The two-year anniversary of this blog was about a month ago, and it passed me by entirely. But I found myself thinking about it this morning as I watched Isaac play happily with Mario Kart on the Wii. We've come a long way. A few mile markers:
"One of my professional responsibilities has been to help parents sort out which of their child’s behaviors are 'typical,' i.e., often occurring in the development of neurotypical kids, and which are more atypical. To be honest, this isn’t a conversation I ever seek out, but it does come up fairly often when parents attribute very typical things as 'disordered' or 'autistic' and then I step in with some developmental information that generally provides a sense of relief to worried parents."
She had a question about one of her sons, and a friend pointed her to a couple of books entitled, Your-Eight-Year-Old-Outgoing and Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful by Louse Bates Ames, Ph.D. of the Gesell Institute of Human Development.
Despite the age of the books (they were originally written in the 70s), Jordan found the eight-year-old version useful. Now let me just say right now that since Isaac's diagnosis (when it became clear that we were going to need another map entirely) I have fled from any book that purports to explain typical child development.
But I trust Jordan and it had been a long time, so I thought I'd check out the five-year-old version. The title? Your Five-Year-Old: Sunny and Serene.
Uh, not so much.
Here's an excerpt:
"In his determination to do everything just right, he may ask permission for even the simplest thing and will then beam with pleasure as his mother smiles and says, 'Yes, you may have an apple, dear.'"
Wrong and wrong. But I kept reading until I got to the section on age five-and-a-half to six (Isaac is 5 1/2) and nearly choked on this bit:
"Not yet a full-fledged Six, nevertheless the child of five-and -a-half shows an all-too-great readiness to disobey, to go against what is asked or expected of him. And he doesn't always do this gently. "Brash" and "combative" are the adjectives that mothers use in describing this child, and all with good reason."
"Five-and-a-half is characteristially hesitant, dawdlng, indecisive--or at the opposite extreme, overdemanding and explosive."
Well hellllloooo, gorgeous.
Any of you with spectrum kids will know this--aloofness, rage, anxiety, clinginess--all these things can look downright pathological when you have a child with a diagnosed difference. It's tempting to put any extreme behavior into that bucket. But typical kids? They do weird stuff too. They dawdle, they demand, they retreat, they explode.
Back before we were sure of a diagnosis, we used to wish we had a "control child" that we could compare against: is this normal? Or is it spectrum? But now we know: we'll never really know. It's all woven together into a rich tapestry of Isaac-ness that is perfect in its own way, and impossible--and futile--to untangle.