Can anyone guess what this post will be about? I’ll make it easy and tell you right away – it’s about development charts. I don’t know what possessed me, oh so many months ago, but I went ahead and signed up for those stupid email things. My main intention was for the coupons. Now, months later, I still get these email notices every month telling me about all the wonderful things Bennett is (or should be) doing. Why do these things drive me crazy? Well, let me tell you.
I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself, however, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that as a mom of a child with special needs, I have a strong dislike of those development charts. From my point of view I see little to like about them. Why do I want to read about all the things Bennett should be doing when he’s not doing so many of them? I’m not in denial – I know he’s delayed. I know he may never do some things or when he does, he may do them differently. I see no reason to remind myself of this every month. As I’ve said in a previous post, I want to get to the point where I enjoy Bennett more than I worry about him. I want to enjoy and celebrate his every accomplishment without the reminder that it is something he should have done months ago.
Although I dislike these charts, I do recognize that they are a tool used to determine child development and provide us with targets to work towards. Having said this however, I think it is also important to not get too caught up in the specifics of these things either. This is the conversation I tried to have with our Occupational Therapist back in June. I don’t think it went well and I don’t think she understood my point. I’m willing to take full responsibility for this as perhaps I didn’t explain myself clearly enough. So, I’m going to try again here.
My point was that I didn’t think it was fair or totally accurate to always rely on these charts to determine how Bennett is doing. Unfortunately our kids are in a position where they are ALWAYS being assessed, measured, and evaluated against their peers. Typical kids aren’t. For example, our OT has been very focused on shape sorters and having Bennett scribble since he was about 15 months. Apparently, children at this age should be able to and like to scribble and complete those shape sorter activities. Well, Bennett gets bored quickly with the shape sorters – he’ll put the shape in but will often not take the time or make the effort to search out the proper opening. If you give him crayons, he likes to put them in his mouth first and then move on to something else. He’s just not that interested in either right now. Does this freak me out? No, it doesn’t because at this point I believe that there are other kids out there who just aren’t interested either. I also believe that there are “typical” adults who didn’t care for these activities and turned out alright. I also think that there are many ways to develop a skill.
Our occupational therapist is a wonderful, kind, young woman who has been helpful. We haven’t had any therapy sessions since last June and we will be starting again tomorrow. And I’m dreading it. I don’t want to see the shape sorter or crayons or markers. I don’t want her to ask me what my “goals” are for Bennett. I know she wants me to answer in accordance with the “charts”. But I don’t want to look at the charts – I want her to set the goals – unless there is something specific I want to do. And I think I’ll tell her this – whether she’ll understand or not, I don’t know.
So, do you understand what I’m trying to say? Am I alone in this love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with the development charts?
And why don’t I simply unsubscribe to those annoying emails? Well, because, every once in a while – when I’m brave enough and strong enough, I check them out. And sometimes, I’m pleasantly surprised because Bennett is not behind in every area – in some, he’s right where he should be.
And finally, this is the last question – I promise. Why are kids expected to scribble and colour when it says quite clearly on the box, that crayons are for kids 18 months and over? :)