As the mother of a child with delay in communication and, thus, socialization, I tend to try and avoid the other children my son’s age.  This is pretty easy since he’s my only child.  I only drop off and pick him up at school so I don’t see much there.  I’m an only child so there are no nieces and nephews. My husband’s siblings (3 of them) have no children.  So, we’re pretty isolated, except for those social meetings like birthday parties.

That being said, those social events do stir up the sediment of my brain and force me to wonder, where are all the other kids he sees every day developmentally?  How far behind is he?  Does it matter?  And if it does matter, why?

I think I need to look at the last two questions first.  Does it matter where he is in comparison to “other children” his age?  It won’t change anything.  He’s getting all the medically viable treatment he can get until his testing is completed.  It won’t “narrow the gap”, so to speak, if I know.

On the other hand, if I do know what the expectations are for the NT (neurotypical or “normal”) children my son’s age, it may give me an idea what my son has to try to understand in his day to day life. Maybe I can help him respond.  Knowing that information may help me understand how best to approach homework.

What a strange thing to do...

Knowing will also help me face reality, instead of burying my head in the sand.  Coming to accept the reality might prevent me from feeling so crushed the next time I see him in a social setting of any kind.  So, it matters in a positive way.

Where to look for those milestones?  I went here, mainly because I found it less offensive than other websites of similar ilk.  The thing I liked about this site was their acknowledgment that all 5 year olds are different, just like any person is different than someone of the same age.  Let’s see what they say:

“Starting school. Adjusting to kindergarten and all that goes along with school is perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments of most 5-year-olds.”

Okay.  Right along with the NTs, my son is adjusting to kindergarten.  Apparently, some people don’t like how he’s adjusting or think it is enough to keep him engaged.  I’m not so sure.  And, he loves kindergarten.

“Increased poise, coordination, and stamina. While only a few are truly skilled at shooting baskets or scoring soccer goals, just about all 5-year-olds are able to hop, skip and jump, throw (and sometimes catch) a ball, and climb the stairs without effort.”

Here, he’s growing and developing.  He can throw and catch a baseball, shoot hoops on a Little Tikes Grow Basketball Hoop.  He can hop and he can jump.  Skipping- that’s a no.

“Losing the first tooth. Children commonly begin to lose baby teeth somewhere between 5 and 6 years of age, soon to be replaced by their permanent, or “secondary” teeth.

Did not want to hold still for this - self conscious already!

My little guy is ahead of the pack on this one.  He lost his first tooth at four.  And yesterday?  Lost the second of his two front teeth!  Now, how long does it take for the permanents to come in?  I guess we’ll be literally singing for those two front teeth for Christmas, although I’m pretty sure he can use his language skills to convey another idea or two to me.

Understanding harder concepts and increasing their vocabulary. Five-year-olds typically can understand and apply concepts such as “under,” “over,” “because,” “why,” “before,” and “after.” They often have vocabularies of more than 2,000 words.

Whoa.  Ok.  He understands “under”.  He does not clearly understand “why”, “before” or “after.”  I have no idea how many words are in his vocabulary.  I’m not counting, but my guess is less than 2000.

Literally, reading a map, age 3...

Developing reading skills. In general, 5-year-olds can not only write the letters of the alphabet, but also identify the sounds that correspond with many of them. Reading is a skill that a handful of children excel in, sometimes starting as early as 3 or 4 years of age. However, the vast majority of children learn to read in kindergarten.

Yay!  Our point of excellence.  My son has been able to read and spell since age 2.  He started spelling colors then.  He can read signs, messages, simple books and enough to navigate to websites on the computer.

Tying shoes and buttoning buttons. Whether or not 5-year-olds have mastered this skill obviously depends on how often they have actually been exposed to shoelaces, since Velcro seems to be the hottest thing since sliced bread these days when it comes to children’s footwear. But for the most part, children are usually capable of both tying their own shoes and buttoning their own buttons before the age of 6.

Nope.  Not even close on this one.

Telling right from wrong. Children at this age begin to not only tell right from wrong, but also start to care more about doing the “right” thing. That said, they still tend to be prone to telling tales and doing things they’re not supposed to do.

This one had me laughing.  My son does know that yelling will get him in trouble (lose privilege).  He knows that sassing will get him in trouble (time out).  And yes, he still does do it.  So, I guess he meets expectations here.  As far as telling tales?  Not so much as incorrectly answer questions like whether he has a pet rabbit.  He likes to answer “yes.”

