He is the naughtiest kid in his class. When the teacher tells him to line up, he stays at his desk. When his baseball coach tells him to go play third base, he runs to right field. When his dad tells him to brush his teeth, he takes off his socks. When his music teacher tells the class to hand in their instruments, he shakes those maracas like there is no tomorrow. He listens to no one and never follows directions. What a horrible kid, right?
Or maybe not. This is an ongoing issue for a lot of kiddos. Is it a behavioral issue, or is it something more? Much too often, it is something more. That “something” is typically a receptive language delay or disorder. What is receptive language? You mean you aren’t all speech pathologist who nerd out about things like receptive language? Oh, sorry. Let me tell you. Receptive language is comprehending what we hear. It is not just listening, but understanding. Following directions, comprehending stories, and be able to point to items named are all basic receptive language skills.
Kiddos with receptive language issues try really hard to “behave” but aren’t understanding what is being asked of them. Let me show you what I mean: Tome el papel a la papelera y sentarse en la alfombra azul.
If you said this to me I would do the following: Hand in my paper and find a blue crayon. Why? Because…..I understood the word paper (papel) and the word blue (azul). So I would try and piece together the parts of the instruction that I understood. Here is the problem: The instruction was to “put the paper in the trash and go sit on the blue rug.” Yeah yeah, I know, it was in Spanish, so how would I possibly get that right? Turns out that is what directions sound like to “naughty” (receptive language delayed) child.
And then there is this: “No, he is not language delayed, he is behavioral. Whenever I tell him the direction again, he melts down or throws things.” Oh really? You mean to tell me that you told him something once, he didn’t understand, but tried, and did it wrong, so then you told him the exact same thing again, and he got upset? No! How could this be? Yes, he must be a very badly behaved child. (note sarcasm).
No matter how many times you told me “Tome el papel a la papelera y sentarse en la alfombra azul.” I would do it wrong until you taught me what it meant. So how can we teach a child what something means, if they cannot understand it in their native language? Well, that is easy. Show them. Simplify things. Instead of telling them “Put your paper in the trash and sit on the blue rug” you are going to say “Put your paper in the trash” as you hold up a paper, walk it to the trash and throw it in. Then you are going to say “Then sit on the blue rug,” as you walk to the blue rug and sit. We can teach them to understand receptive language by showing and doing as they are hearing it. Take the stress out of the situation, for you and the kiddo. You guys have got this.
My sweet cousins showing my two year old how to play kick ball, not telling. Success!
Also, please note this is a good way to teach typically developing kid’s receptive language skills too. Every kiddo benefits from hearing while seeing. It is the best way to learn!
Worried your kiddo has a receptive delay? Let’s chat. We do FREE screens. Because Theratime is awesome like that.
Join me on Theratime’s Facebook page this week Wednesday at 9 pm central for a Live Facebook Wine and Chat! Bring your questions and your wine!