What Is A Normal 3 Year Old?


Our little boy turns 3 in a week. He is one of the youngest in his preschool class (cutoff is 9/1 and his birthday is 8/25) and some classmates have been 3 since last fall. I feel that he is sometimes compared to those kids because they are in the same class. He is a very energetic boy with an incredibly short attention span. His school works with children of all ability levels and economic backgrounds. Speech therapists, occupational therapists, and other outside folks are frequently in the school working with kids so the school staff is very attuned to early-intervention and “needs” of kids. Our son was recommended, by administrators, to be evaluated by a speech therapist because he was not communicating effectively with his peers when playing with play-doh, etc….Very minor things.

He was evaluated and was in the “normal” range but the speech therapist thought she could help him with some additional things so we obliged even though I did not think it was completely necessary. He has been crushing the goals she had for him during our private sessions. Last week, she visited him on the playground to observe him in a social setting and said to me “He does not take the principles that he has learned in speech therapy (one-on-one) and apply them to his social situations on the playground.” She only observed him for less than an hour one time on the playground and has not been with him in the school setting for any length of time. She mentioned at our last session with her that she thought he might benefit from Occupational Therapy because he is easily distracted and doesn’t seem to be applying what he’s learned about communicating to his friends on the playground, that he needs more help putting it all together in his mind. She thinks he might have some sensory issues but he never complains about the way things feel, textures or tags in clothing or anything. Loud noises do not bother him at all. He does have some quirks-sometimes walks on his tiptoes and drools (which his primary doctor and Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor are NOT worried about, I have asked them both several times). He seems to me like a normal 3 year old boy. At what point are we scrutinizing children and looking for things to be “wrong” with them? His ENT said to us “When you’re a hammer, all the world is a nail” when we asked about the intervention by speech therapist. I certainly do not want to be the parent that ignores the school/experts or thinks their child is perfect (he is FAR from it). We want to get him every bit of help he needs IF it is necessary. It is very easy to second guess yourself and travel down a rabbit hole of specialists, therapists, etc. I think they are looking for things to “fix” and intervene early but at what point is a little boy just a wild boy and at what point does a child need an Occupational Therapist? Do you feel that some specialists are too eager to “fix” things in kids that would otherwise work themselves out?

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