Too often we assign deadlines to developmental milestones, and when an autistic child fails to meet one, we fret and worry about their future. My own family was certainly not immune to this. I can tell you that Caley didn't start reading "on time", and I remember my mom and dad talking about it in hushed, worried voices.
At the time I was only an elementary schooler myself and I reassured them confidently, "Don't worry! Caley's just like me - I didn't read well at first, either, but the summer of third grade I bloomed." Lo and behold, at about that same timeline, Caley started reading. (The impetus, if you're interested in knowing, was discovering her first Harry Potter book - Caley says it's the first time she learned that reading could actually be interesting!) When she started I remember gleefully telling them, "See! I told you so!"
Why did I correctly predict that while my parents didn't? You could chalk it up to luck, but I think there was more to it than that, because that is one example of a long string of similar incidents. I think the key lies in the fact that I was blessedly ignorant of all these "deadlines" and negative narratives about autism because without them to cloud my vision, I could often see Caley's actual capabilities better than others.
Artificial deadlines are just that, artificial. Kids on the spectrum, and for that matter, all kids, are all on their own schedules, and just because they don't start doing something "on time" doesn't mean they never will. As Jess over at Diary of a Mom said today, "There are no deadlines on progress." And that's just so, so true.
The article that inspired this: http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/rethinking-functional-behavior-and-the-tyrrany-of-made-up-deadlines/