We are delighted to have Leslie Lindsay, author of Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, as a guest blogger. She has graciously given us a copy of her book to give away to one of you! Please be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!
Mother Knows Best…
By Leslie Lindsay
Your Mother Says: “Einstein was a late-talker.”
You can respond: “That may be true, but he was also a mathematical genius.”
Einstein began talking at age three but he was still not fluent when he turned nine. Research on Einstein's brain suggested to some neuroscientists that he was a late-talker because of the unusual development of his brain, as revealed by an autopsy. No one knows if this is the reason why Einstein took so long to develop the ability to speak, much less whether this is true of the other people of outstanding intellect who were also late in beginning to speak. (See “The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late” by Thomas Sowell)
Your Mother Says: “Some very bright children won’t talk because they are bored with ‘baby talk.’”
You Can Respond: “I believe that all children will respond in developmentally appropriate ways when an engaging caregiver works with them, baby-talk or not.
Motherese is a very effective form of communication for babies and toddlers. They like—prefer even—the high-pitched sing-song-y melody of this communication style. It is engaging, silly, and comforting.
(See also Fernald, A. “Four-Month-Old Infants Prefer to Listen to Motherese.” INFANT BEHAVIOR AND DEVELOPMENT 8, 181-195 (1985).
Your Mother Says: “You (or big sister/brother) do all of the talking for him.”
You Can Respond: “I don’t believe that’s the case. We really make an effort to share our thoughts and ideas with the family, including requesting items like snacks and toys.”
Sure, it may be true that your child has older sibs who seem to ‘get’ them best, but ultimately your child is in charge of her own communication, not her siblings.
Your Mother Says: “He has all of his needs met and doesn’t ‘need’ to communicate.”
You Can Respond: “I can see where you are coming from. But, really we try to give our child choices and not just ‘do’ for him. Even when choices are presented: ‘do you want juice or milk?’ he just grunts.”
Communication is not just a means to get needs met. Humans are social creatures. We want to speak. We want to share our ideas, thoughts, feelings, and more. It’s not just about basic needs.
Your Mother Says: “He’ll talk when something really interests him, or he really wants something. Maybe he’s just shy?”
You Can Respond: “Maybe. But for now it’s frustrating to hear her cry, whine and carry on. I think something else is going on. And it’s not shyness. Being shy is completely different from not talking.”
Sure, we talk about things that we are passionate about or know something about. But aren’t all children passionate and curious about the world around them? Being shy is simply being more reserved; a personality trait if you will—yet these children have the ability to speak—and they do, but maybe just not as often as others. Children with speech delays or disorders simply can’t speak at developmentally-appropriate levels.
[“Your Mother Says” and “How You Can Respond” are not meant to replace or represent a speech-language pathologist.]
These statements can be reassuring when you first notice signs that your child’s speech development is lagging. And it’s true—some children “just” have a delay in speech development. A delay, by the way, is defined as a “slowness.” Everything related to speech and language could be lagging behind, but generally occurring together. Then suddenly your very quiet two-year-old grows into a totally chatty three-year-old. Those things happen. Other times, they don’t.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech-language development, please have him evaluated by a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP). Worst case scenario: nothing is wrong; you were just a proactive parent.
Leslie Lindsay is a former child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic. Her daughter, Kate is a bright and creative 2nd grader resolving from childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). It is because of her that Leslie wrote the first book designed for parents on this complex neurologically-based motor speech disorder. Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012) is as much as labor of love as it is a resource to help others along their apraxia journey. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two daughters, and a basset hound where she writes full-time. Follow her blog, “Practical Parenting with a Twist” in which she writes 5x/week on apraxia, education, parenting, and the writer’s life. “Like” her Facebook Page. Follow her on Twitter at @LeslieLindsay1.
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