5 signs that a child may be experiencing a communication disorder
Communication disorders can affect the way a child talks, understands or interacts with others. Children with language delay will still often be able to communicate through eye contact or gestures; however a child with communication difficulties may also struggle with non verbal interactions. The ability to communicate effectively with others is a vital step in building relationships and sound development. A child’s communication skills will depend on may factors such as their age and their health. Other conditions such as cleft palate or ADHD can affect a child’s communication and language. Children will develop communication at their own pace, however spotting a communication disorder early provides early intervention to occur.
There are many factors that can affect a child’s communication, here are 5 signs that a child may be experiencing a communication disorder
Interaction skills can be affected if a child has a communication disorder. Many children will be able to interact with other children and adults sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas. A child who has a disorder may not show the same skills when with others, they may avoid interaction and chose to play alone.
Lack of eye contact
Eye contact is an important factor in communication. A child who has communication and language difficulties may not be able to focus their attention on another person for a set amount of time, causing their eye contact to be short and broken. When a child is finding it difficult to keep eye contact or concentrate on what you are saying, their attention will drift off to other distractions in the environment. They may fidget or look around the room whilst you talking to you, this can be due to a communication disorder.
Dribbling is common in babies but should stop once a child begins to gain control of their mouth muscles and start talking. If a child is excessively dribbling past the age of two and a half, you may find their speech sounds are also immature. This can be caused by a range of oral motor disorders or poor mouth muscles. It is important to see your GP if you feel unable to understand a child’s speech clearly by the age of three, as by this age a child’s speech should be mostly understood by those close to the child.
Unable to repeat words back
As children begin to gain a breadth of language, they gain the ability to repeat words or short sentences back to you on request. If a child is unable to do so, this could mean they are having difficulties with listening and attention or with understanding. Communication disorders can mean the child has some language but they are unable to use in correctly in context.
Inability to follow instructions with visual clues
All children have to develop understanding skills to be able to follow instruction out of context, however by the age of two most children can follow simple instructions out of context with visual clues or gestures. If a child is unable to follow an instruction and has to be taken to the area or shown what is being asked, they may be finding it difficult to understand.
If you are concerned about a child’s communication and language, observe the child in various situations, talk to your SENCO and speak to parents. If parents are happy then contact other professionals for further help and support.