I’ve long since given up comparing Jacob to other children his age (11 years) something I used to do a lot in the early days. I had almost forgotten that he would have been in the same year group my best friend’s daughter if he had attended mainstream school. The difference between them is vast it’s now beyond compare. Years ago when Jacob was a baby I gave up going to toddler groups because all the other mums’ babies were changing except mine. Back then we didn’t really know anything was “wrong” with the little man but deep down I did and my mind would race ahead. I would leave those groups with a cold panic in my stomach, go home and try to make him track a toy with his eyes and reach for it.
Things are different now. Jacob has moved on but very slowly and I don’t really think about his age at all most of the time. He is where he is. I don’t compare him because he is like no other child I’ve known (or it seems no other child his paediatricians and geneticist have known!)I can’t compare him to other children who have autistic behaviour because he’s not really like them! There are so many issues that complicate everything about him and they all overlap like a very messy vendiagram!
However, from time to time those milestones he hasn’t reached, and more than likely will never reach come back and smack me in the face again.
In September Jacob entered the secondary department of his school and I was suddenly reminded that he should have been going to the school his big sister attends. When term finished there was an assembly at his school where all the children moving on or up have a small presentation and are given their folders with all their achievements. As Jacob received his I was acutely aware of how far he’d come since he started when he was 3 ½. Look, he’s walking and he couldn’t sit back then, but look how he was learning how to use PECs in speech therapy and we are STILL trying to do this! Some steps are so small and it can be heart breaking but that’s the reality. I am reminded that there are some normal milestones we will never experience with him. He will never say mummy or daddy (he’s non verbal), have a first day at big school, take GCSEs (special schools don’t have any of that nonsense!)and I joke that we will never have to worry about drinking, parties and drugs! So after his presentation in July I was sad for quite a few days but now I know its OK. It’s OK to feel sad because it is sad and from time to time I will feel it and later it will pass and I can get on. “It” will never go away completely and I will never get over it but I don’t have to. I can accept that it will creep up on me now and again, go with it and then move on for a bit. I can see the milestone Jacob has achieved and I’m beginning to let go of the ones he never will.