Making the Connection Between “Busy” and Late Talking
It’s so easy to dismiss a toddler’s distractedness and busyness, even when there are obvious developmental differences like late talking. Once when I asked a dad to gauge his little boy’s attention span, he grinned and said, “Got a stopwatch?”
Here’s why we shouldn’t ignore super short attention spans in late talkers…
An adequate attention span is absolutely necessary for learning anything. Our brains are designed for focus and deep thinking. If a busy child doesn’t give herself ample time to develop this skill, improving cognitive skills and learning language become very difficult. This is particularly true when a child doesn’t seem to understand how to listen to others.
Listening is such an important part of developing an attention span. It comes after that initial response to events or people. If a child is not attending to the words other people are saying, it’s highly unlikely that he or she is learning language. Listening and then understanding words always comes before a child is ready to say words.
Many late talkers with an established medical diagnosis will have difficulty developing longer attention spans because their little systems are not maturing like other toddlers their own age.
Children with sensory processing and sensory regulation disorders will also have differences in their attention spans. If you’re new to these terms, let me share how I explain this to parents. Sensory processing and regulating is how we all filter and react to incoming information. People, and even young children, with normal sensory systems are able to determine what’s important versus what is not important. We pay attention when we should and ignore the rest. We learn to regulate our physical bodies so that we eat, sleep, and participate in everyday life with stable, predictable habits. We also begin to regulate our emotions and feelings and adjust to everything happening around us, even life’s surprises.
When kids can’t do this, they become overloaded and appear distracted, irritable, or hyperactive because they are so busy dealing with their own internal ‘noise.’ Meanwhile, their little brains and bodies struggle to process what’s going in their immediate surroundings and how they feel about those events.
That’s an excerpt from Let’s Talk About Talking 11 Skills Toddlers Master Before Words Emerge
If you’d like more information for strategies to help a toddler develop a longer attention span, you can get it (and ways to address the other 10 skills that come before a child begins to communicate!) in that therapy manual – appropriate for professionals and parents. Order here!