Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is going on here? Autism, Uneven Development and Periods of Consolidation

legoby Leah Kelley--Originally posted on Special Education Advisor

Some time ago I was reading a post by a parent who was commenting on her surprise that her child was suddenly gaining a myriad of skills – seemingly out of the blue. This was not just happening in one area, but in multiple areas: her previously non-verbal child was using new words and in the correct social context, and also trying new foods, and open to new sensory experiences.

What I have noticed over the years with H is that his progress is anything but even – especially if we look at it on a small scale. There are days when it has definitely felt like the cliché two steps forward – one step back. (However, I suppose there is often truth or reality at the centre of a cliché – and a noticing of a pattern or a tendency – or it wouldn’t be a cliché in the first place.)

It can be difficult to see those steps backward – but what I have learned is that the way to deal with this is to focus on the big picture with my child’s development. Here is the guiding question I try to ask: When considering the big picture (an image of your child’s development over time) is the trajectory of progress positive? If so… the little day-to-day blips, hills, and valleys are likely not of major consequence in terms of development.

When H was first identified as having autism, it was reinforced for us by some very wise professionals that this was a life-time journey: that parenting a child with autism was a marathon and not a sprint – and we have tried to operate accordingly. In retrospect this has been useful advise and we have held it to some extent as a guiding principle. Our child is developing differently than other children – at a different rate that is not necessarily attached or correlated to the number of wax candles on his birthday cake.

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