I’m one of the first people to encourage other parents to chuck the milestones books out the window. The ones that tell you what your child should be doing at 75.34 weeks to me do little except make you increase your antacid budget every month. The obvious exception to this is that if you suspect that your child is very delayed in one or more areas, go figure that out both through reading and with your pediatrician and other professionals. There’s a big difference between being 1.8 weeks behind and 18 months behind.
This is probably a blinding flash of the obvious for parents of kids with delays, but after a few months in Early Intervention and therapies and whatnot, you completely lose touch with what ‘developmentally normal’ is. It really is a time warp. At this point, I would have a hard time telling you how far behind our son is. We’re doing things on J-Man Daylight Time and ignoring how most of the rest of the planet tells time. He’ll do it when he does it, has become our motto (at least on our good days).
With J-Man showing some exceptional skills in some areas in the midst of being very delayed on most everything else, we’ve felt the need to go back and figure out what ‘normal’ is for an almost-three-year-old. At a parenting level, I’m not sure how much I’m concerned about this at this point. Like I said, he’ll get there when he gets there, at least I keep telling myself that. However, for purposes of getting him into preschool and doing his IEP, we need to get some handle on where he is (that Present Levels of Performance thing – with the wonderful acronym PLOP).
It’s hard to find to milestones charts that translate well into autism-ese. The obvious problem is that your autistic toddler could easily be two or more years plus or minus what is developmentally ‘normal’ for a three-year-old on these charts. He or she will likely be scattered all over the chart. You have to transpose quite a bit with them, but after thinking through it a bit, I still could get a rough idea.
At the bottom of this post are some links I found to help us get started. Hopefully they’re useful to you as well. I can’t vouch for their complete accuracy or anything, but they’re consistent enough with each other for what I was looking for.
I did discover that J-Man’s letter identification is probably on par with a level of 4-5 years old (he’ll be 3 in a couple of months if you just got here), just minus the ability to say some of them. If he’s in a relaxed state, he can point to any letter you ask for. Lowercase still confuses him for a good half of the letters, but that’s understandable. He’s getting there with numbers and has consistently identified five colors (again, when he’s in a relaxed state). With colors, I usually give him three to choose from (solid-color, construction paper squares) and ask him to point to ‘red’ or whatever. If he goes 10/10, he’ll get the proverbial gold star and we’ll start trying to identify colors in other contexts.
[Worth nothing that if you say something like “point to the green frog” he just stares at the floor. Combining a color and an object – ‘green frog’ – is too much to sort through as he has to figure out what’s green and what’s a frog at the same time. So, we just do “point to green” at this point.]
The key is the ‘relaxed state’. If he’s calm, he can do this stuff one to two years beyond age level. Otherwise, it’s a lost cause. Hitting that sweet spot is hard, which is as much the battle as anything. This is totally a sensory processing issue, which we’re working on constantly.
OK, enough of my rambling on. Here are the links I stumbled on. These center on speech, language, and literacy milestones. If you know of others, let us know.