Like most people nowadays, I grew with my son, and wasn’t exposed to a lot of other children, so my ideas of appropriate-for-age were all wonky.
For example, all three-year-olds can say ‘pachycephalosaurus’, right? And at five they’re working hard to learn Latin so they can understand their beloved dinosaurs all the better, right?
It’s easy in the Asperger world to lose our sense of age-appropriate. Our children may be years ahead on the intellectual level, and yet years behind in other skills. Which, by the way, is a schoolteacher’s nightmare, but that’s another story. They dash ahead with their yearning for knowledge and seemingly endless capacity for everything concerning their Topic or subject of interest.
This may not describe everyone out there, but the overall concept is the same… different levels for different folks.
So how do we decode “age-appropriate”? How does one see “Good for ages 4-7” and know whether to guiltily pass it by or guiltily purchase it for your ten-year-old?
Yes, I know I said “guiltily” twice.
This is what those tags do to me. I won’t speak for you, although I tend to imagine many other parents feel guilt, as well. So while I feel like the Guilt Queen, I won’t take the title… yet.
Occupational therapy taught me to ignore age tags. It was wonderful.
Since our kids tend to be behind on the balance and fine motor skills, they need the practice that a lot of manipulative games out there can give them. Games that are aimed at a younger child. For example, Don’t Break The Ice and balancing games featuring penguins, farm animals, and/or whatever cute animal is current.
Since our kids are extremists – haha, take that, game industries! – they also need intellectual stimulation far beyond their years.
And I’ll do it. I’ll purchase that item/book/game that purports to be for teenagers.
And our son will delight in them all.
The only danger area for us was with bright colors. Our wonderful boy loves them, and for years was drawn to the baby area like a moth to the flame. However, I haven’t seen many kids like this, and it was fairly easy to take care of… we just tempted him with Lego/Star Wars toys or didn’t go to the bright blue-yellow-red section in the first place.
He’s now over this, as he has a baby cousin and gets his fill of baby toys.
Back to age appropriate…
So we’ve learned, over the years, to take those age labels with a grain of salt. To completely ignore them in some cases – many cases – and just focus on our boy, and his needs.
That’s what it’s really all about, anyway.