Thursday, September 4, 2008

Your Baby is 20 Months Old!

Yeah, Yeah I know.

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? :)


North Dakota Ward's said...

I a hundred percent hear where you are coming from. With my first daughter, I had the What to Expect the First Year book. I read every chapter, and she did everything right on time or even before. Then I had my second, a sweet, content, fat baby. She didn't do anything until the very end of normal. I remember one time telling my grandma "Elizabeth doesn't do this or that, Lillian did it at X months." My grandma said "Elizabeth is not Lillian." Four simple words but it changed my parenting forever. I got rid of all of my books, all of my "charts".....and I didn't worry about any of it any more. Anna never rolled over, Joseph and Anna didn't walk until 17 months(which of course is GREAT but most babies walk at 12 months). If anyone asked me if they were walking, I just said NO. I no longer cared what others thought, they were my babies, and I thought they were perfect. NOW, that I actually have a developmentally delayed child, you would think that I would keep that same carefree attitude, but I didn't. I worry about him, I compare him. I don't want to do this, but it is so hard. Most of the time I am pretty good but sometimes just like you I have to look.

I don't know about the toys, because like you said some kids aren't interested in those "educational" type toys. Don't worry about it. Please update us on how it goes tomorrow.

Kara said...

You know I really hate those things too. I'm "lucky" enough to get them mailed to me from the Health Unit periodically. I used to open the package, read the entire thing and then have a good cry. These days the envelope goes right into the trash unopened.

Kasia will do, what Kasia will do, when Kasia is ready to do it.

Words I try to live by....

Which is not to say that it's not still painful when I'm reminded of how delayed Kasia is and/or it's actually pointed out to me by one of her therapists.

I'm of the opinion that those developmental charts are so overvalued at times. Example: a friend's mother always tells the story of how her son was "not only walking at 9 months, he was running". Good for him. But I'll tell you, today at 36 years old, he's certainly no more co-ordinated than the average person and I'll just bet I could beat him in a foot race!

Anonymous said...

I cannot account for the OT's insistance on scribbling without appearing to be critical of her. I don't see any benefit to that.

I will reassure you that your feelings are common and developmentally appropriate to (all) Moms.

If you can divert the OT towards helping Bennett to learn something that is meaningful to you, there may not be time enough for scribbling. How's this, instead of using crayons, tell her you want some of those lovely child memories - finger paintings by Bennett - you know refrigerator stuff. And you can post them on your blog, and link to the 5Minutesfsn site.

The same kind of 'art' can be expanded to all kinds of hands-in-goo, er, sensory activities.

If you want her to decide on goals and then are not happy with what she chooses and then won't tell her, well, natural consequences, Mom. I bet you can think of a goal that is not in accordance with "the charts".

Dawn said...

I totally understand what you are saying. And yeah, I'm like Suze. Everything was right on with Tommy and then Austin. I also here still today, "Austin is not Tommy" it's good to hear and it's okay with me.

Bennett will Bennett.

Bonnie said...

Yup - very frustrating. The professionals say we should treat people as "individuals" and then begin to categorize immediately. Everyone is unique in all the world - and Bennett will do things in Bennett's time. I chuckled when I read the suggestion to "divert" your OT. Isn't that what we are suppose to do in therapy - divert our clients so we can help them focus?

Oh well - go ahead and be frustrated. There is no problem here. Just love him and enjoy him. What more could/should a mom & dad do? Isn't that the gift of babies? Perhaps one of Bennett's many gifts to us - is reminding us to slow down, take our time, don't compare, love life, make friends with everyone, give wet kisses and let them give you wet kisses too -- and life will evolve as it should.

I'm wrapping you all up in a big hug.

Aunti Bonnie

Mummu and Poppa said...

No matter how many children we have - they are all different in all different areas of life.

Children do carry their parental genes and as they grown older we, the parents of these 'Little Einsteins', often ask ourselves, 'Where do they get those ideas? They didn't get that from us.' Well, gess what???? They will become their own person in their own time. Thank God for that.

Bennett, you just continue doing your 'own thing'.

You are your own person and you are doing just fine.

We remember that Auntie Kerry wanted to 'drop-out' of kindergarden because 'they - the people who set the curriculumen - wanted her to finger paint and it just wasn't her thing. Today, she has two Master Degrees - so remember that all does not come down to what others have decreed Bennett should say and do but rather who Bennett, by marching to the beat of his own drummer, becomes in life. Also, Auntie Kerry did not crawl - and apparently that has some adverse effect on a child. We think not.

Bennett, you are loved by everyone and you give back a hundred fold - now you won't find that on a chart.

Tear up the charts from the 'powers that be' and start enjoying Bennett's 'One Day At A Time'. We know that mommy chose the title for a reason and Bennett, you are the reason.

We look forward to seeing you tonight and we know that even with the rainy weather you had a good weekend at 'The Chutes'.

Love and Prayers
Mummu and Poppa
xxx ooo xxx ooo

Barbara said...

Suze: It really is hard to ignore those charts. Especially when you know everyone who is dealing with your child is looking at them all the time. We went on Friday and sure enough the shape sorter and crayons came out. But I talked to the therapist and even though I still don't think she fully understands, I think it will be better.

Kara: The trash is a good place for the charts. I'm starting to think that's where those "assessments" should go too. By the way, I would put my money on you in a footrace with anyone - I've seen you chase Kasia!

therextras: You have a good idea about trying to divert the therapist. I'm going to suggest finger painting. As I said in my post, I believe there are many ways to develop a skill. I just wish she was a little more creative about getting there.

By the way, thank you for the blog award. I'm not sure about how I "pick it up" though!

Dawn: "Bennett will be Bennett" - I think I'll tattoo those words on my forehead!

Auntie Bonnie: I totally agree with you about slowing down and trying to enjoy stuff more with Bennett. It's tough though when you have therapists giving you "homework" every week and then asking about "progress" the next. Ahh...what will I do when he's in school!

Mummu: You're right. He is his own person - and a wonderful one at that. I do hope, one day we look back after Bennett finishes medical school and shake our heads about how much time we spent worrying about him.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Barbara,
My developmental technical skills are bit delayed (according to the charts), and only just learned how to post an award myself.

If you go to my site and right click over the award and then click "save as". Choose to save it (a jpg file) to your desktop or in a file on your computer. Then upload it to your blog in the same way that you have Bennett's photo. There are no "rules" with the award, so you got off easy with this.

Any woman who licks food off her baby's face in public and writes about it, well, you deserve awards in several categories. You give joy to us all, Barbara.

Kiera Beth said...

I do understand what you are saying about the charts. It is hard to see when Reichen is delayed, but like you, I have not yet unsubscribed from the e-mails? Why? I am not sure. Often I just delete them, sometimes I look at them and it gives me hope for the things he will be doing in the near future.

Our OTs have not been pushing coloring or shape sorting. Reichen and Bennett have a shared love for the taste of crayon, so do not worry too much!

I have also gotten a kick out of the fact that many of the toys we use in therapy say for children 3 and up. Does that mean that he is actually ahead of the curve - LOL?

Anonymous said...

Hi Bennett,
I was going to send a really good comment. However, it seems that everyone said exactly what I was going to say. And they all said it very, very well!!!
Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Grandma & Grandpa