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Opening Doors for Children & Families

The Communication Shift

I had an interesting conversation with one of our ABC Head Start teachers, Margot Mighton, this week. She has been working on a project exploring communication delays in our Head Start children. As some of you may or may not know, many of the children at ABC Head Start come to us with a communication delay. But what was interesting in talking with Margot is she believes she is seeing a shift in the type of communication profile we are frequently seeing in children currently, and I would have to agree with her analysis.

Let me explain, and let me start by saying I am certainly NOT a qualified speech and language pathologist! Since I started working with Head Start children 8 years ago, I noticed we talked most about two types of communication delays; expressive delays and receptive delays. An expressive delay meaning trouble conveying information and a receptive delay meaning trouble understanding information.

Now what Margot was saying is she feels she is seeing a shift where more children are being identified with having receptive communication delays. We could speculate for hours on why this might be, but one thing she said in particular I found quite striking; "Children need to hear language being used before they learn to use it. And they need to hear it over and over again." This means they need to be talked to and have shared interactions, they need to have good models in order to truly understand language and then how to use it.

Have you walked into a room lately with many people in it but it's completely silent? You look around and everyone is staring down at a smart phone or a tablet? They are probably having a conversation with someone, or many people. I for one am TERRIBLE for this. I admit, I love my gadgets and I particularly love my smart phone. I know not everyone has a fondness for this technology but I also know I am not alone in my love affair. Our world is changing, when change happens we need to examine the impacts it's having on everything. I'm going to guess that we talk less around and to our children than we did 10 years ago. A very wise mentor of mine, Line Perron once said, "To our children our voice is like music." Let's sing more often.

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