How do you know? — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

How do you know?

by Kevin


How do you know what typical development is? Even though my daughter has Cerebral Palsy which is not necessarily behavioral she still exhibits some behavioral issues. She has trouble adjusting to change and can and does completely loose it when things change on her unexpectedly. That said she is seven years old and lost of seven year old’s must exhibit that behavior.

Here is one of the more difficult things about being a dad. I tend be positive. I tend to be encouraging. I tend to think most things are normal or typical which ever word your prefer. My wife sees behavior like I describe above and gets worried. She is concerned that our daughter need some help to adjust. Now as a smart man I’ve learned that my wife’s intuition is usually dead on, but still I wonder.

So I ask how do you know what is typical behavior and what is atypical? When do you decide to take action?

My wife says there is nothing wrong with going to see a counselor but I worry that it can hurt my daughters self esteem. I know they are not supposed to do that, but I grew up with dyslexia and I know first hand that seeing a tutor, and a counselor hurt mine. Maybe it’s different I’m a boy but I’d sure like to know.

Merry Christmas!

Email Author    |    Website About Kevin

Kevin is the father of 3 and in the computer business. His My Spelling Sucks is about his experiences as a dyslexic, ADD dad of a daughter with CP. He recently began the DADvocate project to redefine the image of “Dad” as portrayed in modern media. Kevin is also one of the founding board member of Let's Cure CP an organization dedicated to funding research that is looking to cure Cerebral Palsy.

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1 Trish December 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I tend to look at a lot of behavior as related to the child’s developmental level, which means that most of it is typical behavior that kids go through, just maybe not matching their chronological age.

I recently heard a speaker say to close your eyes when faced with a behavior and ask yourself what age that behavior sounds like. That will give you an idea what developmental level you are dealing with.

So if your child is 8 years old but responds to a disappointment more like a 5 year old, you need to handle them like you would a 5 year old in that situation and not a typical 8 year old.

I think engaging a psychologist or someone like that who is knowledgeable in child development can be useful in helping you identify where your child is and how to respond to them to help them at their current developmental level. It shouldn’t affect your daughter negatively as long you meet with the person first to make sure you approve of their philosophy and methods.

2 Jen December 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I’ve read, and experienced with my ow CP, that changes in the environment can actually be very hard to deal with.

I know that I personally have a difficult time change both big and small and thrive on a routine, even at 30 years old.

I could be wrong but I’ve always been told that behavior and (in rare or severe cases) cognitive issues can and do affect people with CP.

3 Jo December 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I think it is hard to know what is typical vs not. My two boys have hypotonia, lax joints, possible myopathy. The youngest is four and more affected.
Both like things to be the same and find change difficult to adapt to. My feeling is sometimes the need for control and sameness is that then the world feels safer. It can be difficult to be in a body that doesn’t let you do what you or perhaps others want you to do as easily as your peers…

4 KDL December 23, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I ask myself this question all the time. My oldest child has ASD, her two younger siblings appear to be fairly neurotypical, but every once in a while one of them will do something that sets off alarm bells in my baffled brain. My boy currently lines up cars fairly frequently – but he also plays with them in totally typical ways. My girl gets very withdrawn in new settings and takes a while to warm up – occasionally refusing to talk.
So far I just watch these things and take note of them, and I guess the line for me is: does it interfere in any way with their daily functioning? So if your daughter is sensitive to change or unexpected events to the extent that it makes her (and thus you and your wife) unhappy on a daily basis then maybe it is something to be addressed because change happens…and can’t always be avoided. That’s my two cents.

5 Kevin December 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

@Trish, I think your thoughts make sense and that’s basically why we are at the psychologist. @Jen, I have a good friend who I grew up with who also has CP. He has had to deal with a lot of change over the years and has always seemed to deal with it well but I’ve never asked him directly if it is difficult for him. I think I need to.

@Jo you are right about the fact that being in a body that doesn’t work the way you want it to can be difficult and I hate watching how difficult some things are for my daughter. However the world won’t change much around her needs so she has to adapt.I do my best to help her with that but I want to encourage an understanding that change IS and always WILL BE. It the only constant thing you can take comfort in.

@KDL thanks your two cents, makes sense for me.

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