The goal of this article is to enlight parents on child development differences between their children and natives.
We received the diagnosis that our child has a language delay on understanding and talking skills in english when he was just 13 months.
During the discussion with the evaluators, I was confident that our son had no problem and I explained to the people it’s too early to make any psychological conclusion on our child language development.
The other things I raised were that in my country, some children manifest the expected language skills at 2 years old or more. And nobody consider it as a problem. So it might be with our kid.
Finally I asked if the fact the child is exposed to 2 languages could explain their diagnosis.
I remembered I read a book (I don’t remember the title or the author) saying that first born babies present some characteristics: since they are alone for generally the first two years, they develop more autonomy, speak less and are also less sociable (Not autist).
To cope with first children reality challenges, parents have to encourage them to participate in a lot of social activities with kids of the same age if not they could sink into behavioral problems like : arrogance, narcism, etc…
According to some pediatricians and psychologist we met and read, children not born in USA could have some speech delay (up to 4 years old) not pathological but related to the fact that children are learning two language at the same time.
I was so happy when I saw the article that I forwarded it to my wife…and we started applying some tips to help grow our child language:
– we identified he understands English better than French and we started giving him instruction in English.
The reason was that learning tools like videos (Chu-Chu TV) were all in English and normally, the words learned while watching are the one he could easily repeat and master.
– we kept speaking naturally French my wife and I and notice he could pick some words and understand their meaning.
As our baby was growing, we notice a change in his behavior due to some factors:
-Active presence and interaction with our son
-Spending time with other kids.
I found the book “Back to Normal ” of Enrico Gnaulati and was happy to discover we had the same view on children development matters.
The only difference I have with his ideas is that his approach does not include such knowledge for immigrants children born outside America.
Based on my readings and my experience with my son, the reasons for such wrong diagnosis on immigrants children development could be :
–Over Scientisize children’s behavior. This is due to the fact that every behavior could be misinterpret if we always try to put it in a theory. It could be it’s just a behavior that makes him unique and different.
-Ignorance of cultural child development differences. If professional are not trained to integrate cross-cultural parameters in their curriculum, they could be inneficiant dealing with some immigrants children issues. A lot of wrong diagnosis could be due to lack of cross-culture in the training. This is more difficult if the knowledge is only in books and not in practice.
-The need for funding. This area raised a lot of controversy and I prefer to have a different approach on it. Funding could be directed into real children needs like the training of more bilingual teachers, more cross-cultural training on professional curriculum in every organizations.
-The wrong experts? Technically, only experts like pediatricians or child psychologists with adequate cross-cultural background training are equip to make any diagnosis on immigrants children development. Without this, a lot of parents would suffer medicating and over petting a child supposed to grow normally.
-Not considering parents views is a mistake. Piaget and the first children development experts based their theories on their children observations. A lot could be learn through parents who spend more time with their kids .
-Not considering the child past history. It could be interesting to track the child development back from the country he was born. This may help understand differences on immigrants children language development.
Watch the following video to have a better view and understanding of the accuracy of the challenge.
Share your experience if you faced the same situation as a parent, teacher, trainer or friend.
Hervé Boris Ngaté
What could be done…