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May 04, 2017

A Lesson in Following the Child -- Montessori Baby Week 22

Even if you don't know a ton about Montessori, many people understand that Montessori places the child at the center of everything we do. We "follow the child," then we follow some more. We trust, we sit back, we believe. We know that a child will become who he or she is supposed to when set free in a prepared environment. 

A lesson in following the child -- Montessori parenting with a child that is showing delay.

This can be a tall order when your child is struggling in some area. When your child is falling behind. Or if your child is just on a different track. It requires us to really focus on our child, not the children around our child, and know that it is still important to follow the child. And, to be honest, it is challenging! We want to do everything we can to support our children, and sometimes to just sit and trust that everything will be how it is supposed to be is hard work. 

I mention this because it has become increasingly obvious that Augustus isn't developing at a typical rate. I have mentioned before that he was diagnosed with torticollis -- which affected his ability to look both ways. This has led to a plagiocephaly (a flat spot on his head) which is severe enough that he will be getting a helmet in just a few days. This all has been coupled with low muscle tone and an overall lack of strength means that we are seeing gross motor delays. He is in physical therapy to try and stretch his muscles and build his strength. 

But, beyond this, Gus has visual tracking and scanning issues. He has a hard time finding the source for sounds around the room, and scanning new images. Doctors are calling it "slow visual development" until he's a bit older. If the issues still don't resolve themselves, he may be looking at a visual delay and more therapy. His hand strength and grip are extremely immature. All of this together means he is no longer meeting minimum cognitive standards for his age. 

Many of these issues may resolve themselves over time, or they may not. He could be looking at long term cognitive delays, or he may make leaps and catch up. Right now, he is developing completely normally, as in he is taking all of the normal steps, but just doing it much, much slower than a typical baby. 

But, even with all of this, we will follow the child! We will walk Gus' path with him, knowing that he will get to the place where he is meant to be. We know that it may not be the same path as your child, or our other children, but it will be his path. The perfect path for him. 

This has been a long way of saying that, his delays don't have to mean that Montessori or natural gross motor development go out the window. But instead they are the framework in which we will guide him to his full potential, however that will look for him! 

A lesson in following the child -- Montessori parenting with a child that is showing delay.

In the words of Maria Montessori, “Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting on one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”  And, oh Gus, we will follow!


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Katrin said…
Dear Nicole,
I'm sorry to hear that Gus has difficulties. I began researching Montessori (and stumbled over your blog in the process) because my son (now 20 months old) was born with a rare genetic condition and has "developemental delays" in several areas. For me it was (and still is) really though to see his peers develop in a much faster rate - but the Montessori philosophy really helped me to follow his pace. With success: after months of stagnation, he now crawls and pulls to standing (which he never did before) all at once!
I would love to hear your thoughts about how reconcile the Montessori way with therapy - for me it is one of the hardest things to do to make him do something in therapy he absolutely doesn't want to.
All the best to Gus, you and your family! Keep up hope!
* said…
I'm so sorry to hear about the delays and I know how tough it can be as a parent when things are a little different than "average". One issue that we found has been linked to torticollus is a tongue tie. Have you looked into it? Many health care providers do not know how to diagnose a tongue tie and may even deny the impact that it can have, but it was a major factor in my son's development and ability to eat, settle, and sleep. Many kids with ties also find riding in car seats uncomfortable, dislike tummy time, etc. After months of issues, I looked into the symptoms of a tie and they matched what we were experiencing. I thought I'd suggest it in case it's helpful for you as you're looking at options for your son. Best of luck!
Jeanne-Marie Paynel
Gus is lucky to have you as his guide. Not sure if you saw this interview series "More than Milestones" It addresses exactly what you are talking about you might find some valuable information. With loving support.
Kristin said…
I love following along with Gus! My son had very severe torticollis to the point his pediatrician decided physical therapy was ineffectual and he needed some bodywork. He started seeing a craniosacral specialist at 3 months and by 1 year we just go in for check ups. She's one of his favorite people and we saw immediate improvement after one visit, and I'm amazed that you could barely tell he had had torticollis after two weeks. We're in Seattle and it took a very long wait time, plus I was very apprehensive about doing craniosacral therapy, but I'm so glad that we did it. Torticollis can affect vision (more than just not being able to track because of restricted movement). He was always a bit behind on gross motor, but made milestones eventually. We're at the point now (20 months) that he doesn't need anymore PT or craniosacral therapy, thankfully.
Elizabeth said…
Developmental delays are tough! My kids are exactly 3 years apart and it was so hard not to check back to see what my oldest was doing at the same age. My son also has low muscle tone and has been in PT for over a year. We started at 6 months when he wasn't sitting up in his own. Around 18 months he just suddenly developed by leaps and bounds! He's still behind (22m and not walking yet) but is steadily improving. I love reading your blog and your updates about Augustus. I didn't do Montessori with my son because I thought with his delays it wouldn't push him enough. I'm so glad to see how it's working for you! Makes me want to go back and start over with my son but tomorrow is a new day. Thanks for always being so positive and encouraging about the wonders of a Montessori child!
My daughter also had visual delays & sensory processing issues. Hers were a result of vaccine injury, a controversial a subject yes but a valid consideration. It turns out she has a genetic mutation called MTHFR which inhibits methylation.. use of Tylenol around vaccination plus recent antibiotics prescribed for an ear infection resulted in more profound injury than she might have experienced otherwise. I wish you the best on your journey with Gus. As a fellow Montessori teacher with a 5 month old infant (born quite close to Gus I think) it has been inspiring to follow your journey. Heather
Every Star Is Different
This brought me to tears. Oh how I have been where you have been so many times before. I applaud your courage and strength and your willingness to follow the child. <3 Many virtual hugs are being sent your way!