“Hello young man”, the nice older lady in the supermarket calls out as we wait to pay for our stash. She grabs my youngest boy’s hand and pauses waiting for a pleasantry back.

Nothing. Looking slightly affronted she moves on.

One, two, three, four, five.

“He-llooo,” my five year old sings back from his specialised pushchair.

But she’s gone. Her loss.

You see my boy has global development delay meaning he is delayed in all areas including cognition.

Therefore, it takes him a little bit longer to interpret the messages from his environment.

One thing you have to learn in spades when you parent a child with additional needs is patience.

Not just because it takes that much longer to dress them or feed them.

Not just because they come with their own equipment entourage, which never makes for speedy getaways anywhere.

And not just because the snail’s pace development would swipe the cheer out of the cheeriest of cheer leaders.

If you don’t have patience you can miss out on the most precious of moments.

We have to learn to wait to get the very best out of our children.

In this busy convenience-laden world where everyone wants everything right NOW that can be a tough ask. 

I am starting to think that my son understands a lot more than I give him credit for, but this will only unravel if I give him more time to process and then communicate his understanding to me.

If I ask him a question, I need to wait a few beats to let him attempt an answer.

It is too tempting to fire the question again confusing him.

And when he is trying to get himself into a new position in our never-ending quest to master basic gross motor skills, I have to sit on my hands so I don’t reach to help him.

Sometimes I need to give him space to try and figure it all out himself.

The other day I was waving him off on school transport and I blew him a kiss before signing ‘I love you’ through the window.

Standard practice each day.

If I had wandered off to chat to his guide and not stood still for a few beats I would have missed out on something quite wonderful.

I would never have seen him grin as he tapped his chest back.

The sign for love.

If I needed no other confirmation, then this was it.

The five-second delay is worth waiting for.

Always.

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