How would you decide whether your child’s language development is on track? As communication is the basis of success in life and at work, emphasis should be given early on to assess the level of your child’s control over his or her strength in managing language. This is especially true for special needs children who have either autism, asperger syndrome, learning disabilities, ADHD and down syndrome. Many may also have learning problems and intelligence that is below average.
Children with Asperger syndrome have milder symptoms affecting social interaction and behavior. Their language development is usually alright but, they can have problems certain aspects of language, for example, understanding humor. Their intelligence is usually above-average. Some are skillful in memory, logic and creativity, example in music, art, and pure sciences. For children with learning disabilities and ADHD (sometimes these two conditions can occur together) paying attention and staying focused is a problem. Those who are hyperactive will have trouble staying still and can turn classrooms into chaos. Dyslexic children are those who could not read very well, could not construct sentences and have trouble with writing letters backwards. With down syndrome children, you are looking at different level of mental retardation, though some of them can speak quite well. Intelligence will unfortunately affect the way a person picks up language and learn new things. So overall we are looking at early detection and then intervention for children at a young age. Detecting problems early on have been proven to be an effective way to manage and control language and other difficulties.
If you are unsure of your child’s language development, these red flags may helped put things in perspective. You can use the report presented below as a guideline, but for better understanding your child’s needs, it is better to consult a professional.
1). By 12 months your child does not babble; does not use gestures like waving “bye bye” or shaking head for “no”; does not respond to her name; does not communicate in some way when she needs help.
2). By 15 months your child does not understand and respond to words like “no” and “up”; says no words; does not point to objects or pictures when ask: “Where is the… ?”; does not point to things of interest as if to say: “Look at that!” and then look at you.
3). By 18 months your child does not understand simple commands like “Don’t touch”; is not using at least 20 single words like “Mummy” or “up”; does not respond with a word or gesture to a question such as “Where’s your shoe?”; cannot point to two or three major body parts such as head, nose, eyes, feet.
4). By 24 months your child says fewer than 100 words; is not consistently joining two words together like “Daddy go” or “no “shoes”; does not imitate actions or words; does not pretend with toys, such as feeding a doll.
5). By 30 months your child says fewer than 300 words; is not using action words like “run”, “eat”; is not using some adult grammar, like “two babies” and “doggie sleeping”.
6). By three years your child does not ask questions; is not using sentences (e.g. “I don’t want that” or “my truck is broken”).
7). By five years your child is not able to tell a simple story.
If you are concerned about your child’s language development, one of the things you can do is to consult a speech language pathologist (SLP). It is discovered that, from data taken from the United States has pointed to about 5 – 8% of preschool children experiencing language delays which continue into adulthood. So it is best to get an earlier diagnosis and a program in place to help train and guide your child as soon as possible.