Is there a window of opportunity in autism? Does it magically shut at a certain age? The theory is that all hope is lost at that point. The child can’t learn anything new . You grieve the fact that you didn’t know about that treatment before it was too late. You might as well lose all hope in anything changing. Hogwash, I say.
Anyone who knows anything about neuroplasticity knows that our brain is constantly changing. New neural pathways are being developed continuously. If that wasn’t the case then older adults wouldn’t be able to go back to college. They couldn’t learn anything because the window of opportunity was closed. That sounds beyond absurd when you say it like that. Why is it different for children with autism? What gives them this mysterious window that their brains are unable to learn new things after a certain age? Why are they destined to be lost in the fog of autism because they are older?
Logan didn’t talk until the Easter after his fifth birthday. Seriously. Not one word. In his Easter basket were a set of ABC magnets with pictures of animals to correspond with the letter. My mother in law had spoken the words out loud to him in no particular order when she said duck for the letter B. Logan looked at her quizzically then said clear as day, “Bird”. He then handed her back the magnet. We all stood there awestruck. I may or may not have cried at the sound of his voice.
We were told by autism “experts” at the time that if he didn’t speak before he turned 5 then the odds were high that we would never hear his voice. I cried all day on his 5th birthday . I grieved for the child who would never say my name. I thought all hope was lost. Funny thing was that Madison was 6 months old on that date. She had entered the babbling stage. We described everything to her. Little did we know that Logan was listening as well. That was his developmental level for speech although we didn’t know it at the time. We worked with him and her at the same level allowing him to fill in gaps .
You can apply the same notion to home school. Just because your child isn’t doing algebra yet in 11th grade doesn’t mean he never will. There are lots of children without autism that learn to read in 3rd grade or later. Fill in the gaps developmentally to see big gains. I know I say that a lot but it is so important.
Dismiss the “experts” or well meaning relatives who tell you it’s too late for your child to do whatever. It’s never too late to learn something new. Even slow progress is progress. It may take years. Your child may never graduate or go to college. Do the best you can with what you have . Celebrate every little achievement for what it is, victory.
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