Looking at just these limited areas, he is not too different from his peers.  The part I left out?  How most 5 year olds talk nonstop during dinner, dragging it out.  Apparently, you can’t get them to stop talking.  The only words I hear are “more”  “all done” or “Do you want your water?” if he’s feeling wordy, and “thirsty” if he’s not.  To me, that’s some good progress because now he understands “thirsty” and “hungry”, six months ago, he did not.

My real expectation?  Just to enjoy his growth as it happens.  Love him and cheer him on.  Every little step is a huge conquest to me.

Don’t show off every day or you’ll stop surprising people.  There must always be some novelty left over.  The person who displays a little more of it each day keeps up expectations and no one ever discovers the limit of his talent.  

Baltasar Gracian


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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11 Responses to Expectations.

  1. It’s funny to see this post from you — I was just thinking some of the same things about Little Miss. What *would* I see if Little Miss was developing typically? What are our next goals to work toward?

    And like you and T, we will get to our goals at our own pace… those three-year-old mastery items? (yeah, I looked at the web site — definitely bookmarking that one!) We may not hit them for several years… but it’s nice to know what’s on deck 😉

  2. All in good time. I’m seeing Cubby do things with ease that Pudding won’t even try. Yet. I’m cheering your little man too! 🙂

  3. danidawn says:

    I have a hard time looking at other kids PA’s age. We recently had her re evaluated & were told she was in many areas right at 2 1/2 years old & a few she was 3-4 years. I was a little taken back because I was sure she was further ahead. I was kind of dissapointed to say the least. So I started looking at other kids her age & realised why I didn’t in the first place.

    They all will develop at their own rate so I am not really worried, We just get to enjoy the process a little longer 🙂

    Loved the post today….

  4. Teresa says:

    Those expectations are generalizations. Real people don’t fit into boxes. My son didn’t. No one fits in all of the boxes and they don’t have the boxes that he DID fit in.
    He was a wonderful, creative little boy and most of the time no one noticed but me. I cried, I got angry, I felt guilty and too irritated at my precious son, who I adored every time there was an evaluation or someone would tell me how perfect their child was or even when I just wanted him to get something out of his room and he couldn’t track more than three instructions. I am not proud of that.
    Finally, he was 9ish I saw a photo of him I noticed that my sweet son so incredibly stressed. I knew that I had to change my mind to change his situation.
    I just wanted him to be normal damn it! But our normal wasn’t going to look like everyone else’s.
    That is when we started behaving like thoroughbreds. We just put on our blinders and kept moving forward. It was never easy but their race was not ours.
    Hang in there sweetie, you are not alone.

  5. ElizOF says:

    He is clearly a very samrt kid and I suspect the hurdles will be crossed in his time not our expected time. You are doing the best you can and using all the resources you can find, so a lot of ground is being covered… It will continue to come together for him, Karen… have courage.
    Whatever happened with the K school situation? Please update us when you can. 🙂
    I love that Baltasar quote… 😉

  6. ElizOF says:

    See, I can barely spell smart… Oy vey! 😆

  7. Kara says:

    You are so right. Every little conquest is huge. On days when I see conquests I have an easier time being around the NT kids. When the challenges are greater, I choose the head in the sand approach. I find this mental game I play only with myself rather comforting.

    Also, thanks for helping me out of Bangladesh.

  8. Kelly Hafer says:

    It’s so hard, isn’t it: do we want to know where our kiddos measure up or not? Should we care? I don’t know for others, but this is very difficult for me. We have a NT very gifted 15 year old (actually after our experiences with T and AJ, I think she has Asperger’s, but we are not going to get her diagnosed). She read at age 2-1/2, in fact, by kindergarten, she was helping my study my college Anatomy and Physiology homework – and reading words like “glomerulus” with correct pronunciation! Now we have T and AJ: I have NO FRIGGIN’ CLUE what “normal” or age appropriate is.

    I just know that I see “nt” kids and notice right away at how quickly their neurons fire and I know in my very heart of hearts that T and AJ will never be like that. Not being pessimistic, just realistic. And it makes me sad. It makes me want to protect them and bubble them so they don’t ever have to face mean kids or feel left behind. But those are my issues – will my boyos even NOTICE that they are different? Jury is still out on that one.

  9. Amanda says:

    For sure the best thing that happened to me was getting stuck in a 2nd grade classroom with my son and a bunch of NT children. The first few weeks were VERY rough. 6 months later I found my self full grasping the following quote:

    “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” – Ecclesiastes 9:11

    Occasionally I will still go gaga over a kid who can use a knife and fork but I no longer consider it essential to happiness. 🙂

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