Addressing language challenges is also good for mental health
Some children have difficulty understanding or processing language. This range of difficulties are grouped as “receptive language” problems. It is obvious that children with unresolved receptive language problems will have difficulties fulfilling their potential in school. But are there other problems?
A recent study from the University of London looked at the longer term emotional and mental health effects of receptive language problems in childhood. The study found that children whose receptive language skills were impaired at age 5 tended to have more limited socioeconomic circumstances in adulthood, greater problems with the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and reduced levels of well-being and mental health in later adulthood.
This study should not be a surprise – a child grows in a context, and difficulties with understanding language can affect his or her psychological development in many ways. We now have another reason to urge parents to address their children’s speech needs as early in their life as possible. Some children have challenges sufficient to qualify for public services. Evaluation and possible service for children birth through three years of age is available in North Carolina through a Children’s Developmental Service Agency (CDSA), and for children 3 years of age and older through the public school system. Parents should keep in mind that their child may still benefit from services even if their problems are not severe enough to qualify for state-supported services.
There is no better way to promote language development in young children than by reading with them on a regular basis. Check out our Lucy’s Book Club, an educational outreach program for all parents and young children. The book club combines the Center's expertise in early childhood education and mental health by offering parents reading suggestions three times a year on different child development topics.
Books for children and parents are selected by a panel (of Lucy Daniels Center staff and Wake County librarians) who review the books and also provide parents with additional readings and resources on each topic. Parents can sign their children up to become members of the book club and read the weekly blog to learn about Lucy’s Book Club events and helpful advice on approaching the topic with their child/children.
Mental Health Matters! is posted on the Carolina Parent Magazine's website, the Triangle's family resource - in print for over 21 years! And online at www.carolinaparent.com.