Friday, 5 September 2014

Little things

"Little things mean a lot"

I couldn't put it better if I tried.

My child development work focuses on seeing children who are experiencing difficulties in one or more areas of their development. The more I learn about "normal" development, the more amazing it is that things go right most of the time. The brain is such a poorly understood organ, difficult to really get a handle on, perhaps we need to look outside the box and ask how come everything has gone right rather than trying to focus on what has gone wrong! So much of what young children learn is done instinctively - we don't teach our neurotypical children to use gestures and point, they pick it up almost by osmosis. The same goes for language - we don't actually coach and "teach" conversation, it's learnt through observation, modelling and trial and error. For James, all of these early foundation steps are missing and I look at his development through very different eyes. Each step in a task needs to be broken down and taught individually - I am an expert in backward chaining now (an approach where you teach the final step first and then once that is mastered, the penultimate step). It's a very drawn out approach but when a skill is finally mastered it's cause for celebrating. If you've had to teach your child to out on their socks over the course of four years you're going to be ready for a party when they've finally "got it"!  It also means I'm bowled over by my girls' achievements in a way that other parents don't experience for their neurotypical children. I am stunned that my three year old can write the first letter of her name and that my 8 year kid can make a full packed lunch. Sometimes I fear I have lowered my expectations for my subsequent children as a result of a James' challenges and sometimes I'm guilty of having expectations that are too high. Getting the balance right is tricky but I celebrate all the small steps that each of them takes in ways that I would not otherwise have done.

Little things mean a lot.


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