Special needs

When your child meets unexpected milestones

Syona recently started asking "why?" and Anchel explains why this milestone question has brought her so much joy.

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Syona. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Last week, we loaned our van to Dilip’s brother and his family because they needed the extra seating. Syona’s becoming increasingly inquisitive and when I explained that we’d be using her uncle’s car for the week the conversation went something like this:

“Why they take my van, mommy?”

“Good question! The van has extra seats and they wanted to travel together.”

“Van broken?”

“No, Syona, the van is not broken they just need to borrow it.”

Sounds like a pretty common exchange. But for our family this was a huge moment. It was the first time Syona asked us “why?”

When you have a child with special needs, milestones take on a whole new meaning. I stopped looking at standard milestone lists when Syona was about seven months old because they just weren’t that important to us—we already knew that she had some delays, which later resulted in her cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Instead, we celebrate our own milestones, on Syona’s schedule—and that is more than fine with us.

Read more: Special-needs parenting: Milestones vs. inchstones>

This means I generally don’t know what to expect next. And the beginning of asking “why” was a huge surprise.

The question “why?” is particularly important for cognitive development as it helps Syona learn that the world is not random—that there are reasons behind the things that happen. It also enables her to discover those reasons.

Syona has always been inquisitive in her own ways, but since she’s been better settled at school over the past month we’re starting to see and hear more complex things from her at home. She likes to rhyme words, say opposites and, in the past week, ask “why?” a handful of times about certain things. Her teacher does a fantastic job at encouraging the kids in Syona’s class to explore answers together and individually. They work a lot on reasoning and working through answers.

With this type of positive influence and the strong connections she is making with her classmates, we’ve seen her blossom, just like we did last year when we found a nursery school that was a good fit.

Read more: Finding the right nursery school is imperative for kids with special needs>

Those who know me will get a good laugh, as I’m notorious for repeatedly asking “why” until I fully understand. Now that the “why’s” have started from Syona, I know they won’t stop. (And I’m sure I will throw a few of my own “why” questions back at her and learn to be more patient!)

As she develops these more complex thoughts I know that more complex questions will come up, including questions that seemed intimidating to me before. But I’ve also learned that as she asks these questions she’s also learning to listen to and explore appropriate answers.

I’m looking forward to discovering what Syona surprises us with next.

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.