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Understanding developmental milestones with SEND children

Understanding developmental milestones with SEND children

When you enter the world of parenting you quickly find yourself in a world full of developmental milestones. Our children are measured constantly by health professionals, friends and family to see if they are developing as expected. For those of us with SEND children those milestones can become very painful. It is a constant reminder that your child is different. 

You are continually asked questions you can’t answer by well-meaning friends and family like ‘When will they speak?’ or ‘Why can’t they jump?’. As a parent you are fully aware when your child is struggling with something. The constant reminders can become overwhelming. Children who do not fit in nicely to the standard milestone journey are faced with a system that will always measure them against a criteria that isn’t right for them.

School reports make dismal reading

Our kids are measured against a standard criteria that just doesn’t work for children who are different. Reports and assessments of our children’s medical and educational development are filled with all the things they are expected to be doing because of the set milestones. They have very little mention of other things they may be excelling in. Martha from Martha Smith Parent Advocate has a great post looking at why school reports can be such a ‘hefty punch in the guts for us parents’ – Ally.

Many of our children follow a very different timeline. They develop at a different pace and often in a different order than is typically expected. They don’t fit neatly into the milestone criteria. In addition to these milestones we face very little support from a system that often fails to understand our children’s differences.  Lizzie over at A Curious Journey shows us a little of the struggle to access help in her post – Is Global Development Delay Progress Holding Us Back. I can certainly relate to visiting professionals after a long wait only to be advised to do things we have spent years doing already.

The importance of patience with SEND developmental milestones

The one thing both my children have taught me is patience, it certainly doesn’t come naturally to me.  Alex over at The Long Chain explains it well in the post – The Slow Smile. The joy when you wait for something is fantastic. The saying ‘worth the wait’ certainly means more to me now than it ever did.

I have two boys who are autistic and one thing they both need is processing time.  It has taken me a while to adjust to this. But I have found so much benefit in being more patient with everyone around me not just my kids.  Some people just need a bit more time and it is one of the most valuable things we can give to others so why don’t we do it more often. Milestones are worth celebrating whatever age they happen and we are often very guilty of underestimating those who are different.  Miriam from Faith Mummy has a lovely story about her family in the post – Never Underestimate Anyone, However Much They Struggle.

Language matters when discussing these milestones

If we want to support our children better then the language used around them needs to change.  Alison over at Downright Joy explores the pain when good people make mistakes as the language used does damage in her post – Listening to You.

Language can be very complex and often people have different opinions on how it should be used.  Malin from Sensational Learning with Penguin explores the differences between – Disabled and Differently Abled.

Whilst some terms will be down to preference there are still too many negative and harmful phrases used. We are all guilty of making the wrong choices when it comes to language. However it is very important that we make a conscious effort to change our language when it’s harmful. Mark from the Additional Needs Blogfather has some helpful alternatives to reduce our use of negative disability metaphors in his post – Make The Right Choice.

The key thing to remember about children who are different is that there is nothing wrong with being different, including SEND developmental milestones. It is simply different not less.

You might also like:

SEND: How to cope with the stress and anxiety of change

10 real stories: SEND during lockdown

The highs of being a SEND parent

SEND: What’s different about our summer?

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About Jade Page

Jade is a mum to her two boys aged 7 & 5. Jade began blogging at the Autism Page after her eldest was diagnosed as autistic. She now works in parent support and delivers training about autism. Jade lives with her husband and boys in the West Country, between Bristol and Bath. Follow her on Twitter at @TheAutismPage.