Speech/language and social delays...your opinion please?! - FamilyEducation
Speech/language and social delays...your opinion please?!
08/12/2007 at 10:26 AM

I have an almost 3 and a half year old son who has some form of a speech and language delay. 6 months ago he barely put together 2-3 words at a time, and as a result was extremely uncomfortable and mostly anti-social with the kids at his school. I have a special ed. teacher who is working with him 2 days a week (one hour each time) to help him focus better (circle time is a challege) and gain better social skills. It has definitely helped. My son has also started speech therapy and his therapist recently commented to me about my son's problems with "pragmatics". This is definitely an area of difficulty for him. It's very hard for him to sustain any kind of conversation and he tends to get a bit off topic. The kids at his school see this and I think they just get bored with him after a bit and walk away. It breaks my heart! He is no longer "anti-social". In fact, he's a bit too social in my opinion! He wants to talk to everyone and I've started to explain to him that it's not good to talk to strangers. Besides his speech/language concerns and slightly "off" social skills, there are no other major concerns. Still, because his problems lie in the speech and social aspects, I keep having concerns of some form or autism? From everything I have read and researched on the internet, it seems these two deficit areas in itself will place a child somewhere on the spectrum. My question: is it at all possible to have language and social awkwardness and NOT be on the spectrum? Has anyone else gone through something similar with their child? What was their final diagnosis. I'm scheduled to see a ped. Neurologist this week and I'm worried. Thanks to all who reply. 

  1. my son had the same delays and difficulty with pragmatics.  he was recently diagnosed with aspergers's syndrom.  took a long time to finally get diagnosed (he was 5)

My youngest son is my greatest gift, he teaches me about life and keeping an opened mind. He did not talk until age four and then had a perfound studder. He worked through that and has wonderful speach, uses big words and loves his friends. However, it has been a journey. There have been ups and downs. As a single parent attending school fulltime at university I spent hours with the school working towards getting him the services he needed (he is the youngest of three boys and has a younger sister). At times the other children felt left out and I would have to look at what could be added to their lives to help them feel loved and wanted. I digress. I suggest simply this, enjoy your child and his differences and help him to work on his "pragmatics" or social skills. and expect the world and love him for who he truly is. He is like my son, a gift.


Concerning Asperger's...from everything I have read, there is apparently no speech delays involved with children who have asperger's. They develope speech at or above the same level as their peers. I'm surprised at 5 years old and having had a speech delay, your son was diagnosed as having Asperger's. 


By now you have met with the neurologist and hopefully have a diagnosis.  I would like to know what you found out.  I expressed concerns to a pediatrician when my child was two.  (mothers just know when "something" isn't right) Six months later she finally told me if I was that concerned to contact the Speech and Hearing Clinic, Auburn University at Montgomery.  Long story short, 12 years later, we are still here, still learning, teaching, advocating and fighting for her rights to an education. 

Don't let the term "autism" scare you. Did you know ADHD is considered "on the spectrum"?  I didn't until about six months ago. It is not the horrific diagnosis we automatically think of, i.e., "Rainman", or the child who sits, rocking and staring into space, avoiding eye contact, etc.  During an evaluation for "THE" elite pre-school in our city, the most encouraging comment made by the psychologist was "above average eye contact".  Needless to say she didn't "make the cut", but it set us on a path I believed impossible to endure.  Today, I can't imagine life any other way. Easy, no.  Fulfilling, yes. While I would not wish this on any child, parent or family I wouldn't change anything about the beautiful, loving, thoughtful and considerate child I am proud to call mine.

If you have any questions I would be happy to discuss this with you. 

Mary Leigh


I have 14 year old with Asperger's and ADHD. He was diagnosed with ADHD in the 1st grade.  I knew something was wrong socially at that time and mentioned it to his teacher and his pediatrician--but got nowhere. While setting up his IEP in the sixth grade, he was diagnosed with Asperger's.  I had never heard of it before.  I tried signing him up for social training groups  with his therapist, but they never had enough signed up.  So, I went to the school and they did what they could with his social skills and said he knows what to do in certain situations.  A behavioral specialist said that they (Asperger's) tend to find their social group in high school and to not worry.  While in the 8th grade, he did make a good friend in his resource room, but he is a grade lower so now that my son is in high school, they don't get to see each other as much as they'd like.  I still worry about him being a loner.  Have I done everything I can?  Am I too late to do anything more?  Do you have any advise for me?  How's your child doing?  Thanks for your time in reading my message.  I appreciate any thoughts on it. 


