Our daughter Macayla, who is now 20 years old, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 18 months. She was a happy baby, but we knew something wasn’t right when she missed the normal speech milestones, humming and babbling instead of beginning to learn words.
Though she is nonverbal, she understands what we say. We can ask her to do something and she’ll do it — she’s just unable to respond with language. We have come to learn that sometimes spoken words can be overrated. Macayla’s actions speak loudly — giggles when she finds something amusing on the computer, playing with her Squeakums doll, humming to her favorite song on YouTube, smiling when we ask who our pretty girl is, and sitting on our lap (yes at 20 years old, she still does — and we love it!) It’s simple things like this mean so much more than a single spoken word!
Our son, who is 19 and away at college, did something very special for his sister. He got a tattoo with Macayla’s name and three elephants across his back. He said he wanted to have his big sister with him wherever his future takes him. He knows how she loves elephants, and he says that like Macayla, elephants show true strength despite their gentle, quiet nature.
Rick and Michele Skoog