Suspected Delays and Identified Disabilities

Little kid being pushed by his momWhen thinking about adults' interactions with children with disabilities or suspected delays, it is important to remember that children's behaviors and interactions with others may look a little different than those of their typically developing peers. Some children may need more time to interact, so it's important to wait for them to respond. For example, a preschool child with symptoms of auditory processing disorder may need to have directions repeated several times because he has trouble processing what he hears and remembering information when it is presented orally.1 Adults may have to observe more closely to see children's responses, depending on the nature of the delay or disability. These responses may be as subtle as a change in facial expression, body language, posture, or eye gaze direction. A child may also use gestures, such as pointing or vocalizations, to communicate.

It takes time, patience, and focus to observe, understand, and interpret children's methods of interacting and responding. Conversations with children's parents, family members, and others who know the children (e.g., early intervention specialists, therapists, mental health professionals) can provide important perspectives and context for children's behaviors and what they mean. In turn, this information informs effective and appropriate adult responses.

1 Miller, Caroline, Signs a Child Might Have Auditory Processing Disorder (New York: Child Mind Institute, n.d.).