When your child has special needs, there are…lower expectations. M’s therapists, teachers and I have not expected that she would do some things as early as her peers, or that she would do other things at all. I was told by her OT last year that they could not help her any more with her fine motor skills and that she would likely need AT (assistive technology) for writing. That she may even need a full time aide due to her various issues. We haven’t expected her to ride a 2 wheel bike, tie her shoes or completely dress herself (buttons, snaps etc) any time soon if at all. We figured it would be a while yet before she could read, or write anything other than her name (which is difficult to read due to backward & misshapen letters).
We haven’t pushed M the way we do K and A. Maybe pushed isn’t the right word…we just haven’t asked her to work as hard or as advanced, because we know what A and K are capable of (K was reading by the time she turned 3, A is almost there with some sight words at 3 1/2). M would not do well at all with pressure or high expectations due to her already overwhelming anxiety and need for sameness. A and K thrive on new and challenging experiences.
Yet despite everything, the hurdles, the lower expectations and more lax learning schedule at home and at school, M is all of a sudden thriving. It just had to be on HER time, because she was ready to try.
This weekend we introduced the idea of giving M the next size taller bicycle, with no training wheels. Last year M (at 4 1/2, 5 years old) finally was able to pedal a bike. Even with the training wheels she often had a lot of difficulty and became easily frustrated, but when we got the bike out this year she was riding great! Unfortunately she balked at the idea of a different bike and it caused a meltdown. Later at a friend’s house she really wanted to ride and the bike available did not have training wheels. Well, this determined little girl took right off on that 2 wheel bike without hesitation! She still needs practice to ride well/for long on her own 2 wheel bike but she is trying and succeeding for short intervals and it is amazing!
Here is a video of M on her bike (A running along behind).
For the longest time M disliked any books at all and did not like being read to, could not pay attention or recall any information about a story. I think a combination of being in school, her medication and our repeated efforts to find books she likes and to read to her and around her (we are all avid readers) helped finally change that. Since late this fall, early winter she has let me read to her every night, at least. When she was comfortable with reading, and different types of books (she initially could only handle board books) I decided it was time to see if I could teach her to read. This started just a week or so ago, and I used the Biscuit books, teaching her one word at a time, the same way I taught my oldest daughter to read. She caught on to the first word pretty quickly and showed she was ready to learn. The next day I moved to the second word and started to introduce a 3rd word at the end of the story. The third day she took off, reading better than 1/3 of the words herself! The last 2 days I have had her read different Biscuit books, one she had never seen before, and she could still read many of the words. She even sounded some out which I never ever thought I would see her do, since she has had a very hard time with written words and sounds. This is the girl who just 6 months ago literally had a fear of reading & said she never wanted to learn to read!
So lesson learned…children will develop in their own time, when they are ready. No need to rush them, the results will be happier for everyone if they are allowed the space they need (or the challenge & extra push, depending on the child). Also, don’t listen when someone tells you what your child will/will not, can/can not do. Just know your child and give them the kind of support they need and they will surpass your wildest expectations for them! M does not have an aide (there is a para pro for the class but she does not have a 1:1) and she has a vision problem (which I will talk about tomorrow) that is likely causing her writing problems and when corrected she may well not need AT at all. 🙂