Ryan first shared his hidden "greatness", when he read aloud the sign at Bruster's Ice Cream. My sweet boy had vanilla ice cream (and only vanilla...never, ever, any other flavor) dripping down his still chubby, baby cheeks, with rainbow colored sprinkles (never, ever chocolate, only rainbow) stuck to the end of his nose. He was just two months shy of his 4th birthday. Ryan looked at the sign and read, "ice cream, cakes and more". Holy crap, he just read that sign!! At first I blamed Kyle, "Did you tell him what that sign said?", in an extremely excited, yet somewhat agitated voice, as my eyes glazed with slight hysteria. After Kyle assured me he did not tell Ryan what the sign said (and quickly backed a few steps away from me), I asked Ryan to read other words. I pointed to sign after sign after sign, and sure enough, my budding genius read them all.
As I stood there, completely lost in my astonishment, ice cream melting all over my shoes, I whispered loud enough for the family sitting next to us with their meager, average child to hear, "My budding genius will be famous one day." Denial, who happened to be sitting right next to me, greedily eating her chocolate ice cream cone, just snickered at me with a "yeah right" look on her face and said, loud enough for the average child family parked on the grass next to us to hear, "Well, if he's the next Einstein, why didn't he use all those words he knows to TELL you he could read?". Hearing Denial's words, I blushed at my possible premature outburst of my certain to be famous son, then quickly recovered by shoving Denial's ice cream cone in her face and continued bragging in my loud whisper voice of my child's new found Einstein like ability.
Over the past 5 years, Mrs. P has helped Ryan find HIS voice by teaching him, guiding him and most importantly, by having faith in him. Ryan looks up to Mrs. P because she "gets him", some days even more so than his own mother. Mrs. P knows how Ryan thinks and is often able to get him to "spit it out". Ryan still struggles somewhat with expressive language and his "social speech", and even though Mrs. P will continue to develop strategies to help Ryan figure out just what to say when, chances are conversation will never come naturally to him. Even with the people Ryan trusts most, small talk and chit chat will always be down right uncomfortable for him and all the things he doesn't say, can't say, or won't say, will always be a little painful for me.
Chances are Ryan will never be a famous orator, he most likely will not give eloquent speeches like the President (He would be a fabulous president though since he follows all the rules, doesn't cheat, and doesn't lie...perhaps a write in candidate for the year 2052?), and I promise you, Ryan will never be a fan of "small talk" since he has informed me before, "there is no point in it". However, 5 years since we first heard the words "autism", "hyperlexia" and "expressive language delay" regarding our beautiful, perfect son, Ryan has been able to amass all the letters and all the words that began forming in his brain at such a young age and create his own language and he is now able to come up with his own responses to all my annoying, nagging questions....most of the time. We still occasionally hear Jim Carrey as The Grinch, SpongeBob, Clark Griswold, and Austin Powers (Fine, I get it, I will NEVER be Mother of the Year...whatever!), but most of the time, the words that I hear today, come from the big brain and big heart of a very special boy who has worked so hard to make words leap from his brain out of his mouth. This boy may never be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, sit next to Yo Yo Ma or win Gold at The Olympics, but none of that matters, because I now know my boy is not destined for greatness....he has already achieved it.