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Most people assume that my son Connor has been non-verbal his whole life–that he’s never spoken. However, early on, he was able to speak a little. Part of the tragedy of autism is what it steals from you.

So, to help others understand what we’ve gone through over the years, I want to share with you a few of the words that Connor has said.

Shortly after we began therapy with Connor, shortly after he had lost his speech and retreated into his own little world, I got an actual word out of him.


In speech therapy, the goal isn’t just communication but useful communication. The goal is to give children words that will enable them to express their wants. One keyword a child needs is “more.” It’s useful for “more food,” “more drink,” “more tickles,” and “more time on the swings.” So “more” was taught repeatedly, pronounced precisely so Connor would know how to use it.

It was early morning—a Saturday morning, in fact. Back then, with young kids, Saturday morning meant getting up, turning on the TV, and laying out some cereal and a drink. It worked for me growing up; why wouldn’t it work for my kids?

Apple juice was the drink of choice back in those days. We always had a jug in the fridge, and I had already poured a glass out for him. I had taken my place back on the couch and fallen asleep like any good, attentive father.


I heard, half asleep. I opened my eyes and there stood my son, holding the jug of apple juice close to his body. His little hands supported the jug, but he could not take the cap off. I watched his lips, tight together, pushing the word out. “M-m-mmore,” he said.

“More?” I asked him. “You want more?” I knew he wanted more. What I wanted was more communication. I wanted to hear more words. I wanted more. . of him . . . in my world.

I didn’t get more. It was like it took every ounce of strength he had to get that one word out. He struggled to speak it, fighting his nature to make his need known to me. I got up, poured another glass and he drank in his silence.

More Than Enough

Today, I hold him down on his bed and tickle his toes. I grab his belly and listen to him squeal. Then I watch him quickly and easily bump his hands together, saying “more” in sign language. It’s his language, natural for him, and most importantly, I understand it. I oblige and tickle some more.

My Son, Connor


  • Melanie Honnold Zimmer says:

    This is interesting Brett! I cannot even begin to imagine the frustration! My 8 year old grandson was recently diagnosed as having autism. He’s pretty verbal…but has some strange tics. I didn’t realize they could gradually lose speech. I don’t think that happens with all…but Ethan will have to go through some more testing and analysis before we have any idea what path we will be going down! Thankfully the Lord knows and cares for each of our little ones and not-so-little ones. I have a piano student who has a twin sister who is very non-verbal and is pretty out of control at times. I pray for her momma and so glad she has found someone to come and relieve her from time to time!

    Praying for our boys and my friend’s girl!

  • Claire says:

    More love. 🙂