Babies develop at different rates. Everyone knows this. Yet at the doctors office, at the well-child checks they still go through a check-list to see whether your child is developing "normally." I didn't know it at the time, but the doctors are checking for "red-flags" for autism or developmental delays. Evidently, babies "could" be clapping at 7 months. They "will probably" be clapping at 8 months. They "should be" clapping at 9 months. And they are "supposed to be clapping by 11-12 months. This was one of the BIG milestones my son missed. Among others. He also didn't point, or wave, or say Mama or Dada or respond to his name.
I vividly remember the day my son clapped for the very first time. He was 2 years old. I'd been working with him for months. Every time he did something, like give me eye contact, I'd clap for him. Then I'd take his hands in mine and make him clap as well. Well, one day when we were at the park, Derek was going down the slide with me. I encouraged him to go down by himself. When he finally did it, I yelled, "YAY, DEREK!!! You did it!!!" And I started clapping. He looked up at me with a big smile and STARTED CLAPPING. I freaked out. It was a miracle. I knew in that very moment that I could still reach my son. I knew that he was not lost forever. Sure, it had taken him an extra year, but from that moment on the baby books didn't matter. They went in the trash that very night. I let my son be on his OWN timetable. I knew that if I was patient enough and worked hard, I would see my son reach every single milestone...and I consider myself lucky. I've seen more miracles in my lifetime than I can count.