Child Development: What’s Typical vs. What’s Not?

First, let me start by saying, I am a mom. grammy, and preschool teacher.  I can share my personal experience with you.  BUT…if you have any major concerns about your child’s development, the best person to ask would be your pediatrician.  Remember, no question is a bad question. 

When my first born was around 4 years old, I knew that something was different.  I often wondered, “Is my toddler normal?”  I would give him a direction and he couldn’t follow it.  As he got a little older, I would tell him the answer to something he asked me about, and later he would ask me the exact same question.  I actually panicked and thought maybe something was medically wrong.  His pediatrician assured me he was healthy. So, I stopped worrying.  When he entered grade school, I really started to notice that he was falling behind the other kids in his class.  He would often get frustrated because he tried to explain things, and it was impossible to follow his train of thought.  Trying to write a paragraph about what he did over summer vacation in 2nd grade caused a complete meltdown!  He was able to read the words to a story but didn’t have a clue what it was all about.  In other words, he had no comprehension skills.

His teacher at the time kept telling me he had ADD.  I knew something wasn’t right, but my background in education and motherly instincts told me that was not the proper diagnosis.  Our pediatrician recommended that we do an evaluation with a neuropsychologist.  I’ll be honest, it was costly and time consuming.  That being said, it was worth every penny.  We found out that our son had a learning disability known as Language Processing Disorder.  According to  ADDitutde Magazine, A language processing disorder (LPD) is an impairment that negatively affects communication through spoken language. There are two types of LPD—people with expressive language disorder have trouble expressing thoughts clearly, while those with receptive language disorder have difficulty understanding others. Our son suffered from both types.

We quickly began working with an educational therapist that specialized in this disorder, and a speech therapist.  Within 4 months my son said to me one day, “Mommy did you know that when you read a story it’s like a movie is showing in your head?”  Prior to this, he was unable to mentally visualize what he read or heard.

He continued working with the educational specialist to varying degrees throughout his entire academic life, including his college years.  He is now 32 years old, married with children, and has a successful professional career.  He is also very grateful for the early intervention he received.

Child development is something we think of often as our children grow.  We constantly worry about what is typical toddler behavior vs. what is not.  Keep in mind that all children do not do the same things at the same time.  Some are early walkers, and some are early talkers.  So, overall do not compare your child to others.  But do pay attention to the child milestones that they should be making.  And listen to your parental instincts. That’s what I did when something just didn’t feel right.  Also, talk to a professional and seek out answers. 

As your child grows and you sense an issue, early childhood intervention plays a vital part vital to your child’s success.