Age is just a number

Sara Stythe by Sara Stythe Additional Needs

Sara Stythe

Sara Stythe

By sharing our experiences of what it is like raising a child with special needs people can understand our little people a bit better. Hopefully th...

Age is just a number

When people ask how old Isla is we currently reply 12 but always need to give an explanation. “She’s 12 but much younger”. “She’s 12 but more like a preschooler”. “She’s 12 but she’s not”.

All through a child’s younger years until adulthood they are measured against milestones.

When your child’s age doesn’t match up to these developmental goals it’s hard to know where they sit.

When Isla was younger it was a little easier to make sense of. She always was 2 years behind with her behaviour.

That didn’t seem too bad until we had to send our 3 year old to school. Over the years the gap has widened considerably.

It is hard to quantify.

You could say in some ways Isla is stuck in her preschool years enjoying Thomas the Tank Engine, Paw Patrol and Disney Cars.

Her ability to write and formulate sentences is very basic. Her behaviour and reactions can be very immature like that of a much younger child.

However there are some aspects that are much older. Such as her enquiring mind, observations and a little bit of tween sass.

Her physical body doesn’t know her mind is much younger and still develops as it should. She is becoming a child in an adult’s body.

Age becomes irrelevant.

When I compare Isla to her sisters at the same age their lives seem so far apart. I cannot even comprehend or imagine what she “should” be at this age.

It really is a strange place to be.

We navigate life with Isla with blinkers on staying in our own lane not wanting to catch glimpse of normality. It is easier like this for Isla and for us.

It is the same when people ask what year she is at school.

When people enquire and we say that Isla is going to College next year people tend to have a preconceived idea of what that means.

Isla’s reality for normal college life is so far away from the norm how do you put this into words and make sense of it.

This next stage of growing up to become a teenager doesn’t seem like a step towards opportunity and independence like it does for others.

Those college years fly by so fast and for Isla it’s the start of navigating uncharted waters transitioning into an unstructured life trying to find purpose.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

We have to create a new normal for Isla and age and the expectations it brings has no place in our lives.

Isla is doing amazingly well and this is measured by her happiness, her willingness to try new things and finding her place in this world.

This is what we focus on, trying to take one day at a time and not comparing her life with others.


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