Are my kids normal?

by beagooddad on December 7, 2006

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Geetle got her first preschool report card the other day. It looks like she actually stays at school after we drop her off instead of sneaking away to the mall with her friends.

As I was reading it, I had the brief flash of I wonder what the other report cards look like. We have two very different twins in our house who are both at very different developmental levels and I do not get to see the kids on their play dates very often. I do not really know what a nearly 4 year old “should” be doing since both of mine are so different.

And, I really do not worry about it that much. The kids both have fun at school. They are both clearly learning a lot. The both have fun when they play around the house. We are not much of a piano class in the morning and ballet or chess class in the afternoon.

Pookie is very different than all the other kids his age we have met. He has autism and echolalia. He plays with toys differently. He talks to people differently. He gets happy and upset differently.

Sometimes it is better than other kids and sometimes worse.

Last night he counted to 100 while going to the bathroom…by himself. He wanted me to say the “ones” (21, 31, 41, etc.) and when I tried to ignore him, he turned my head force eye contact and repeated the 20, 30, 40, etc. until I did my part. That is very cool.

But, he still isn’t potty trained, he still has trouble communicating beyond his basic wants/needs, and he is going through a little bit of the terrible twos just before his fourth birthday.

None of this overly concerns us these days. We understand that we are going to have to work a little harder with him on some things and less on others and over the last couple months we are amazed at how much he has developed.

What we do not know is whether he is normal for an autistic nearly 4 year old boy. You just do not see many of them.

But, if you look, you can very personal accounts on blogs.

One of my favorite things I’ve ever found on the internet is this post on MOM – Not Otherwise Specified on her son’s echolalia. I read it early this summer when I was having trouble dealing with Pookie’s echolalia and figuring out what we need to do about it.

I subscribed to her blog immediately and enjoy watching the things her son does. Her son shares a lot of characteristics with Pookie but they also both have a lot that are unique traits.

Autism is often called a spectrum disease/condition/whatever word you are comfortable with here. There is such a wide range of symptoms and everybody seems to have their own unique combination of symptoms.

It would appear that each autistic kid is different from all of their peers which can be worrisome to parents trying to look for those similarities and emerging skills.

Who knows when Pookie will potty train? Who knows when he will learn division? Who knows when he will switch from yelling to pouting when we won’t give him a treat (Geetle is heavily into the pouting phase)? There is nobody to compare him against.

But, then again, who knew when Geetle would potty train or start pouting? Who knows when she will learn division or, for that matter, how to count to 100?

The only time I have ever really gotten mad at Pookie was when I tried to force him to potty train this summer and it just did not take. Eventually I realized that I was really mad at myself for not being able to make that connection for him and that my frustration was actually hindering his desire to even try. I work very hard now to stay patient and keep finding new fun ways to expose him to skills, and enjoy when I see him trying to use those skills.

All kids, whether typically developing or not, learn at their own rate and in their own time. Us parents need to remember to constantly find new ways to expose them to the world and find new ways to establish connections, but try not to worry when they do not happen when we think they should.

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