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Communication And Language Disorders In Children Psychology Essay

The way we communicate is an important aspect throughout all of our lives. It can say a lot about who we are, our status, and education. Not everyone communicates in the same way as others. Some people have deficiencies such as autism or impairment that slow down communication development. Although these disorders are well known our society has not made it a priority to make the study of Communications a main focus of study until college. Under-developed communication can affect the individual’s family and future if it is not taken care of. Using my variety of sources I intend to address these issues and solutions to help educate generations to come to raise awareness and stress the importance of communication.

This review will begin with understanding why communication and the ability to have skill in public-speaking are important. It will then continue throughout to explain different types of language disorders through a child’s development and end with family adaptation. “The Importance of Communication and Public-Speaking Skills” written by Leo F. Parvis emphasizes the importance of Communication. He names the different definitions of communication and Aristotle’s five elements. Isabelle Rapin and Lorna Wing’s book Preschool Children with Inadequate Communication: Developmental Language Disorder, Autism, Low IQ, discusses the classification of different communication disorders and autism along with the conflicts that follow them. In addition they also go into detail about the historical data of communication deficiencies and autism. Rhea Paul PHD wrote the book “Language Disorders: Through Infancy and Adolescence. In the beginning of the book she talks about how no one can really define what a Language Disorder is. She than takes the time to pick apart her own definition of a Language Disorder. Next she talks about the different way to diagnose someone with having a deficiency while giving suggestion on how to cope. Marie M. Bristol wrote the journal "Mothers of Children with Autism or Communication Disorders: Successful Adaptation and the Double ABCX Model" based off of a study that demonstrates the severity of communication disorders and the effect on the families. It consists of the severity, marital adaptation, stress on the family, and how they handle the situation. 

In “The Importance of Communication and Public-Speaking Skills” Leo F. Parvis believes schools haven’t been diligent enough in emphasizing the importance for communication. He defines the word “communication” is a variety of ways some being; the state of being connected, the expression of oneself that is readily and clearly understood, and the transferring of meaning between individuals. He states, “Communication, a complex process, is not an easy skill to perfect. Nevertheless, it is the most significant skill in human life” (1). In early 1999, the Chronicle of Higher Education discussed the issue that schools have lost the importance of teaching the art of communication. Parvis states that “The debate went on for several weeks, and the majority of participants who were experts in communication studies believed that in recent years, institutions of higher learning have paid less attention to speaking skills than in the past” (1). We use communication in our everyday lives and it has become a major factor for our futures. “We need to promote this skill among our colleagues and persuade more environmental health professionals to actively participate in events and gatherings, get acquainted with the idea of participation, be willing to share their thoughts, and contribute in any way possible” (1).

Parvis names the five factors of Public-Speaking derived from Aristotle: the speaker, the message, the audience, the occasion, and the effect. “By constructing this list, Aristotle, was advising speakers to construct speeches for different audiences, on different occasions, for different effects” (2). One of the most important aspects of communication is listening. To listen means to understand and learn which eventually leads to applying in our own speeches in the future. If we can master all of these areas of communication we will be ready to take on any challenge that comes our way.

To understand language disorders we need to define what one is. Rhea Paul is the author of Language Disorders: Through Infancy and Adolescence. The beginning she states that no one can really define what a Language Disorder is. After talking about her language seminar class as a graduate student she says not even her teacher had a clear definition of what a language disorder was. She says, “ You may be surprised to learn that defining children's language disorders is not a simple matter or even one about which everyone in the field agrees” (3). She then gave her own personal definition of what a language disorder was “children can be described as having language disorders if they have a significant deficit in learning to talk, under-stand, or use any aspect of language appropriately, relative to both environmental and norm-referenced expectations for children of similar developmental level” (97).

Communication deficits are one of the most common reasons that affect mental development. Paul next takes a study from Darley (1991) to demonstrate how an individual would be diagnosed with a deficiency. The study is divided into two stages called: appraisal and diagnosis. The appraisal process consists of past clinical data along with questionnaires provided by the parents and an examination of the individual. The diagnosis is the term used when classifying the issue and labeling it. An assessment process that makes these two stages less distinct is called the descriptive-developmental approach. “The goal of this approach is to decide whether the child has a significant deficit in communication and to describe that deficit, if identified, in as much detail as possible, relative to the normal sequence of language acquisition” (Paul, 21). This approach focuses less on the “label” and more on the description which is why it is not primarily used. In other words, it is more concerned with how the individual communicates rather than diagnosing them.

Paul believes it is the moral duty of speech pathologists to improve and prevent language disorders: “Why should prevention be our concern? Are we not language pathologists, people who diagnose and treat disorders of language learning? Isn't remediation our business? Certainly it is” (Paul, 97). We tend to ignore the areas of rehabilitation and prevention because of the costs that it would entail and the emotional distress that it would place on the family’s shoulders.

