C.P. asks from Cleveland, GA on August 18, 2007
4Yr Old with Speech Disabilities.
My 4 year old son started to go to see a speech therapist for a few months last school year and has started agian this school year, he started pre-k and the teachers are saying that he is having to be reminded to stay on task many times a day. Is this normal for most 4 years old or could this be part of his learning disability.
Sometime when I try to tell him to do things it is like he is not even hearing me and I have to ask him 3 or 4 times to do the same thing. I don't want my child to be labeled the trouble maker though out school because I cannot get him to follow directions.
Does anyone else have these problems?
C.D. answers from Atlanta on August 19, 2007
Yes that is normal for a 4-year old boy. Girls are able to sit still at that age but it takes boys developmentally until about 9. Unfortunately, the school system (that I taught and counseled in) does not recognize that developmental chart. When I was in kindergarten, we were up and moving most of the day. The only time we sat was "circle time" which was sitting on the floor facing each other and listening to a talented teacher reading an exciting story with animation for about 30 minutes before we took our naps and I was 6 years old and a girl. Two years later my brother had difficulty with even that amount of sitting but there were no labels - he was just "active". To this day he likes to be the center of attention.
Now apart from the history lesson, there are some definite reasons why your son does not speak - my 35 year old son did not speak until 4.5 yrs old, and there were several reasons. He is now a very sharp, smart, National VP of an international company and sells to colleges and companies and trains others to do so. He has spoken through life even though he had a late start. Don't lose hope. Stay with the speech therapy, but also have his hearing checked by a specialist. Sometimes there are certain tones ( soft spoken teacher voice) that boys do not hear until later. They are built to listen to MEN give them instruction. You didn't mention a husband, but get him on board.
He may have a strong reaction to toxins in your home - yes YOU are buying toxins. Check out www.concernedmoms.com.
You CAN prevent your son from being labeled by the school. Home school him! Take him out of school until he's 7 - that's the law. You have rights. They WILL label if they have half a chance and any child who is NOT a ROBOT WILL be labeled in some way, whether correctly or not. You said you are a full time Mom.
Give your son choices, not orders. Make the choices BOTH what he is ALLOWED to do. Ask questions and find out his temperament. Each child has a special bent. Some are more compliant than others. Some will test you more. Get a good book (college textbook - not psychobabble in the book stores) on child development so you are armed with information that his teacher SHOULD have received in her teaching degree. Then read Dr. James Dobson's A STRONG-WILLED CHILD. And be patient. I am available for private counseling - low rates. Email me.
Go2Harmony in Home Employment
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N.L. answers from Atlanta on August 19, 2007
Sometimes you have to look at the full picture- maybe it's not your son that is the "problem". It might be that the teaching style in his school doesn't match the way he learns. If you can afford it, there are more options out there that will take the time to look at how your child learns best, and then take the effort to work them him. Education should be a holistic philosophy- not a determined science. We are all different.
I also like the approach to use at home by using touch and visual cues to communicate if this works best with your son.
C.L. answers from Atlanta on August 19, 2007
This behavior is totally normal for his age. My, now, 5 year old doesn't have speech disabilities, but he definitely has some trouble following directions and staying on task. I asked our pediatrician about this and she said that this was all part of growing up and he'll grow out of it. Just to let you know - it does get better! From 3 until now, he has grown up tremendously. In his 3 year old preschool, he had lots of problems like you're describing. My son was the trouble maker at that school and the teachers were saying he needed special education. We took him out of that preschool after that year was up. In 4 year old pre-k, by the end of the year, his teachers were saying that he was the smartest kid in the class, he still had some trouble staying on task, but they think he could be in the gifted class in public school. It's amazing what a year can do. He's only been in Kindergarten a week, but his teacher said that he is going to be "a blast to have in class". So see! Kids grow out of that behavior. I still even have trouble now getting him to follow directions and I have to tell him sometimes 10 times to get dressed or eat his food or clean his toys, etc. Sometimes I look at other kids and think, "Why is their kid so well-behaved and mine isn't?" Well, I have to remind myself, all kids are different and kids aren't little adults. They're all going to grow up differently and at a different pace. It doesn't mean that your child has a learning disability or anything like that. Give him some time and just work on him at home and he will eventually start doing much better.
