Answered: February 26, 2015 by Dr. Sidney Baker
Human development flows in stages that last for months in the young and settles down to seven-year cycles as we age. In the early years there are windows of time for developing certain skills, such as language, so that learning to speak a second language without an accent hits a cutoff in adolescence. What can we think when an experienced professional declares that it is too late for an individual to achieve a certain skill or to become normal? On the one hand we must be grateful if it relieves us - or the individual we love - of false hope. On the other hand it may be said that hope is never false.
Hope and the will it fosters is the basis of every step we take. If that is true then your question may be altered to ask what step can be taken to measure the potential of your 25 year old. The answer is to start with his or her strengths. A focus on all the ways in which he or she is disabled is inevitable. A focus finding and naming and leveraging a person’s strengths is, however, the key to opening your – and his or her – mind to the possibility of healing. Finding the key may depend on subtle hints having to do with music, memory, math, art, and movement that can remain hidden in a person with preoccupying difficulties.
I have in mind the son of one of the great personalities in autism research in the 20th Century. He artistic talent was “discovered” when he was nearly an adult. The first step was simply the fresh eye of someone who saw him in a new light. Then the tools and encouragement enabling him to complete the discovery in his success as an artist opened the door to normal. We have to keep in mind that Nature’s most basic rule is the individuality of each living thing. We can then define normal in terms of fulfillment of our unique capacities – something that this man has beautifully achieved