29 December 2009


Most of the time Sheridan's developmental delays aren't a big deal. We don't really notice them 24/7. But at the same time we do, right?

I mean, his most notable delay is that he's not yet walking. He's highly mobile on all fours, and in all honesty, I'm not in a huge rush to race after him when he finally goes upright. I'm constantly chasing him as it is, so I'm accepting this delay for what it is and enjoying my last bit of freedom before Sheridan takes off running.

But, for the most part, if it weren't for assessments, evaluations, etc., Gary and I might not recognize the few delays he has right now. We don't have other children, so we have no true baseline in our personal experience. We don't know what Sheridan "should" be doing based on what his (nonexistent) siblings would be doing or did.

He's 16 months old now, but when he hits the magic 18-month marker all of a sudden he'll have a lot of delays - and any gaps that exist currently will be much wider. All because an assessment tool says that, on average, a child Sheridan's age should be doing - no, not doing... should have mastered - X, Y, and Z on the day he turns 18 months old.

And honestly, I'm cool with that. Totally cool with that. I get what it means to be average. Even "average" on most assessment tools is provided as a range rather than an exact number. And, I do know what it means to be "average" statistically. What "normal" means with regard to these assessments. That kind of language doesn't really bother me as much as it does some parents, I guess because I see it as the language of mathematics (I'm talking only about assessments and evaluations here, not about when ignorant, rude, or cruel people say our kids aren't normal because they have Ds - that's a whole different story).

Even though I'm totally cool with any delays, I have to be honest and say that sometimes I feel like I have to work extra hard. Not that Sheridan has to work extra hard, just me. That I need to provide more opportunities for him to grow. That I need to find more creative ways for him to play in a way that helps him work on various skills. I'm one of those parents who draws a line when it comes to "therapy" - everything we do is play based, taking advantage of opportunities as they arise, and it should never make Sheridan cry. We are definitely okay with challenging him, but we won't cross the line and say therapy must be hard and he has to cry for it to be working.

I know I put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel guilty if we spend a day running errands or eating out, etc. I feel guilty that I didn't spend enough time with him playing so he could (a) have more fun than hanging out in his carseat running all over town and (b) use play to work on his developing skills. Okay, so there's all that, but here's where it all really stings for me...

Sheridan versus His Peers Who are Typically Developing

Sheridan's delays are never more noticeable for me than when I hear comments from my friends who have a child similar in age - sometimes younger - who is doing things that are still in the future for Sheridan. And it's the little things, like a friend (months ago, before Sheridan was crawling) made a quick comment that her son (who is exactly one month younger than Sheridan to the day) had learned to open doors so she needed to do another round of baby proofing.

My stomach flipped and heart sank.

Because I had visions of her son running around the house opening doors. I saw him walking confidently, easily, quickly... even running. I saw him grabbing a door handle and rotating his wrist to open the door. I saw his excellent, effortless motor planning, motor control, balance, and speed.

Things Sheridan doesn't have yet.

It was so hard in that moment to not let that get the better of me. It was hard to think about Sheridan versus this other child. Where he is versus where other kids are. It just makes the mountain we're climbing seem a little steeper, you know?


Why do we do that to ourselves? Or, maybe I'm the only one... but I doubt it.

The good news is that I rarely do this to myself. But it does happen, on occasion.

It never changes how I feel about Sheridan's delays - I know he will accomplish each thing on his own timeline. In his own way. And all I can do - all I want to do - is simply be there to support and guide him.

He leads, I follow.

I rather like the mountain we're climbing together.


  1. The journey up, over and around the mountain is what makes life so amazing. You are a wonderful mom who is doing a fantastic job with raising a beautiful boy. Thank you for sharing. Love, Wendy

  2. I'm right with you, Lisa. I totally don't care that JM has delays, but it gets me when we are given "evaluations" by our pediatrician's office that I have to answer "no" to pretty much every question. It's only then that I realize how "delayed" he is. Otherwise, I could care less because he's doing so well and progressing and that's what matters. It's not the speed at which he achieves his end result, but that he has every opportunity to get to that result. Know what I mean? JM also has a little friend who's 3 1/2 months younger (typically developing) and is starting to TALK to me. That gets me sometimes in the heart. But, oh, well. For now, we'll just smile at our chicken sounds and the joy he brings others.

  3. You are not alone, mama. I totally feel those same emotions on occassion. It is hard but, like you said, it's not a feeling I feel often but that's not to say it doesn't suck when it sneaks up on us. ((hugs))

  4. this is a great and honest post. I find that I've kind of developed tunnel vision in some ways about Archer's development because I, like you, don't see him as delayed, and then when I'm around other (completely alien) "normal" children around his age, I find myself kind of creeped out by what they can do...

  5. I think a lot of moms who have kids w/special needs feel guilty about what they are or aren't doing with their kids to help in their development. I know I struggle with this too. I feel like I really started slacking off once Kayla started school because it was like, ok she's getting all that at school now, so she's not going to want to do more 'work' at home. And I feel so guilty that her 2 week winter break is over on Mon and I didn't work on handwriting schools with her every single day (which she really needs the practice)...but she is so unmotivated to practice writing her name at home, and I don't want to push her and make it a battle. Sigh...it's hard finding the middle. I understand what you're saying!

    ok Sheridan is 16 months old NOW, and MONTHS ago, a friend who has a son one month younger than Sheridan, said her son was opening doors? So he was around 12 months?! Is he exceptionally tall or something that he can reach the doorknobs?! Well Lucas is now 22 months and just over the last month he's been able to actually grasp the doorknobs but he still isn't rotating his wrist to actually open the doors. So, he's typically developing and isn't doing that yet at 22 months :)