A Journey Through Infant Development: The Eighth Month
By: Michelle VanderHeide, BSW
Guided Participation is a concept that is not new, it’s the way we have always learned: parents supporting an infant as she learns to walk, a chemistry teacher demonstrating how to carefully mix chemicals, a college student observing through an internship, and a teenager in driver’s education learning the rules and steps to driving. Without guided participation, we’d have to learn everything on our own, rather than through others’ experiences; and we’d all feel lost and scared. Our world would be a mess! When I look at my 8 month old son, I’m amazed by all the things he has already accomplished through his ability to observe others.
- You are such a blessing in my life! Daily I am amazed at how much you’ve grown. Sometimes I look at you in bed and think, where has my little baby gone? Where have those opportunities of lying on the couch with you and getting cuddle time gone? I miss those times when you’d just sleep on my chest; yet I am so thankful that you have grown into the rambunctious little boy that you are.
- You know that you aren’t alone, and that if you are uncertain or confused about something you can look to me for help. The other day you were playing with a ball – like you often do – and it rolled under the couch. Instead of getting upset, you rolled your way over there and started reaching under the couch. You were unable to reach the ball, so you sat up and looked right at me. You had that look of “help me mom” on your face. I was happy to move the ball a little closer to you so you could successfully pull it out.
- You are getting places pretty quickly with your army crawl, but you are intrigued by integrating your legs at the same time. On the one hand, I’d love for you to do a full crawl; but I don’t mind you helping to keep the floors clean either. When your sisters are crawling around on the floor, you are watching them carefully. It won’t be long now and you’ll get it! You also like to pull yourself up to see what’s on the table or couch. You try hard to stand, but you haven’t quite got it yet. You get up to your knees, and we can just see your beautiful blue eyes peering over the top of the coffee table. It’s so cute.
- You initiate play all the time now. You often start to clap so we’ll play patty cake with you. You start clapping (both hands open now) and look at me with a big smile. If I say “patty cake” you start smiling even bigger, and start clapping again. You think you are so funny. You watch all the hand actions closely, and you pretty much have every move down now. Once we get through the whole routine, you start it over again.
- Every time I play a game or do a puzzle with one of your sisters, you want to be right in the middle of it all. You scoot over and get mad if you can’t play, too. You notice that you aren’t getting all of the attention. The other day grandma was holding your younger cousin, and you didn’t like that at all. You squealed while scooting all the way over to grandma’s legs. You pulled at her pant legs, trying to get your way back to her arms. You are so spoiled and so loved! It’s amazing to me how observant of your surrounding you are.
- A new trick you picked up is waving “goodbye.” You watch me closely while I show you how to wave. Sometimes you choose to join in the waving, other times you just smile. It’s like you are playing a game – “I know how to do that, but I’m getting a lot of attention; so I’ll just let them keep waving at me.” When you do wave, you wave like you are Miss America, with the fancy back and forth wave. Very silly coming from a baby, but so unique to you. I think it’s beautiful.
As a neuro-typical child, my son continues to reach new milestones on a regular basis. He is able to watch others and learn from them. The dynamic world is fascinating to him; yet when he is confused or uncomfortable, he is able to look to me for support. This just goes to show the importance of developing a solid master apprentice relationship, where the child learns from the parent and is given support when uncertain. If things are moving too quickly for your child, s/he will be unable to learn from other’s experience, robbing him/her of the opportunity to grow. If you notice that your child is missing some of the above milestones, it may be because s/he is unable to learn in fast moving, dynamic settings. CORE Approach has many strategies to help children with autism or other developmental disabilities learn the same way children have always learned – through and with a trusted guide. It’s worked all over the world since the beginning of time; and it can work for your child, too!