Monday, October 20, 2008


I’ve written here before about fun echoics T has said, such as:

Therapist: “You eat with a…”
T: “Shovel”
…and I do have to report a new one from last week:
Radio: “This is NPR news…”
T: “ Washington.”

Great fun, and a super party trick. However, a new echoic showed up last night, and I’m having a very different reaction to it. He’s heard people call me by name all his life, and yesterday, T started echoing “Suzanne.” I’ll admit it was funny at first, hearing my son say my given name. But this morning, as he was sitting at the table eating breakfast, he said “Suzanne. Suzanne. Suzanne,” over and over, doing his little finger flap thing. I know it was just a stim. But it really got to me. It broke my heart. This is the one child in the world that may ever call me “Mama” - and he only says it when prompted - but there he was, saying my given name over and over and over again and it meant nothing. AND I couldn’t respond. I ignored it – I had to – because I certainly do not want him to start calling me by name, which very well might happen if I give him a big reaction.

I got really angry, too. Every repetition of my name made the anger rise higher. Stop saying my name. I’m your mother. I am not Suzanne to you. I am your Mama. I have put so much time and energy and life blood into you, and I’m standing here ignoring you because you are saying my given name, because if I react, you will continue to do this. And the hell of it is, you don’t even realize what you are doing. It’s a meaningless stim. But it’s killing me. Do you know how much I ache for you to say “Mama” when you want me? How much I want you to cry out for me in the night when you are sick or scared? How on the few nights when you are able to say “Night night, Mama” unprompted (even though it is within the context of a very routine event every night), my heart leaps with joy? Every “Suzanne” was like a knife in my heart.

He never saw a bit of my heartache & anger. Had to swallow it and go on. I just had to outwardly let it go and go about my morning routine.


Rob said...

I still feel pretty horrible since I consider myself to be the one who taught him this word, by accident. Hopefully ignoring it will not give him much feedback and he'll stop. I wonder if the school can help us with getting rid of this little bit of vocabulary?

Love, Me

tommysmommy said...

Oh my love, you are not the only person who calls me Suzanne. Don't blame yourself. It's fading already, and this will pass. And he's also wandered around the house saying "Hey Rob" (which I would have inadvertantly taught him) and "Hey Bob" (which my mom would have inavdertantly taught him). I'm sure there are uneasy feelings on your part & Dad's too. Blame the echolalia. Or perhaps the amount of TV he watches. Or the phase of the moon. Or the price of tea in China.

Joanne said...

My son doesn't do this yet but he does not say Mama, either. He also doesn't say ... well, much, but especially hi, bye, good night, I love you, etc. It is heartbreaking. I can only hope that he is *thinking* it, somewhere, down deep. I hope your son is thinking Mama somewhere too.

lemming said...


Just a query - what if you call Rob "Daddy" and vice versa, do you think that would help?

LOVE it that Moose knows NPR.

tommysmommy said...

Lemming, very good idea. We have started doing this even more at home now. We had been calling each other mommy & daddy, but not 100% of the time! Now we are. :) Hugs to you as well.

Anonymous said...

Should have phrased that better - if you did "vice versa" that would mean that Rob would call you Daddy, and that could end up being VERY confusing. :-)


Anonymous said...

I am sorry and feel your pain. The idea of parents calling each other mommy and daddy when with T, makes a lot of sense. Your lovely boy is growing and learning so much... maybe this is just one interim step to connecting Mommy to Suzanne and Daddy to Rob? Perhaps the school specialist could give suggestions...go with your gut and know that we parents will continue to have angry, upsetting moments...blame is not an option. Love yourself.
xo nonie

Farah said...

We just want you two to know how much we love you and your precious son. P.S. We also think you've got GREAT taste in boys names! (: