Communication Delays Spur Problem Behaviors
Communication delays occur when a child doesn’t meet key milestones that would reflect typical speech development.
For example, by 8 months, a child should be responding to their name and recognizing themselves in a mirror. By 12 months, they should be saying a couple of words, recognizing familiar sounds and pointing to objects. By 18 months, they should have 10-to-20 words and start to combine two word phrases (i.e., “all gone,” “bye-bye, momma,” etc.). (All this is established by researchers at The University of Michigan, and these milestones are pretty standard and widely accepted.)
If your child isn’t meeting these milestones, our pediatric speech therapists would encourage you to raise the concern with your pediatrician or seek a free consultation from one of our therapists to determine if intervention may be necessary. The effect of a communication delay goes far beyond just not being able to say words. Too often, communication delays spur behavior problems.
Really if you think about it, behavior IS communication – perhaps the most basic form of it. Tempers, tears, tantrums – even if it seems nonsensical to adults – these are ways children communicate their needs to adults. As they grow older and their communication skills expand, they no longer need to resort to those behaviors to ensure their needs are met. They can point to objects. They can request things. They can say no. They can understand there are times they must wait (even if they don’t like it). Children with communication delays – those who are impaired in their ability to communicate with others and to understand when people are communicating with them – are going to lag in developing those same coping mechanisms, and that means the behavior problems will continue. Speech therapy and ABA (applied behavioral analysis) can help them catch up.
At FOCUS in Fort Myers, we recognize that every child grows at his or her own pace. A wide range of skill development is normal. However, when your child is consistently behind his or her peers when it comes to communication, it can start to have a domino effect on other areas of development. That’s probably why a communication delay is the No. 1 reason parents of toddlers seek therapy for their kids.
How Serious Are Communication Delays?
A lot of communications delays aren’t serious. Some kids will catch up on their own. Some may benefit from the intervention of therapy for a couple of days a week for a few months to get them on track. Others may need a more intensive schedule for a longer term. What we can say for sure is that allowing the problem to go unaddressed can result in a snowballing of other issues, such as behavior.
One of the benefits of the Southwest Florida speech therapy services at FOCUS is that we have therapists working here from all disciplines – not just speech, but occupational, behavior and physical. We look at the child not just as a mouth or a set of behaviors, but as a whole child. Our team works together to determine a customized therapy plan that will target as many of the ongoing issues as possible – as early as we can – so that we can have the greatest impact.
If you notice your child is having a difficult time communicating for his or her age – especially if that is accompanied by persistent problem behaviors – scheduling a speech and language consultation will give you an unbiased, third-party perspective.
FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Speech and Language Development, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Michigan Medicine
More Blog Entries:
Interconnected Speech, Behavior, Physical and Occupational Therapy Leads to Best Outcomes, Feb. 22, 2018, Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog