Copyright Cesar Robles - Dreamstime Photos
After just finishing up a telephone call with a parent, I am again reminded of how overwhelming things can be for families raising children with challenges. Let's face it...it's challenging whether or not your child has any special needs, but think about how overwhelming it would be if it happens to be your first child.
If you have a good team around you (family, friends, a pediatrician, as examples), someone is going to help you get to the "experts," who will help you navigate this new journey. I quote the word "experts" because many of us have tons of professional knowledge and expertise in specific areas, but you are the child's parent and your voice is equally, if not more important, in many ways. You know your child, know what is important to your family, and know how you hope your child will function in that family dynamic. That is all vital information to the professionals involved.
As professionals, we try to remember that you are likely in uncharted territories of your child's life and try to guide you through those choppy waters. Part of our job is to ask you what you'd like to see your child learn, how you'd like him/her to communicate, behave, etc. We want to know what is important to you as a family and how we can best help, how we can help your child be successful in schools, in social relationships, and in the community. We do sometimes forget, especially when it is your first child, you may not really know what is typical development.
I've included a link to a great outline, offered up by PBS.org, to help you see what typical development looks like in children through age five. Note: this does not cover academics, but social skills, communication, and more. It is a nice resource for parents who aren't sure "what comes next." As professionals, we are seeing where your child's current levels are and start building from there. Even though your child may be age four, s/he may only be demonstrating skills a year or more behind that. We would not skip right to the skills for age four, but would increase our expectations from that starting point (the baseline).
The ABC's of the Whole Child
When in doubt, reach out for help. Talk to your child's pediatrician. Contact a local support agency. Speak to other families. Contact your local school district. We are here to help you!
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Until next time...