How to Understand Autism: Developmental Differences

It takes a lot of wise observation to understand autism. It's easy to misjudge what the child is doing and why.  Let me explain.

Typical development

When observing children who are demonstrating typical development, it becomes immediately obvious that there is a broad range of what's considered "acceptable behavior." 

In spite of individual differences, there are predictable sequences and time frames for growth and development. In addition, there are typical protests and difficulties that children will have as they grow.

There are also common reasons for children not doing what their parents want. Have you ever heard of the "terrible twos?" That's when strong behaviors emerge when young children begin to learn the power of their communication.

Or what about those teens who feel a burst of power when they get taller than their parents? They begin to strive for a level of independence that adults may not deem appropriate.

As children with special needs mature, generally, they will experience the same challenges and milestones that their peers face. 

Looking through the lens of autism or special needs

When dealing with a child with special needs like autism or ADHD, it's easy for the adults to fall into the pattern of looking at everything the child does through the lens of their diagnostic label.

That means everything he does is because he is autistic or has ADHD or has sensory issues or you can fill in the blank with many labels.

But here's an important question.  How do you differentiate between those "typical" issues that all kids have and the special difficulties specifically related to that child's special learning needs?

This can become a problem for parents and educators. It requires knowledge of typical development and also understanding of the dimensions of the child's special needs.

Keep a Balanced Perspective 

It’s important to balance your thinking so you can sort through to see which issues are related to a child’s special needs and which things occur just because kids are kids.

The better you understand autism or other special learning needs, the better you'll be able to sort out the issues.

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