Paul estimated the cost values for different types of disorders and the special necessities that would be essential. A child with mental retardation would need special education programs that could cost up to $13,000 dollars a year, and if they need residential treatment it could be closer to $25,000. “In 1984, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) estimated that preventing even one case of mental retardation can result in long-term savings of more than $1 million, and the figure would be even higher today” (Paul, 97). In 1990, the Department of Health and Human Services made goals to help raise awareness and reduce risks because they too, believe like Rhea Paul, that we have an obligation to help prevent these disorders and get the needed care for them.

Isabelle Rapin and Lorna Wing’s book Preschool Children with Inadequate Communication: Developmental Language Disorder, Autism, Low IQ explains the difference between Autism and Asperger’s. The two disorders have related features such as: impairments in reciprocal interactions, and stereotyped interests in activities. Asperger’s will not be diagnosed if the individual has delayed language and cognitive development. Cognitive development deals with focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of brain development. The book presents several studies that represent the problem of specific diagnosis with children who do not communicate effectively.

The study is intended to show the different types of test that brain imaging, EEGs, and chromosome and chemical tests rarely provide an answer for. Determining whether or not a child at such a young age has autism is very difficult. It separated “normal” children with no diagnoses in any type of communication deficiency and those who showed autistic features and under-developed communication. Rapin and Wing believe it is more effective to observe the way a child interacts and plays rather than giving a series of tests. “Careful attention to the child's language and behavior, ability to play creatively, and analysis of neuropsychological tests and language are much more informative for arriving at a correct diagnosis.” Along with observation they split a total of 556 children up into five different groups, and collected historical data. They studied past families members who may have had any type of language disorders. Of the children that were examined 201 specifically had Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).

In Bristol’s journal "Mothers of Children with Autism or Communication Disorders: Successful Adaptation and the Double ABCX Model” she talks of a study that demonstrates the severity of communication disorders and the effect on the families. It looked into 45 different families with someone who was autistic and or consisted of a communication –impaired child. It consists of the severity, marital adaptation, stress on the family, and how they cope. The ABCX Formula was founded in 1958 by Reuben Hill. The ABCX Formula focuses primarily on variables dealing with families different interactions: A (the crisis-precipitating event/stressor) B (the family’s crisis-meeting resources) C (the definition the family makes of the event) produces X (the crisis).

Families with a child with impairment have caused great attention because there tends to be more stress on those specific families. They have a higher rate of divorce and money issues especially when a child must be institutionalized (even though it has declined). “Even very recent studies (DeMyer & Goldberg, 1983) indicate that one-third of a treated group of autistic children were in residential placement before age 14 and two-thirds in residential placement after that age” (Bristol, 470). Recently, there have been studies saying that there are many instances when families have had successful adaptations. The study was to predict families functioning at high stress and their ability to cope with the contribution of autism or severe communication disorders. The study had four hypotheses: first that the study would show overall healthy adaptation to the severe autism or communication disorder; second predicted more adequate coping patterns; third predicted that the family would self-blame, have regrets, and eventually spiral downward from all the family stresses added to the child with autism or communication disorder; and the fourth was that all the stresses would pile-up and become more of the issue rather the handicap itself.

The participants in the study were classified into five social classes. Twenty-four fell into three lower classes and twenty-one fell into two higher classes. In this study the stressor, or A model was the disabled child. “Limits on Family Opportunity, was used to assess the extent to which the family had to pass up educational, vocational, or other self-development opportunities because of the child” (Bristol, 474).

The results of the first hypothesis showed that children with more severe handicap resulted in less marital problems. In the second hypothesis the prediction was correct in saying it would have positive parenting, but incorrect in saying that it would have greater family cohesion. On the contrary, the family cohesion showed the same for all the hypotheses that greater family cohesion came from negative family adaption rather than healthy. The third hypothesis showed that family with more outside stress were less happy in their marriages and did not cope as well with their handicap child. The severity of the handicap did not play a major role in the results, these mothers viewed having a child with a handicap as one of the worst things that could happy to a family. Hypothesis four showed what it had predicted; all the other stressors would be a major factor rather than the severity of the child’s handicap. The study helps show all the factors that a family would go through on top of having a handicap child and that some families cannot cope.

Although the sources are loosely linked, each shows a different perspective on Communication disorders. Whether we have a disorder or not we all need to communicate in some way to be able to survive everyday life. We need to put more focus on perfecting our own speech and being more grateful for the field itself. We should also learn more about the different types of disorders and make it a priority to learn how to adapt to the disorders in case we may become face-to-face with one in our future. A Communications Major is criticized for being an “easy way out” when in reality we have the opportunity to engage in studies like the ones above. Others may not realize that they too have been engaging a communication area of expertise, but when you are studying to be a special education teacher, you are learning to communicate with a child with a disability. When you are studying to be a Forensic Scientist you are learning to write labs to be able to communicate information scientifically for other scientists to understand. We need communication, if we cannot adapt now we will have more of a problem if our line of work leads us there or if one our children are stricken with such a fate. We overlook these disorders because we are all still in the state of mind that it could never happen to us, until it does.

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