M.M. answers from Atlanta on August 19, 2007
Why is he going to speech? Is his speech delayed or is it because he is just having trouble articulating? My son started Speech in Pre-K too. We moved to Ohio and now are back and they are reevaluating him again (1st grade)and he will probably start next week. How is your son when he is doing something that he really enjoys. Does he stay focused on that task? As far as not hearing you when you ask him to do something we have that with both my kids! I think they just choose not to hear me! If I go over to them and bend down, then ask, it helps a lot. Also when I do this I started saying "You may_______" Someone gave me that advice and it is really working. So instead of it's time to eat, I say you may come and eat now! Also I give them warnings like "You have 5 minutes" of whatever they are doing.
I think it is pretty normal for a four year old to still have a shorter attention span and from what I saw with our Pre-K, there were times that they had the kids doing something for quite a while. And there were those who would either get fidgety and start talking or what just start doing something else. So I would judge it more on how he does when he is working with something that really interests him...does he stick to it.
Hope that helps....hang in there!!!
L.W. answers from Atlanta on August 19, 2007
This may have everything to do with your child's "learning style." Given that he has a speech challenge, he is most likely not an auditory learner so your verbal commands don't register for him. Try approaching him and placing your hand on his back to get his attention, wait until he makes eyecontact and along with your words have some visual cue as to what you are trying to tell him. For example, if you need him to put his shoes on, approach him with his shoes in your hands, place hand on his back, make eye contact with him, hold up shoes and say, "It's time to put your shoes on." If asking him to come to dinner, same thing except with a hand motion for eating/drinking. It's not that he CAN'T hear you but his brain most likely doesn't process auditory information/commands as well as he likely processes kinesthetic/tactile and visual cues. Try reading the book The Way They Learn and look more into learning styles theory. Also, he may have some sensory integration stuff going on and a screening with an occupational therapist along with his speech therapy might be a good idea. Definitely get him screened. And there is support for parents regardless of what you discover is the issue. I'm a licenced counselor specialzing in working with children ages 2 - 11 so if I can help you find some support in your part of town, just email me directly. Take care and good luck!
S.C. answers from Lafayette on August 19, 2007
Hello My son is 4yr old and is in speech, physical and O.Therapy. since he was 12 mth old. he has slow imporve since he has been in therapy. he has some problem in preschool. he start kindergarten this yr he is doing better in school setting than pre-k setting in a daycare. with therapy My son has been get better at listen to what I say. but up till he was about a little over four he act like he didn't here what I was ask him to do.
A.G. answers from Atlanta on September 23, 2007
I am a speech pathologist, and have worked in the school system for 4 years with preschool and elementary aged children. Has your child had a recent hearing screening/evaluation? His behavior may be typical 4-year-old boy behavior, but it may be possible that he is having some trouble hearing you. Even something as simple as wax build up could impair his hearing.
As far as his attention, most 4-year-old's attention spans are not very long. Is he becoming frustrated or distracted because he does not understand what is going on, or is he just curious about everything going on around him? If he doesn't understand what is going on and/or cannot express his wants and needs to teachers, then I would say it is part of his speech impairment. If he doesn't understand, he is not going to be interested in the activity and he will go find something else that interests him! If he is able to do what is asked of him, and he is getting distracted while completing the task, then I would say this is most likely typical 4-year-old boy behavior!
Hope this helps. And if he hasn't had his hearing screened/tested in a while I would get that done just to rule out any hearing issues. Your child's pediatrician and/or public school should be able to do that for you.
-A. Gomez, MS-CCC-SLP
L.M. answers from Atlanta on August 19, 2007
Have you had his hearing checked and visited the ENT? He might have trouble hearing. A friend of mine thought her son was ignoring her and it turned out he had water in his middle ear and everything was sounding weird and garbled. My son had speech issues that weren't getting any better despite his speech therapy and when we took him to an ENT it turned out that he had a moderate tongue tie. Once he fixed that tongue tie he was easier to understand.
As far as not being able to stay on task in Pre-K, tell me a 4 year old that can sit perfectly still! I have worked with all ages and this is perfectly normal behavior for a 4 year old, especially if this is his first week of school or his first time in a school setting. If you could ask the teachers to give you specifics of the times he wasn't staying on task rather than a general complaint it could help you figure out what is going on. Sometimes little ones get so focused on what they are doing or something that catches their eyes that they tend to block out everything else.
Hope this helps.