Milestones & Special Needs

One Mom’s advice about learning to let your special needs child grow into the perfect person they were meant to become. 

As the mom of a special needs child, you may feel self-conscious when your child does not meet the same milestones that other children do. You often hear other parents brag about first words, steps, and dry nights. However, as a fellow mother of a special needs child, I am here to tell you to stop. 



My daughter is four and has Down syndrome. She has not hit the same milestones as other children. She walked nearly a year after typical peers, and at four, her vocabulary is smaller. None of that matters. What I have learned as her mom is that she is going to be the person she is meant to be. I have never once attended an interview that asked at what age I learned to walk, talk, potty, or anything else. I have been asked about my hobbies, wants needs, and qualifications. As the mother of a child whose timeline may differ from others, I need to embrace my special needs child and realize that milestones are irrelevant. 

I have never once attended an interview that asked at what age I learned to walk, talk, potty, or anything else.

Words of advice on milestones for special needs children from a down syndrome mom

There is no right or wrong way to parent your child as long as love and well-being are at the forefront, so potty training is a moot point. If you have a child with intellectual disabilities, you may have to alter your expectations. We walk into special needs parenting, not knowing what to expect, and only finding most resources are designed for our typically developing peers. We do not know where to turn to make sure that our children meet the goals that we set for them. 

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

burn this quote into your brain!

You will be asked no less than 4985 times in special education meetings what your goals are for your child. You will be dumbfounded. Ultimately, your goal is for your child to live the best life possible. You may be familiar with the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you are not, burn this quote into your brain. If you are familiar, take it to heart. You cannot spend the first eighteen years of your child’s life sucking the joy out of your day. Do not compare them to other kids with their same conditions, typical kids, or a kid you read about on the news. This child is your child. He or she will surprise you in more ways than you can imagine, and you will hurt with them in just as many ways. 

let your special needs child do things for him/herself

One thing I have learned as a special education educator and a mom on the other side of the fence is this, children need love, support, and role models. Let them see typical kids and interact with them. They need to try to do the same things that their peers do but do not make that the only goal that they have. Let your child teach you about who they are and what they want. My daughter wants to learn and do things for herself. I see it in the fiery way that she tells me no when I try to help. I see it in the concentration that she has when trying to do things for herself. Nurture those feelings and let your child grow into the perfect person they were meant to become.