Language, Social, Physical & Cognitive

Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14: A Resource for Parents and Teachers by Chip Wood provides a quick look at language, social, physical, and cognitive skills expected at each age. In addition, the easy to read format provides information about academic skills expected at each age as well.

Language Processing Problems – A Guide for Parents and Teachers by Cindy Gaulin provides an in depth explanation of language processing. The author discusses the ever changing nature of one’s ability to process language, and gives some strategies for addressing specific problems, such as following directions, verbal memory, word retrieval, and organizing expressive output.

Check out asha.org for more information about speech, language and hearing.

Noise and Hearing

Check out The Buds Campaign for information about environmental noises and their implication on hearing loss. This site provides a glimpse at many campaigns and sponsors that stress the importance of proper, and safe, listening practices. Often times iPhones, video games and music players are played at levels like a rock concert, thus causing hearing loss over time. 

The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development and the National Science Foundation found that “background noise in some daycare centers and homes can interfere with language development of infants younger than 13 months.” “All caregivers should set aside quiet time or a quiet corner where infants can get necessary language experiences,” says Rochelle Newman, author of the study. “Otherwise, conversation directed at the child may blend into the background.” [in Developmental Psychology vol. 41, no. 2; taken from ASHA Leader, May 3, 2005]

ASHA and the Sight & Hearing Association warn about the dangers of increasingly noisy toys. While many parents think harmless, some toys are so loud they can cause hearing damage in children. Sight & Hearing publishes an annual list highlighting the noisiest toys.

Auditory Processing

According to National Coalition of Auditory Processing Disorder the term Auditory Processing Disorder is defined as: "a neurological defect that affects how the brain processes spoken language. This makes it difficult for the child to process verbal instruction or even to filter out background noise in the classroom." According to an ASHA article the disorder is characterized by "difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions, and discriminating (or telling the difference between) similar-sounding speech sounds. Sometimes children may behave as if a hearing loss is present, often asking for repetition or clarification. In school, children with APD may have difficulty with spelling, reading, and understanding information presented verbally in the classroom".

  • This is diagnosed by an audiologist
  • Speech-language pathologists treat the language aspects (receptive language/comprehension)

In Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (April 2004), Alan Kamhi suggests that many children have listening difficulties and that these difficulties are often due to reasons other than auditory (central nervous system) disorders. Specifically, the team should look at all aspects of language:

  • articulation, phonology, phonological awareness
  • morphology (ex: prefixes, suffixes)
  • syntax (sentence structure)
  • semantics (vocabulary)
  • pragmatics (social skills)

Executive Functioning:

Frustrated with your child not cleaning their room? Frustrated that your child forgets books and papers needed to complete homework? The following book is worth the investment: Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare. It provides background information about executive skills as well as a list of 11 different behaviors involved in executing a task with many steps. While sample checklists and contracts are included, the case examples that follow very specific task analyses are extremely helpful.

Linear vs. Circular Thinking

or Thematic-centered vs Topic-centered Thinking:

Li-Rong Cheng has done extensive research in the multi-cultural arena. I attended a session of hers at the state convention for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. People of Asian, Latino and African-American descent are more likely to be circular or topic-centered thinkers and writers.

Her example: Given the topic, “Why should we recycle newspapers?”

  • People who think in a linear fashion or thematically would likely say something like, “Recycling newspapers is important for the environment. If we continue to cut down trees to make papers, forests will be depleted, animals will be endangered, landfills will continue to overflow” etc. “so we should recycle.”
  • In comparison, those who think in a circular fashion or topically, would likely say something like, “My grandfather loved trees. Trees are so beautiful.” You, the listener/reader, must make your own conclusion. Of course, if someone talks about how much they like trees, you can conclude that they think recycling is important.