M: I want say you are please I really really really have about to breathe
S: explain more about you have to breathe.
M: I have breathe my lungs look not the way they should.
S: how should your lungs look?
M: I thought they should be clear
S: have you been sneezing?
S: have you been coughing?
S: is your throat sore?
S: do you feel sick?
S: so do you just have trouble breathing?
S: you just have a cough?
S: are you upset about having a cough?
We continued with the rest of the session, but we didn’t talk any more about Michael’s “breathing.” Admittedly, sometimes it feels to me as though I’m playing 20 questions with Michael. I know now that the worst thing is to get caught up in a string of yes and no questions. They often don’t reveal much. I’m still learning how to make statements that require Michael to answer at least with a word or two.
When I returned for our next session four days later, Michael’s mom greeted me at the door and told me that Michael had a sinus infection. Grandma decided that she thought Michael was trying to tell us something during our last session, so she took him to the doctor. Mom was relieved to be able to help Michael because she never would have known about the infection if he hadn’t been able to tell us.
So after 20 years of silence, Michael now has the ability to tell us when he’s not feeling well. He doesn’t have to suffer with an illness alone.