If he is recieving services he should have had a speech and language evaluation, what were the results and reccomendations?

Yes it is possible to have language and social issues and not be on the Autistic spectrum, but that is for a prefessional to diagnose.

Rather than focusing on the diagnosis, focus on his strengths and needs so that he is able to function to the best of his ability, by getting the services he needs early.


as a treating speech pathologist i think chriscnaz says it best--we don't treat a diagnosis we treat the indivual child.  it really could just be a linguistic processing delay or trouble with expressive language which can be eradicated with therapy.  in my on line research i have stumbled upon a website that might be very helpful www.therapyscoop.com ...also, there are some helpful articles on the organization that accredits speech pathologists www.asha.org.  best of luck.


My son suffers from a verbal processing difficulty - he also said only a handful of words as a toddler/preschooler.  He spent many years in special education under various reasonings (developemental delay, speech delay, other health impairments, a very large gap between his IQ and his progress, etc.) When I began working in a school, I emailed one of my coworkers for suggestions.  She suggested to have him tested by a neuropsychologist.  I had never heard of such a person, but it was the best advice that I've ever received!!  My only wish is that he had been younger when he was tested by the neuropsychologist.  He was 15 years old by the time he was seen.  The doctor said that it was too bad that he hadn't come in earlier - when very young, they can sometimes "retrain" the way the brain works.  His reading level is 3rd grade and we were told that continued reading practice at age 15 was futile, at best.

I don't know if this will help your child but it might be worth looking into.  Also, I believe that if the school suggests it, they are responsible for paying for this testing instead of your insurance.  Because of that, most schools will not bring it up (education costs/ not enough funding).

Hope this helps,



My son, 3 1/2, has a lot of similarities to the descriptor above. However, he doesn't show lots of interest in having friends.

We've been trying to figure out what is up with our boy since he was tiny, and we've seen ten tons of docs. The closest we get to solid information is being told he has "an unusual constellation of issues." Some tell us what he does NOT have. When he was two, one specialist said he did not have autism, but we are starting to think he fits in the spectrum. He actually talks quite a bit, but has terrible trouble with pragmatics. I'm very eager to chat with anyone who has similar stories to swap. We meet with a NEW developmental pediatrician next month...




I just joined as a new member, and I'm so happy to have the opportunity to share my story as well as offer advice to others who are going through similar experiences.  I have a 4 yr old who is currently enrolled in a social group through our local hospital.  It's main focus is on working w/ children who have Semantic-Pragmatic disorder.  Although my son doesn't have this disorder, we enrolled him in the class anyway to help him learn how to better communicate w/ others and to enhance his social abilities.  He is a very friendly child, but in his case, he doesn't talk much in social settings.  It's almost like his language difficulties make it awkward for him to interact w/ others, although he does try.  As far as your question about speech/language and social skill difficulties being linked to autism, I wouldn't worry.  Not all children w/ speech/language and social problems have autism or are on the spectrum.  At first, that was my biggest concern too.  But after seeing a Developmental Pediatrician and also getting a speech eval, the professionals were able to quickly rule out autism.  My son has some form of a processing disorder, so it takes him so much longer to process new info, ask and answer questions and act appropriately in social situations.  But according to his therapists, he is not on the spectrum, not even at the highly functioning end.  It's difficult, I know, to see your child struggle, but my suggestion to you is to see a Developmental Pediatrician or Pediatric Neurologist (like you said) to rule out any major issues, like autism.  Also, consider a social group in your local community.  I hope this advice helps, and I wish you the best of luck w/ everything.

Sincerely, concerned mom


What was the result of your ped neurologist vist. My son as similar charcteristics...

I know this is a old message board but I pray someone can help.. My son 3 was diagnosed with a "general environmental delay" with a Moderate risk of autism Anyone know of any friendly books/ movies that would appropriately explain what is going on to a 6 year old?