Does the Age You Achieve Actually Matter?

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

There is also talk about the age of retirement being raised as life expectancy increases and people choose to work longer.

More and more females are delaying starting families until later and mobile phone and internet usage among senior citizens is continuing to increase.

What does all this say? It tells me we are never too old to learn and achieve and that age really is a matter of opinion.

Yet sadly at the other end of life so much pressure is placed on parents if their child is not meeting milestones such a crawling, walking or speaking by a certain age.

If an adult learns to drive much older no-one thinks anything of it. If a couple in their forties or fifties gets married everyone rejoices just the same.

Yet if a child is delayed in more than two areas of their development, such a social, language, gross motor skills or cognitive development they are often told they have 'global developmental delay'.

That was the first ever diagnosis given to my baby boy when he was just 22 months old.

He had no language, no social awareness, never turned to his name, could not walk and was not playing age appropriately.

He went on to receive many more diagnosis over the years and now at 8 his diagnosis of global developmental delay is gradually being changed to significant learning difficulty.

He was unable to attend mainstream school and at 8 still has no spoken language and is still not toilet trained.

He can not stand on one leg or ride a scooter. He can not read or write or spell words. He can not dress himself or play with others.

But he HAS achieved so much.

He can now point. He can use an iPad. He can eat with a spoon and a fork. He understands more than he ever did before. He can walk and run.

He can climb in and out the bath. He can sit in a seat unaided and work simple baby toys. He can turn the pages in a book and work out which way round it goes.

He can press the right number from 1-5, he can point to basic parts of his body. He can make a choice between two items.

Does it matter when any of these skills were achieved?

He has a long way to go and he will never be on par with his peers. He will require care for the rest of his life.

I have no idea if or when he will ever speak and if he will ever master toilet training.

While these fundamental skills are things we all take for granted it is also worth asking the question...does the age we achieve things actually matter?

Put it this way...when we're you last asked as an adult at what age you were toilet trained or when you first wrote your own name? Hardly relevant as an adult is it?

Once we master a skill we never look back whatever age we achieve. We are always learning and developing and we must never look down on anyone who achieves anything later than ourselves.

I passed my drivers test at age 19; my husband was 40 before he passed his.

We both drive daily now and I have no idea if the driver in front of me has been driving one day or one thousand days...and that is how it should be!

This week my 8 year old painted a picture. To most it was a scribble but to him it was a massive achievement.

He also noticed and wanted to feed a friend's rabbit. This is huge progress and these are things many take for granted but parents like myself celebrate so earnestly.

While society actively encourages and rewards adults for achieving later in life we often don't offer the same grace to children who, for whatever reason, are blooming in their own time.

Flowers that bloom late are often the prettiest and the most hardy. They bring joy and beauty well after others have died in early autumn.

My son put clothes pegs on a tea set today and pretended they were chips to eat.

I never ever thought I would see pretend play and today I did.

He is 8.

Does the age you achieve actually matter?

As long as you are achieving then keep achieving in your own time and your own way.

Let each of us bloom and shine in our own precious time.


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