Developmental vs chronological age is so important to learn with your child with autism. Logan used to hate to lose as in would have a complete meltdown if he lost. It was a trait that we had to work on quite religiously for quite a while . No one wants to play with a kid that throws a fit when he loses. We had to have him work on this at his developmental level not his chronological age. For example , for Logan this meant that he was 11 years old but could relate to other kids who were 8 or 9 years old.
This took me a long time to learn and was even harder to accept. It was excruciating to go with what is in his zone of proximal development rather than what other almost 11 year old children are doing. I have cried and prayed many a night for the wisdom to know what is best for Logan and the strength to do it. Sometimes you know what is right but it is so hard to do it. It’s painful to see that your child is behind his peers. You have to swallow the pain to do what is best for your child.
With that in mind along with the grace of God, I made a few decisions that proved to be phenomenal for Logan. First, he stayed in the 3rd & 4th grade Sunday School class when it came time to move up to the next class. He could not hang with 5th graders not to mention that he was not going to be ready for the youth group in a year like the others in that group. So, we stayed in the class. The class is smaller and some of the more boisterous boys moved on thankfully. The sad part was that some of the girls that have helped him in the past like Brooke and Emma moved on to the older class. They could not have helped him anymore anyway as they are split up into gender specific classes from 5th grade & up. The super awesome part was that Logan stayed in the same class as Thomas. They are 2 peas in a pod. They have similar interests, homeschooled, and are both quiet and laid back. With Thomas, I didn’t have to worry about whether Logan was being bullied or if the other kid was being mean to him. Sadly, this is not always the case everywhere even at church. The teachers were amazing to not only allow Logan to stay there but to work with him at his level.
Here’s an interesting scenario. In children’s church Logan was always paired with a certain person. When I asked why, I was informed that Logan hates to lose. Hello? I know that. What does that have to do with this person? Apparently, Logan was ok to lose to her. He doesn’t come unglued or have a meltdown with her. He still loses every time to her. Every single time. The better solution would have been to pair Logan up with a younger child where he had a chance at winning . A different game or more supports in place to help him navigate the game would have preferred. But that’s ok. I witnessed first hand how awesome she was with Logan. Before the Christmas musical one December, Logan was in sensory overload from the loud music. She took Logan by the arm and lead him to a quiet spot where she spoke quietly with him until he calmed down. Then she helped him get into his spot and all went well.
Other children often see our special needs children as no different from them. They don’t care about chronological age. They just want to play. The best thing you can do for your child with autism is to forget his age. Focus on his developmental level. Help him to fill in the gaps where needed so he can move on to the higher order thinking he needs to be successful for the rest of his life. I won’t lie. It’s mentally tough to do it. The rewards will far outweigh the pain, I promise.