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The Mystery of the great Delay

August 7, 2013




Going through those developmental tests is so difficult and emotionally taxing.  I’ve had two children go through them so far.  Rett is always behind in at least a few areas.  Evie was behind but is now pretty much caught up.  How does this happen? you ask yourself.  Are the things they are expecting ‘normal’?  Why is my kid behind and everyone else’s is fine with little to no intervention?


One thing really opened my eyes to the hidden reason BEHIND Rett’s delays (in some areas) has been Evie and getting dressed.   With Rett, we worked on teaching him exactly how to get dressed. We had to modify things as we noticed him struggling.   We practiced while helping, then slowly gave him more and more independence.  Still, although we know he can do it, his frustration level is so low he often asks us for help and has to be sent into the other room to dress without having a meltdown from his frustration.   He has a few pairs of shoes he can get on himself. If you want him to wear a different pair, he will say they are ‘too small’.   Sometimes I know its really our fault.  We give in, we help, we enable his whining and crying to work.  But its exhausting to be firm all the time.   You look at him crying and you think ‘it would be so easy for me to help him get it over his head this one time’. Or maybe it really IS too tight?  Maybe he really can’t do it. Even though you know he can.  And so its a vicious cycle of the parent having to be willing to let things take longer and remind themselves the child is able even though they don’t appear to be.


Then enters Evie.  One morning at the mountains she came out of the potty with her pants on inside out.  And I realized.  She took them all the way off and put them on all by herself.   With no teaching.  We had been working on NOT pulling her panties and pants all the way off after going potty because she wasn’t able to pull them all the way back on and it was seriously annoying dressing her 100 times a day.   Now she’s determined to put her entire outfit on all by herself.   And watch out if you try to help.




The difference between Evie and Rett which I do believe is the basis of his delay is that Evie has a desire to want to do things independently.  Rett doesn’t WANT to dress himself.  Evie somehow naturally wants to be independent.  Rett doesn’t.  Or maybe he doesn’t want to more than his frustration level can handle.  Of course its all very hard to understand.


Another example is putting on their seat belts in the car.  Evie figured out she could put her seat belt on all by herself and now refuses to let you help her.  Rett has to be reminded every time and if you help him, he doesn’t really care.


I’m not saying this explains every delay we deal with but I also saw a similar thing with language. Once Rett realized how powerful language was to get what he wanted and communicate, he was a lot more willing to use language and work to improve.   There seems to be a disconnect between him seeing the purpose behind learning all these skills that a child that is typically (or semi-typically) developing just has.  Its more than just an inability to do something. And its also harder to teach a child WHY should you want to get dressed by yourself vs how do you get dressed by yourself.


Has anyone else noticed any of this with their own spectrum kiddos?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel Dunk permalink
    August 7, 2013 7:46 pm

    Laura – I seriously could have written exactly that about Kain and Sara. Absolutely 100% the same with the same things – dressing & seat belts. Although Kain actually won’t even TRY the seatbelt because ‘it’s too hard’, and he gets frustrated & has a massive meltdown. You are so not alone xx

  2. August 7, 2013 8:37 pm

    “Has anyone else noticed any of this with their own spectrum kiddos?”

    YES! Dylan refuses to try to remove clothing unless prompted, and even then he will get frustrated very easily if he can’t do it right away or properly. He does like to buckle his seat belt, and at one point didn’t want me to do it, but lately he doesn’t try to go that either.

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