From birth a baby will develop every single day. They will learn about teething, sleep patterns, facial expressions, love, feeding, and as they grow they will learn about shapes, balancing, numbers, walking, running, catching a ball, discipline and boundaries.
But what if a child misses a developmental milestone. You can just teach them a few years later right? .. wrong! (We are talking missing a lot in the form of neglect). Have you taken on a child? What has your experiences been?
When we took on a little girl we could see how much she had missed. She came to us at 5 years old. Just a few weeks before she was 6. But she hadn’t been with her birth parents for a year and one month. Between this time she had been in specialist foster care, albeit quite a few placements before she came to us. Can you picture a 6 year old and the general ability of what they know and do and understand? You can clearly see how development was missed, so here is a list of just some attributes she either lacked or had:
1.) She could not climb into my car.
2.) She could not make her way up the steps in the park by herself to go down the slide. There was no core strength at all.
3.) Her speech and language was that of a 2 year old
4.) Her ability to communicate and understand conversation was also extremely young
5.) She does not understand when she is hungry or when she is full up. Therefore she assumes she is always hungry.
6.) She is addicted to stodgy food. Anything that would be heavy on her stomach, potatoes, beans, bread, pasta and also sweet things, especially chocolate, but would not touch vegetables.
7.) Chewing is a chore. If it is hard or chewy she is not interested unless it is sweet, and even then sometimes not.
8.) Eats with mouth open constantly
9.) Runs the same speed as you walk and swings arms side to side whilst straight.
10.) Cannot skip or hop
11.) Constantly leaks. Her toilet training is good but she constantly leaks
12.) Has huge hygiene issues across the board. Does not flush toilet or wash hands, will sneeze and not even consider covering mouth or wiping nose, will cough in your face or food without a thought, would have an accident and say nothing, would be filthy and still remain unbothered etc
13.) Instead of asking for help, she will stand and cry or say something nasty.
14.) Is very very lazy and wants to do nothing for herself
15.) Will not share anything that belongs to her and would become aggressive if someone wanted to share
16.) Will expect you to share something she wants and will tell you how rude and selfish you are if you don’t
17.) Will not help someone right in front of her even if they ask but will scream and shout at you if she needed help, there will be no asking, but she will expect help immediately.
18.) Demands a massive amount of adult attention
19.) Will not complete homework or take at least 3 hours to do so because she doesn’t know how to think for herself and would also seek great comfort in an adult sitting there with her on a 1-1 basis
20.) Will lay awake at night for quite some time before falling asleep but requires a lot more sleep than normal
21.) Does not know how to engage in imaginative play
22.) Will answer ‘I don’t know’ or mostly just shrugs shoulders when asked a question.
23.) Gets emotions completely mixed up: love and hate, happiness and anger etc
24.) Will tell any adult she loves them even if she just met them
25.) Has no self awareness
26.) Has no sense of danger when it comes to strangers, but would not climb something high
27.) Lacks coordination and balance
28.) Takes no pride in work
29.) Will still colour across a whole page and not inside the lines
30.) Remembers a weekly calendar in her head, but if something is different this week, it throws her off course but then she would expect that same thing to happen next week now
31.) Will cope if everything is black and white but struggle if there is movement
32.) When angry will do the opposite of whatever you say, even if you asked her to do something nice
33.) Drinks a lot of water or will ask for water just to get attention or to get you to do something for her
34.) Will exaggerate on the smallest of cuts or bruises if she falls over, will expect school to provide ice packs etc
35.) Will go into a park and go straight for the smallest set of apparatus and befriend children between the ages of 2-4
36.) Will often shout when talking, either when happy or angry
37.) Hates water when in bath but likes bath times
38.) Is very good at reading because she has learnt rules of sounds but does not have the comprehension of what she has read.
39.) Will often be deliberately nasty or ignore siblings (new siblings) (we assume this is because they also take up adults attention so she feels threatened)
40.) Will only ever do as she is told or be nice if there is a benefit to her, for example dinner is being served, she hasn’t had breakfast yet, pudding is coming, we are going to the park. If nothing is coming, she will not do as she is told nor be nice to siblings.
There are lots more to add to this list, but these behaviours have developed due to several issues:
1.) Lack of attention
2.) Feeling unloved
3.) Lack of routine and consistency
4.) Not being listened to unless she screams or hits
5.) May have skipped meals
6.) Was never socialised
7.) Different sleep patterns
8.) May never have learnt the art of sharing
9.) Not bonding with birth parents in her first 4 vital years
10.) Was never taught to clean, tidy or help
11.) Would rarely or never receive something that was hers without it being taken away so becomes protective over own equipment
12.) Learning behaviours such as parents screaming at each other, being aggressive and spitting
Missing milestones even down to love is so detrimental. Of course, these or some of these will improve, or may be completely fixed but some will remain. They become the ‘go to’ behaviour when she is in survival instinct which is quite a lot of the time. Teaching her to settle and feel rewarded if she is nice is a long road, but for now we have improved on tantrums, a massive improvement on food, core strength and balance is 100 times better but we still have a lot to work on.