If your child has been recommended for Brecksville early intervention services, either due to developmental delays or a diagnosis of a condition like autism, Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy, odds are you’ve heard the term “neuroplasticity.”
That’s a somewhat intimidating word, but the concept is fairly straightforward – and important to understand if you’re considering the value of early intervention services, which are initiated before a child’s 5th birthday, or sooner if possible.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change – to relearn, rewire, establish and strengthen important connections. If the brain is injured or developing atypically, neurons can be damaged, altered, or lost. The good news is that the brain can establish new pathways. There is a brief window of time with young children where the brain’s ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections – especially in response to learning or experience – is especially effective. This is called neuroplasticity.
Children’s minds are like little sponges, absorbing everything around them. It’s what gives them the “superpower” of learning the fundamentals of movement, language and basic independence (walking, talking, feeding, etc.) in just a few short years. If a child has a developmental delay or a condition that has made reaching typical developmental milestones challenging, intervening early with services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy, and physical therapy allows us to leverage a child’s natural neuroplasticity to help their brains create and reinforce new neural pathways that allow them to glean new skills, habits, and ways of thinking.
A baby’s first-year milestones are often met with much anticipation and joy – including recognizing their own name. But what if it sees they don’t by the time they should? How much does it matter? When is it time to seek help from a Brecksville speech therapy center?
Understanding language that is being spoken is a skill speech therapists refer to as “receptive language.” (Ensuring others can understand what you’re saying is what we call expressive language skills.)
It’s important to point out first of all that babies develop at their own pace. Delayed language development isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. However, it is something you want to watch for two main reasons:
- It could be an indicator of a more significant problem.
- The earlier you seek intervention for speech and language delays, the less of a negative impact it will have on your child’s long-term growth and development.
When Should My Child Respond to His or Her Name?
The milestone of responding to one’s own name usually occurs between 4 and 9 months, according to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). Not all babies reach this milestone at the same time, of course, but most should be appearing to recognize their name with consistency between the ages of 7 and 9 months.
If you have concerns, these should definitely be raised firstly with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor can refer you for an evaluation of services with a speech therapist and other early interventions.
Some indicators that your baby knows their name:
- Your baby makes eye contact with you when you’re speaking. Babies do this long before they are capable of knowing their names. If they aren’t doing this fairly early on, it could be cause for concern.
- Your baby turns to look at you, makes a sound, or has some obvious reaction when their name is said. This should occur with some consistency.
Keep in mind your child’s age. If they’re only 5-months-old, it may not be cause for worry. However, if they’re 9- or 10-months-old and you aren’t seeing flickers of recognition, it’s time to talk to the doctor.
What Can I Do to Help My Child Recognize Their Name?
While you should voice concerns with your physician and seek a full Brecksville speech therapy evaluation, there are some things you can do in the meantime to work on this skill.
Our Northeast Ohio speech therapy team recommends:
- Repetition. When you’re playing with or talking to your child, use their name a lot. Address them directly, look right at them. Using their name regularly may help them to have that light bulb moment.
- Reduce distractions. If there’s a lot happening around your baby all the time, he or she may not be tuned in when you’re talking to them. Try talking to them in a room where it’s quiet and the atmosphere is calm. Play with them for a time, and then see if he/she responds to their name.
- Adjust your tone. Our speech-language pathologists will sometimes try adjusting our voice tone when we’re speaking to kids. We either make it sing-songy or an excited whisper or goofy; sometimes that can get an infant’s attention better than just a typical speaking voice.
- Use visual cues. Some children are very visual learners. Put together a simple, cute picture book with photographs of your child and your family. Point to the people and say their names. Make sure you slow down/spend extra time when it comes to his/her picture. Use their name and talk about their beautiful eyes, cute cheeks, shiny hair, and happy smile.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
More Blog Entries:
Signs Your Child Should See a Speech Therapist in Brecksville, Aug. 12, 2021,