Children typically reach certain milestones that serve as the guide for normal language and development. Psychological factors, however, can impact this development and cause delays. If parents and professionals working with children identify these factors, their actions ideally can improve a child's circumstances, helping him move in a positive direction developmentally.
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Abuse and Neglect
The Child Welfare Information Gateway website states that 905,000 children were abused or neglected in 2006. Such children struggle more with language, interpersonal skills and adapting to school environments, as the psychological effect of traumatic experiences can last for years. In addition, the Arizona Child Abuse Info Center reports that 20 per cent of abused children will likely have a significantly slower rate of brain growth, setting their overall development on a negative path.
Children need an adequate environment to learn and develop at a normal pace. Ideally, kids should have an enriching environment, where they can explore and interact with novel and interesting objects and experiences. In an inadequate environment, children fall behind developmentally: Left unchallenged, their brains won't have the opportunity to make necessary connections.
Depression exists in children just as it does in adults, but a child may exhibit anger, hopelessness and sadness as symptoms of depression. A depressed child may withdraw socially and become more sensitive to rejection, with language development suffering as a result. School-age children may have difficulty concentrating and suffer from fatigue, disrupting their schoolwork. These symptoms all play a part in delayed language and development.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders
As of 2011, the American Psychiatric Association has recognised five pervasive developmental disorders, commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorders. As the name implies, children with any of these disorders experience pervasive developmental impairments in many different areas. They tend to struggle with reciprocal social interactions, language and communication, and also exhibit varying degrees of repetitive and restrictive behaviours and interests. The National Institute of Mental Health offers a wealth of information on these disorders (See Resources).
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