Sharona: I just want David to talk to me. Just shmooze, you know?
Share his life. 

Therapist: Observing David in his natural environment gives insight to the dynamics at play here. 

David:  I might be quiet, but I’m not dumb. I know why she sent me back into the store!


I’m in the SuperStop parking lot when I hear my name. I haven’t seen Sharona in years, but there she is, several kids beside her, loading groceries into her van. “Wow! How are you?” I ask.

Sharona laughs and makes introductions. “This is Zacky, David, Sarah, Naomi. Kids, Devorah and I were in school together. Zacky, stop climbing on the cart. Girls, stop fighting. Oh, one sec, my husband’s calling. Hello?”

“Hi, kids.” I smile. The girls climb onto the van’s hood. Zacky turns to me. “Wanna see a magic trick?” He pulls a coin out of David’s ear.

“Cool!” I look at David. “Any more coins behind that ear?”

David smiles shyly but doesn’t reply.

Sharona hangs up. I nod toward David. “Is this that little blond baby who was crawling around at the reunion, um, ten years ago?”

Sharona laughs. “This is him!”

I turn to David. “Nice to meet you. You look like your mother!”

David shrugs.

“Different personality, though. David loves science and biology, I don’t even know where my brain is,” Sharona says, tapping furiously on her phone. “Give me a sec, I’m just texting the doctor.”

I turn to David. “You probably enjoy reading, no?”

David grunts.

Sarah and Naomi jump, landing nearby. “Maaaa! We wanna leave!”

 “Say hello to Mommy’s friend, girls.”

“Hi. Where did you get those funny shoes?”

“Sarah!”

“Sorry.” The girls scamper away.

“Adorable,” I say.

“David,” Sharona suddenly says, “we didn’t buy milk. Please take my card back into the store, get three skim milks and… and… coffee yogurts.” When he’s gone she turns to me. “You know the type, smart and silent?”

I aim for a noncommittal hmm.

“I love going to PTA and hearing how my kid is a teacher’s dream and he’s going to cure cancer when he grows up, but sometimes I worry about his…”

“Friends?”

She chuckles, embarrassed. “I was going to say ‘marriage.’ But yeah, the whole social piece. He’s really quiet. I hardly know him. My other kids, I can predict what they’re going to say, but David never shares what he’s thinking or what’s happening in his life.”

“Does he have friends?”

“Oh, sure.”

“Science geeks?”

“Every one of ‘em.”

“Have you ever watched them interact?”

“Yeah, they put on huge protective goggles and rubber gloves and mix all kinds of dangerous chemicals together and I just pray they don’t blow my house up. But they sound like regular kids; they can work together and look out for each other.”

“What is he like with his siblings?”

Sharona tilts her head. “Zacky and the girls talk all day, but I never hear David’s opinion.” She hesitates. “It makes people around him uncomfortable. You ask a question, you get a one-word answer. It’s awkward.”

“He doesn’t play the big-brother role?”

“He plays the caring big brother, but not the schmoozy big brother. He doesn’t engage in conversation. He’s just not communicative.” David is coming our way now. Sharona takes out her phone. “Listen, can I call you? What’s your number at the office?”

 

-David doesn’t make small talk. 


-David has friends who are similar to him: They operate at a slower pace and share his interests. He lacks the broad range of varied relationships that most people enjoy.

 

-David is overshadowed at home. He’s overwhelmed and shuts down.

Originally featured in Family First, Issue 593. D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist in private practice for over 15 years. She is the creator of the Link-It reading comprehension and writing curriculum for elementary school students and directs continuing education programs for speech-language pathologists and educators.