Wednesday, January 15, 2014

15 learning milestones that thrill parents of kids with special needs

1. Your child says a new consonant, sound or word. A whole sentence? Alert the Internets!
2. Your child discovers a new way to make his wants and needs known, whether gesturing, shaking his head, using his eyes or tapping on a speech app.
3. Your child finally gets what it means to engage on a playdate.
4. Your child learns to stay away from danger, like a hot stove.
5. Your child learns how to photobomb.
6. Your child asks if he can stay up 5 minutes longer, demonstrating both a grasp of time and the ability to manipulate you. Wheeee!
7. Your child starts saying "Sorry" appropriately.
8. Your child goes to the fridge and chooses what he wants. Asserting independence: an amazing thing.
8. Your child discovers how to shop on
9. Your child becomes aware of where he lives—street address, for starters.
10. Your child pinpoints exactly what annoys his sibling. Pure genius.
11. Your child realizes he has the power to move a finger, an arm, a foot. (May he never master the eye roll.)
12. Your child grasps a tangible concept like front and back.
13. Your child grasps an intangible concept like yesterday, today and tomorrow.
14. Your child figures out how to turn on the TV, DVD or Wii. Too much screen time? Perhaps but whoa, he figured it out.
15. Your child gives you a kiss because he senses you really need one—Emotional I.Q. at its best.


  1. Oh, oh, oh my personal favourite. Back a few years ago, with Ms. 7 (Down syndrome) and Mr. 4 when farts were still hilarious. Ms. 8 tooted and Mr. 5 said, "hey, XXX burped!" and she turned around and said....drum roll... "actually, I farted".

    Let me break this down... "actually" is an ADVERB!! And in this case, used in the context of expressing an opinion not expected by the other person in the conversation (I got that from the dictionary). How complex is that? It seemed like we had been working on 2-word sentences for so long the BAM! Actually! Grammatically correct! And with a side-order of attitude! I was thrilled.

    The other that springs to mind is how happy we were when she first climbed up on the coffee table at age 3. Most parents would be horrified, we were doing a happy dance at the gross motor milestone.

    Wow, I could do this all day....

    1. That is FABULOUS!!!!!!! I remember getting so excited when Max started talking in first-person, instead of saying "Max wants ice-cream" now he says "I want ice-cream."

  2. Can I mention a parental milestone that must thrill kids with special needs? When YOU FINALLY realize your child with many, complex special needs who also just happens to be medically fragile, is "talking" to you and has been for quite some time but you simply weren't learning her language. Then, one day, miraculously, it clicks and you get it and your child smiles at you in encouragement because you are getting there. And it's amazing.

    1. I like to say that I'm developing as a parent, too! Once, I told a story here about how Max kept saying something and I wasn't understanding so he leaned over and said it loudly into my ear. He thought it was ME, not him. I loved that.

  3. I play the flute and rock climb as of now. Not many people would learn how to do these things.

    1. Yes, it is me! I am autistic and not many typical people play flute or rock climb. It shows that I can do things you can; I just need more time and patience.

  4. Hey Ellen, I've got two for you. The first one is when my son (he has autism) said "no" for the first time. I don't remember how old he was - sorry - but he must have been at least four or five. My husband and I just looked at each other - did he just say that? Appropriately?!

    The best for us, under the category of "well, it's good that we taught him that, now how do we get him to stop saying it" is the phrase "I don't want to talk about that". Ok, we're aiming for "I don't want to talk about that right now", but, LOL, it's a work in progress.

    It made so much sense at the time! If he didn't like what we were asking him he'd get frustrated and start making his "frustrated" noises and biting his hand. We figured if he had words to go with his frustrations, maybe the behaviors would decrease. And it worked! Except now, LOL, when we try to talk to him about , oh I don't know, school, practicing his name/address, "what did you do today", etc., we"ll get "I don't want to talk about that"!

    LOL, very age appropriate, but I sometimes think I'm the first parent to teach my teen how to act like a teen!

    Love hearing about your family, and thanks for letting me share - Alyssa

    1. HA!!!! Note to self: Don't teach Max to say "I don't want to talk about that."

  5. Oh Ellen, I LOVE these!! Faith began walking in her walker ALL BY HERSELF just before Christmas, and ever since we have been on an emotional high with milestones like this!!! Oh and YES she has already mastered the eye roll! Eating.....ANYTHING. ..even candy all day! You better believe it!! And my personal fav is when she learned to make jokes in her own way w/o saying more than yes or no! Do you love mommy? No! Do you love daddy? No! Do you love Cupcake? Nooooo! Well, who do you love? ?? Huge smile...points to self....hysterical laughing! !!!!

    1. Candace, I am so psyched to hear Faith is getting around in her walker, independently. I smiled at her joke. GOOD one!

  6. My son who is the king of minimalist/random phrases and wavering eye contact gave me such a thrill a couple of weeks ago. He looked me in the eye as I am buckling him into his car seat and said "Momma, it is really cold outside". Cue my spontaneous happy dance in the driveway and a few tears of gratitude & joy. When you have been in trenches for so long, it seems like the days become a blur of drs appts & therapists and reg life. Then that doubtful, tiny voice that you usually never ever listen to but you happen to now because you are dog tired from all the running around says..."wonder if there will there be any real improvement?" These are the moments that allow you to say YES!


Thanks for sharing!

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