“Your Child’s Development Is As Unique As Their Fingerprint”
I wish someone whispered this to me 17 years ago. Instead I was handed pregnancy books, rigid sleep guides & a milestone benchmark list. A list that didn’t and still doesn’t fit several of our wonderfully made babes.
With our first, I lost sight of the “wonderfully” bit, putting way too much emphasis on what his peers were doing….obsessing, reading, stressing. I wanted him to be Mr Neurotypical, so as to not feel the pain of feeling left out or left behind.
Seven babies on I have learnt a lot. We now have a full spectrum of neurological types in our family. On my down days I have despaired; SPD, ADHD, ADD, gifted, synthesia . Some with auditory memory issues, some who are sensory avoiders and some who are sensory seekers. You name it, it feels like we have experienced it at some point in our parenting. Add some extreme introverts AND extreme extroverts, and wow we have a dynamic mix. On the hard days, I punish myself. Did I do something in pregnancy? Did I take my vitamins? Are their deficiencies my fault? On the really hard days, I experience jealousy toward other families who seemingly have neurotypical kids. It seems they can just enjoy their kids, without the need to keep plugging up holes in their development.
On the good days I pick up and look at my children through a very different lens. A heavenly one. When I do, I feel such an assurance that I was chosen for this path. To have 8 very different children, all destined for very different paths. And their development is never meant to look the same as another. As wonderful as the educational system is, it can’t cater for every type of development & learning style. It is impossible and our teachers can only do what they can (being a teacher myself!) So far, only 3 of our 8 thrive within that model. And I have accepted that that’s ok. A D grade doesn’t mean a D grade brain. They will find their lane eventually in which they can thrive…. maybe at tafe….at uni….in the workforce….or online. In the process it’s their self-belief that we must protect.
So many years into parenting…watching, observing and many podcasts later, I now know that it takes 25 years (or more) for our children’s brains to fully develop. And I have noticed that my kids’ brains often develop in leaps. Just when I start worrying about a particular area, whether it be speech, motor or social skills, emotional regulation….. they will suddenly leap ahead. It may require seeking a diagnosis to gain access to resources and help. But it doesn’t mean your child’s mind is broken. I wish they removed the term “disorder” from diagnosis’ as it infers deficiency rather than design. That term kept me entrapped for far too long as a mum. Their development is unique and perfect for them, and their future.
I see each of our kids like unique plants, all with such different potential. The soil I place them in must be designed to nourish their unique DNA. Some soils need more toiling, some more water. Others just need space to thrive in their creativity. If your child is not thriving in a particular soil, you may need to repot and try something new. You will find the right mix, I assure you, eventually. Look for the keys; the activities that light them up and motivate them intrinsically.
So if there is anyone that needs to hear this today; your child is beautifully unique. Their brain, their development, their track of growth is as unique as their fingerprint. No one is quite like them. Even the possible set backs because of lockdowns, just adds another line to their fingerprint, another line to their story. A line that their generation will have in common.
Parents, join with me, study your child like a rare plant, and toil their soil accordingly. Let’s gift this world with the most wonderful array, according to their miraculous design. And never lose hope, sometimes the ones that need the most toiling while they are young, bear the greatest fruit as they mature.