Tadpoles and timelines

I learn much about our autism journey from watching nature. I marvel how it seems perfectly rhythmic, but then is prone to idiosyncrasies once you look closely.

Out of this harmony, we unceremoniously plucked some tadpoles. Back in September it was hot. One of those final dog days of summer, we found a puddle full of tadpoles. So we caught about a dozen “baby speckled frogs” and put them in our frog habitat. 

And there they remain, unchanged a full eight and a half months later. I could have borne a human child in the time our tadpoles have lived on our kitchen counter. When I got them I expected our speckled frog days to be short lived.  I didn’t know for sure how long could it take for tadpoles to become frogs. Maybe a few weeks? Then we had a cold snap, followed by the changing of seasons and their development stopped. Google tells me that they should become froglets in 6 to 12 weeks, yet here we are mid month eight with no signs of change.

LittleOne checking out a toad

This isn’t the first time I’ve searched timelines and milestones only to realize our story didn’t match up with the norm. Yes at first, LittleOne hit them all. We were blissfully normal. Then there was a change and his development stopped. Now we nudge it along with OT, PT, speech and tutoring, hitting milestones at our own irregular pace. 

Now it is late May and my tadpoles remain in their legless form. Yet, summer is on the horizon.  The sun is present longer, and the temperatures are warmer. New tadpoles have showed up in our ponds and streams. The environment is now once again right for tadpoles to become frogs, and eventually our tadpoles too will grow into hopping frogs and be on their way. They will not stay swimmers forever.

This is how autism is.

Know this new-to-autism moms, your child to will continue to grow and develop when the conditions are right. One day the conditions will be met and the next milestone will be passed. Just as with my tadpoles, our kids too will grow and develop, but it won’t be according to the standard timeline. When the environment is right and he is ready my LittleOne will move to his next phase, as will yours.

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