The Journey Through Development: The Sixth Month
By: Michelle VanderHeide, BSW
Development is a complex process, and truly amazing when you break it down. Each little gain that a child makes is a miracle, especially when you begin to look at the complexity of the brain. The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is the part of the brain used to read and understand emotions. This is one small part of the brain; but what if this part of the brain isn’t firing at the same time as the part that comprehends the words coming in with the facial expressions? A lot of meaning within communication would be missed. Research shows that the brains of children with autism do not fire as quickly as children who are developing neuro-typically. It’s not because of anything the parents have done (or not done) while raising their child with autism that caused their child to develop this neurological disorder. Instead, for whatever reason, the child’s brain is not firing as quickly as a child on a neuro-typical pathway. As a result, a child with autism can miss many of the vital points of development.
Over the past several months, I have written about observations I’ve made about my son. With each child that develops neuro-typically, you will see common goals being reached. Are these things you have noticed in each of your children as they developed? Are you or other people the most important thing in your child’s environment? Below are more things that I have observed about my son, now 6 months old:
- You continue to become more aware of your surroundings. I can no longer lay you down in bed and simply walk out. You know whether or not I’m in the room and you scream the second I walk away. If I come back, you stop screaming once you see me and give me a huge smile, like saying “I just won!”
- A month ago, you were just starting to roll over; but now you roll over and over and over again. You find yourself in many interesting places around the house, such as getting stuck under a blanket, under the coffee table, or you’ve rolled away from your toys and can’t seem to get back. You look to me for help, and I’m always happy to come and pull you out of the trouble you’ve gotten into.
- I took you out for coffee with me the other day to meet a girlfriend of mine and her 8-month old son. The two of you found each other immediately, and began to communicate instantly. You’d scream, and then he’d scream back. You’d hit the table with your hand, and then he’d do the same thing. The two of you also began to fight over the same “toys” – you both seemed to like the crinkly paper best!
- You are so interested in everything around you! You love to explore new things, and I can’t keep up with your grabby hands. I’ll be changing your diaper, and you’ll pull a blanket over your head. If you are sitting on my lap at the table, everything within reach is in your mouth or on the floor. You are also grabbing at my face, jewelry, or hair all the time. I know we are going to be in trouble when you start crawling!
- It’s clear that you recognize people who are familiar to you. You always give daddy the biggest welcome when he comes home. You also give a scream when your sisters are coming toward you. The other day we visited grandma in the hospital, and she looked different than normal. You looked at her and studied her, but would not let her give you the hugs and kisses you normally receive. Once grandpa took you, you settled right down; but you wouldn’t take your eyes off grandma. The amount of time you study and observe things is fascinating. You did eventually warm up to her.
- You played peek-a-boo with daddy, and laughed harder than I’ve ever seen before. Daddy started pulling the blanket off his own head, and almost immediately you were reaching for the blanket to pull it off. Daddy would make a funny face or say “boo,” and you would crack up. Then daddy put the blanket over your head, and you figured out immediately to pull it off and laugh even harder. Soon daddy would run off and hide after he put the blanket over you, and you would immediately look around to find him. Once you found him, you would laugh harder yet. We all were in tears laughing with you. I noticed later that if I walked into a different room, you would keep looking at the door waiting for me to walk back out. What an awesome and fun development!
- You love listening to the sound of your voice. I hear you practicing all kinds of sounds now: “aaaaaa, dadadadada, phthththth” – as spit flies! You think that’s really funny!
If you find that some or all of the developmental goals that my son is making have been missed by your child, consider the CORE Approach approach to bring your child back to the neuro-typical pathway of development. This is a great quote to keep in mind as we forge through the journey of development, which at times can be very trying: “Forget the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey instead!” The CORE Approach journey may be hard, but the outcome won’t disappoint!