A: It is very common for women who experience difficulties or disruptions with breas... more
You are correct to make the link between delayed language onset and aut... more
You are correct to make the link between delayed language onset and autism however I do not think this is the case for your son because he is attempting to communicate – autism is less about words and more about intent to communicate. If your little one is communicating in the following ways, you do not need to worry:
- Points at things to show you what he is thinking about
- Understands your language and responds appropriately
- Tries to communicate with babbles
- Smiles and loves to engage with people
You should worry if there are a cluster of these signs:
- He smiled late or rarely smiles
- He does not make eye contact or avoids it
- He does not point and try to communicate with gestures
- He does not listen to you or try to understand
- He has no words at 24m
There are 3 factors beneath the surface:
At this age children’s separation anxiety peaks and they become aware that they are differentiated and separate from their parents. Toddlers feel overwhelmed and a variety of emotions and tension starts simmering under the surface.
Children’s communication is still developing. Tantrums are their way of expressing their feelings where they don't have enough words to express them.
Toddlers operate from their downstairs brain while their upstairs brain is still developing. This part of the brain is not capable of skills such as reasoning, logical thinking, understanding consequences, and emotional regulation.
Strategies to support you through this phase:
Welcome their feelings but limit the behaviors. When your child is in the middle of the tantrum, they are offline. Let them go through it while trying to contain the behavior by moving away whenever possible to safer, less corded, and calmer spots at home or in public.
Spend more time engaging in brain friendly toddler activities together (sensory play, active outdoor play). This can support their emotional regulation as their brain is developing.
Replace reasoning and giving directions with simply labeling what you see. Help them co-regulate by saying out loud what you're seeing and labeling things for them instead of logical reasoning with them and wait for the storm to pass. (e.g., “ I see that you want to get your toy and it’s making you upset that it’s not here”).
Prepare. Reflect on places, items, or needs that frequently trigger their tantrums and work around them whenever possible.
Children thrive in routine. Establish a predictable routine for their needs and activities. Attending nursery can add more structure to their day.
Take care of yourself. This is an overwhelming experience for both you and your toddlers. Your feelings of anger, helplessness, or frustration are valid. Practice self-regulating techniques during the tantrum (e.g., belly breathing, recall what is in your control and what isn't).
When to seek professional help?
With all the above in mind, if tantrums become more frequent, intense, last longer, cause them harm or injury, you find yourself losing control or struggling with frequent feelings of anger or loss of control consider consulting with an early childhood specialists such as child and parenting psychologists, pediatric occupational therapist, or speech and language therapists if there are communication difficulties.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Speech & Language Therapist, Dalia Alzyod at The Lighthouse Center