It is strange how things change so much when you have a child with complex needs.

You become hardened to negativity and difficult medical reports.

You cry at the strangest of things but you also find delight in things others would be broken hearted about.

Last month was one of those times. I was sitting alone at yet another meeting listening to more information on my son.

This time it was results of recent developmental and communication assessments.

Some results were hard to hear, like the fact my seven and a half year old had the expressive language of a six month old baby.

That HAS to affect you.

It means that for seven years, or 72 months, or 364 weeks, however you choose to look at it, his communication has not changed.

Let me illustrate that for you in two pictures: 

His body has grown, his physical skills matured, his appetite increased, his weight quadrupled yet his ability to express himself verbally stood still.

That really brings it home.

So it was in this setting, and having just taken in this news, that I found myself grinning from ear to ear when they went on to say his overall development, his ability to understand language, his functional everyday skills and physical skills were all MUCH higher, an entire year higher than his expressive language. 

I was indeed delighted to hear my seven year old is actually functioning at 18 months.

Yes I know that means he is still six years below his peers. I am not in denial at the extent of his complex needs.

I am in no way underestimating the difficulties he faces, but I am rejoicing in how far he has come. 

He may be much much slower than everyone else but we are moving in the right direction and this is progress.

Have you any idea how amazing toddlers are?

A quick google at developmental milestones the average 18 month old has achieved and you may be amazed what the humble toddler can indeed do.

Here are a few of the amazing things my son can do now at seven and a half or 18 months: 

- he can point.

- he can help dress himself by putting his hands up when you take a top off him.

- he pretends to give a teddy something to eat

- he takes me by the hand to what he wants

- he can use a spoon by himself

- he can drink out of a cup

- he can walk on his own

- he can point to his head when I sing 'head, shoulders, knees and toes'

- he now understands key phrases like 'bath time', 'bed time' and 'dinner's ready'

- he can find a seat and sit down

- he now knows if I hide a toy under something it is still there even if he can not see it.

- he knows shoes go on his feet, hats go on his head and pyjamas are for bedtime.

These are amazing! 

Had he reached any of these fabulous milestones at 18 months I may have just taken them for granted.

But reaching them six years later is even more cause to celebrate. 

For a child with complex needs to be able to do these things is truly wonderful. 

They thought I should be sad to hear my boy is still a toddler when in fact he is almost as tall as me. I don't think they expected me to be so happy that day.

It really is strange how things change when you have a child with complex needs.

I will have plenty other times of sadness but today we have something to be happy about. I have an 18 month old seven year old and I am delighted! 

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