Big A At Three: Schedules and Milestones

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It’s Big A’s birthday month!

Big A has grown sooo much this year. He’s more engaging and connected to those around him. His therapists call it “hatching.” Big A’s communication skills have improved in leaps and bounds. He seems to understand everything we say, though that doesn’t mean he always listens. Even his defiance can be a relief, as it’s so damn normal. Big A follows instructions, is kind to his brother, and loves going out into the community.

Though Big A interacts with typical developmental milestones differently due to his autism diagnosis, he continues to check off his goals. Big A is as thorough and sweet and conscientious and funny and analytic and oh so watchful as always. Read on to get a peek at his typical daily schedule and the milestones we’ve been working on.

Ish Mom and Big A
I’m shocked by how far Big A has come this year.


These are approximate times, as Big A isn’t the most reliable of schedule keepers. It isn’t so much that we do everything at the same time every day, but more that we follow the same order and flow of activities.

  • 6 am: Wake up
  • 6:30 am: Breakfast
  • 7-8 am: Play, potty time, get ready
  • 8:30 am: School!
  • 11:30-1 pm: Lunch, potty time, cleanup, story
  • 1-3 pm: Nap
  • 3:30 pm: Snack time!
  • 4:00-6:00 pm: Play time! We try to wear them out before dinner—lots of wrestling and jumping. Josh and I will do a 15-minute HIIT workout to get the boys jumping with us.
  • 6:30 pm: Dinner
  • 7:15 pm: Bath, potty time, cleanup, get ready, story
  • 8:00 pm: Bedtime

Big A at 3 schedules and milestones pinterest graphic


*Most* 3-year-olds have reached these milestones. However, I’m no doctor. If you have any concerns, see your pediatrician. If your pediatrician takes a “wait and see” attitude, kindly and fiercely persist.

Gross Motor

  • Walk up and down stairs, alternating feet
  • Kick and throw a small ball
  • Catch a big ball
  • Climb well
  • Run with confidence
  • Ride a tricycle fairly well
  • Hop and stand on one foot for up to 5 seconds
  • Walk forward and backward with confidence
  • Bend over without falling
  • Help put on and remove clothing

Big A can more or less do all of these. He doesn’t use alternating feet going up and down the stairs, yet, but he tries. And he doesn’t have much interest in tricycles, weirdly.

I continue to encourage growth motor development by providing lots of opportunity for play. Josh and Big A and I play ball a lot, with one of the adults holding Big A’s hands, helping him throw and catch. Everything else is pretty golden.

Fine Motor

  • Turn book pages one at a time
  • Easily handle small objects
  • Copy circles and squares
  • Use age appropriate scissors
  • Build a tower 4-6 blocks high
  • Draw a person with 2-4 body parts
  • Copy some capital letters
  • Screw and unscrew jar lids
  • Turn rotating handles

Big A has made much progress in fine motor development. Before, he wasn’t  interested in drawing, painting, etc. With a bit of persistence (Josh and I just kept putting art supplies in front of him), Big A has been copying lines, crosses, circles, and even capital “A’s.” Cutting, ripping, and gluing paper helps Big A with fine motor skills as well.

I’ll keep introducing harder puzzles, take-apart toys, and art projects in the hopes that Big A’s fine motor skills improve as he ages.

Big A and Little A making homemade salt dough
The A Team took turns stirring home made salt dough-heeeyyyy cooperative play.


  • Imitate parents and friends
  • Show affection for family members and familiar friends
  • Separate easily from caregivers
  • Show concern for crying friend/family member
  • Understand the ideas of “mine” and “his/hers”
  • Shows a wide array of emotions
  • Take turns in games
  • Find simple ways to solve arguments/disagreements

Does screaming count as a simple way to solve an argument/disagreement? How about emphatic grunting? No?

Big A does do most of this, in his way. He may need to be coached to take turns and his affection/concern may look a bit different; but Big A does take turns and give hugs. And he definitely understands the concept of “mine.”

Guiding Big A through his social/emotional development is a constant thing. I’m forever asking for and praising eye contact, identifying emotions, and encouraging cooperative play. This will probably always be a constant thing.


  • Answer simple questions
  • Say name, age, and sex
  • Speak 250-500 words
  • Speak 4-6 word sentences
  • Follow instructions with 2-3 steps
  • Says “I,” “we,” and some plurals
  • Ask “wh” questions, i.e., why, when, what, etc
  • Can speak so clearly that strangers can understand child
  • Name familiar things
  • Tells stories

Well, just a big nope to all of this.

Language/communication development remains Big A’s biggest hurdle. He’s nonverbal, first of all, so he’s not telling anything, let alone stories.

However, Big A’s receptive communication is great. He follows instructions, spoken or signed. Hopefully Big A will speak at some point. I try not to have any expectations about that. I don’t mean that in a negative or hopeless way. We’re pleased with how far Big A has come making his needs and emotions known. He’ll continue speech therapy. Josh and I will continue to do hand-over-hand signing/pointing, encourage imitation, etc.

teaching a nonverbal autistic toddler boy to point
Even Little A cheered when Big A started pointing at pictures in books this summer


  • Understand ideas of “same” and “different”
  • Remember parts of stories
  • Correctly names familiar colors
  • Count from 1-10
  • Pretend more creatively
  • Complete simple, age-appropriate puzzles
  • Work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
  • Start comparing sizes
  • Better understands time like “morning,” “night,” “after school”
  • Sort objects by shape and color
  • Recognize/identify common objects and pictures

It’s hard to understand what Big A knows and doesn’t know when he can’t verbally tell you, but it’s not impossible.

We’re all pretty sure that Big A knows the primary colors and shapes (circle, square, triangle). He sorts things and will get mad when a blue block is tossed in with the red ones. Big A is showing interest in pretend play (hold a toy phone to his ear, bite play food and smile) and puzzles. If I tell him we’ll be doing something “after nap” or “tomorrow,” he seems to understand (he doesn’t scream, anyway). I’ve heard him making intonations of counting, and he knows that something cool happens (push a car, throw him in the air, etc) after “1,2,3!”

Until Big A talks we’ll just have to work a little harder to figure out what he knows. But he’s no dummy.

Not To Be A Debbie Downer Or Anything

If any part of this article makes you feel anxious, bring up your concerns to your pediatrician. Everything will be OK.

Ish Mom and Big A and Little A

Got any tips to survive the threenager years? Let me know in the comments below. If you found this article helpful, share it. Thank you!

Happy toddlering!


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Big A at three schedule and milestones pinterest graphic



Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.
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