Is my child’s behaviour normal?

I want to share an observation with you. I was recently updating my LinkedIn profile and couldn’t help but notice all of the different paths that my friends and acquaintances took in terms of their careers. Some went on to become healthcare professionals, lawyers, educators, programmers, CEO’s and founders of various firms and corporations… others took on titles that are a mouthful to even pronounce – corporate strategy consultants, chief operating officers, clinical research and regulatory directors – to name a few. Basically, we all went in different directions and I think that’s pretty awesome. As diverse as we are in our career choices, personal beliefs, or political views, the one factor that unites most of us is becoming parents to wonderful boys and girls. Except for when they throw tantrums. They are not so wonderful when they have a meltdown in the middle of a supermarket because you didn’t get them a KitKat.

No matter how busy our lives are, we often intercept at kids’ birthday parties, play dates, and other kid-friendly-shenanigans. We love our lil’ ones and invest lots of time, affection, and resources to ensure their health, happiness, and success. We fill the schedules of our 2 and 3 year olds with swimming, dance, and soccer lessons, get them private tutors, spend an arm and a leg on organic produce… and the list goes on. I don’t know about you but going at this rate, many may need to take out a second mortgage to afford all such “enrichments.”

Given that my friends and acquaintances know my profession and knowledge of developmental milestones as they pertain to communication, I often get approached with questions from the likes of: “Is it normal that Johnny only has 2 words at 15 months?” “Is it normal that Eva isn’t babbling (stringing sounds such as ba-ba-ba) at 6 months?” “Should I be worried that Mikey is still saying ‘w’ for ‘r’ (e.g. wabbit for rabbit) at age 4?” “Is learning two languages simultaneously (e.g. native language at home and English at daycare) delaying Emily’s speech and will make her fall behind?” You get the idea. What I’m trying to get at is that no matter whether you are a professor, a homemaker, or a CEO, our common denominator is our worry when it comes to our kids. We worry whether they are on track with their cognitive, physical, language, and social development and seek validation that “everything is okay” or “you should get it checked out.”

It is confusing to know what constitutes normalcy, especially with the wealth of information that is available to us in these technologically advanced times. I often see the following two extremes among my acquaintances and clients: the ones who will sign their child up for speech therapy at 15 months because the child is not producing multi-syllabic words or stringing two-word phrases; and the ones who ‘normalize’ a true delay based on anecdotal sources or the advice of well meaning but misinformed relatives and friends: “Yes, my 3-year-old is not saying any words yet, but so did aunt Marie’s son and look at him now.” Or “according to this-and-that-website boys start talking later than girls and it’s normal for them to use gestures instead of words until age 4, especially when there are older siblings to compete with.” Or “he’s just not ready yet”. The Speech-Language Pathologist in me is silently screaming each time I hear these assertions, even though on the outside I keep my cool and politely suggest to reconsider their stance based on the latest evidence-based research. Sometimes, we are thrown off even by sources that we hope to trust: “Our paediatrician told us that we are overly anxious and to give it another 6 months.”

These two extremes and everyone in between are in need of a credible, evidence-based, safe forum to provide them with reliable information, to dispel common myths, to address their concerns, and offer professional guidance. This is exactly what my website is for. Through my weekly blog posts and videos, I intend to share with you my knowledge of what works best based on both, research and the many hours I spend in therapy. I will provide developmental milestones of what is considered ‘normal’ based on scholarly data, address various topics about your child’s speech, language, and social-cognitive domains, as well as provide tips on ways for you to stimulate their progress at home via readily available toys and activities.

Disclaimer: I am a registered Speech-Language Pathologist license to practice in Ontario. The information that I provide is “general” in nature and is based on my academic training and professional expertise. I do not know your child’s specific strengths and areas of need and therefore cannot provide any tailored advise without a comprehensive evaluation. If you need a consultation, please do not hesitate to contact myself or another professional with your particular concern.