There is so much concern and questions raised about the spectrum of Autism that I thought it might be helpful to list some normal development aspects for babies and toddlers before the age of five. This will be in a series of posts, determined by the physical age of the child.
Today’s post is for children ages 60 months to Kindergarten Entry.
From “Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks–Review Draft, November 2004.”
Goal: Children demonstrate belief in their abilities and are proud of their accomplishments
Some Indicators for Children:
- Approaches new tasks and situations enthusiastically.
- Expresses delight over a successful project and wants others to like it too.
- Joins small groups confident after observing for a short time.
Some Strategies for Caregivers:
- Provide child with challenging opportunities that will enhance abilities.
- Give child realistic chores and make a chart of all the work accomplished.
- Demonstrate confidence in child by allowing him/her to make reasonable decisions and choices.
By the time a child starts Kindergarten, the child is typically comfortable and looks forward to playing with peers. There are two basic types of play: parallel play and interactive play.
Before a child learns to SHARE, GIVE and BE PATIENT, that child will probably seek comfort in parallel play. These are children who can play in the same space, but they do not play with the same toys or try to interact in a team-building experience. These are usually three-four year olds who still clutch what is theirs and feel threatened if another toddler takes anything that they feel belongs to them.
In interactive play, children seek to join in with their peers. They are often watchful at first, trying to figure out how to “play” like the others. Often this type of play shows parents the budding personality structure of their child: confident, shy, demanding, fearful, determined, etc. At this time, parents can help a child to become more successful by learning from the child and then playing later with the child and helping the child to overcome possible constraints; or, helping the child to include others in a leadership role.
When children are unable to be responsive to others, do not seek accolades, are uncomfortable with small groups, have a set routine and finds new tasks challenging–these children are at risk for not being able to be successful in a typical classroom setting. These children need assessment and intervention to help them build upon their strengths.
If you know of a child who is struggling with the above criteria, seek out knowledgable people who can provide an understanding of the child’s behavior and gentle intervention methods.
If you know of a parent of a child who is struggling, offer to listen, to learn from them. You may not be able to offer respite care, but you can be a friend who makes that extra trip to the store for them. The amount of energy that parents exert to help their children who do not have the resources to always and easily obey requests is enormorous. Friendship is invaluable to the parent who lives every day loving and caring for the child who is struggling.
Be gentle with yourself and those who are in your life’s circle.