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“Yeah nah” Here are our top tips for when you should get a communication assessment for your teen

Updated: Feb 4

We’ve all had the shoulder shrug or that dreaded ‘look’ your teen gives you that screams "you’re sooo not cool". We’ve all been there when we’ve had to tell our son 400 billion times to unpack the dishwasher or when you ask him to get milk from the shops and he comes back with bananas and a bemused look. You feel frustrated and think ‘he's not a bad kid, why wont he just listen?!’.

And yes, maybe that's true. Maybe he doesn’t know how to listen effectively, maybe he’s overwhelmed or maybe there’s something else going on.

If you’ve ever wondered if its more than just ‘laziness’ or something more- you’ve come to the right place!

Challenges with expressing and processing language (words) is common and does not discriminate by gender, age, or culture.

The older a person gets, typically the harder it is to pick it up and many children (and indeed teenagers) either get misdiagnosed or branded as ‘naughty’ or simply parents say, ‘they just don’t listen’ or ‘they have ADHD’. The truth could be that your child IS listening, they are just not understanding or not being able to hold it in mind long enough to follow through. Or it could mean your child doesn't have the words to accurately and adequately express themself.

So when should you get a communication assessment with a speech pathologist?

You should get an assessment with a speech pathologist for your teen if they have trouble with a number of the following skills:

Red flags for language difficulties in adolescents

  • Takes a long time to answer

  • Responses don’t fit with your last question or comment

  • Difficulties following instructions/directions

  • Often uses yes/no/ dunno answers

  • Needs lots of repetition

  • May seem forgetful, seems to lose concentration

  • Doesn’t get jokes or sarcasm- seems very literal

  • Misunderstands conversations/ideas

  • Fails to understands the links between events and consequences

  • Doesn’t say much, difficult to engage or doesn’t initiate

  • Speaks in short sentences or simple sentence structure (then…and then…)

  • Use non-specific words “stuff”, “thing”.

  • Uses incorrect grammar

  • Says a lot but confusing or vague, you need to ask questions to understand

  • Leaves out important information, mixes up sequence

  • Speaking is disjointed – lots of pauses or repetitions

  • Sounds immature

  • Difficulties talking about feelings beyond the basics

  • Difficulties giving instructions or directions

Social Skills
  • Has few friends

  • Struggles to make OR keep friends

  • Has challenges seeing others points of view

  • Bullies/is bullied

  • Has drama with friends and doesn’t know how to solve appropriately

  • Avoids social situations or mixing with others

  • Interacts much better with older people (adults) or younger children

  • Difficulties negotiating with peers or asserting self

Academic Concerns
  • Has difficulties learning new skills

  • Has below average grades in some areas or identified learning difficulties

  • Has reading problems

  • School refusal/anxiety/truancy

  • Teachers report behavioural difficulties in classroom or ‘class clown’

  • Child says “I hate school”

  • Had delayed language development (first words after 18 months)

  • Had recurrent middle ear infections or has a hearing impairment

  • Has had prior speech pathology intervention when younger

  • Has a congenital/Genetic disorder

  • There is a family history of language or learning difficulties (diagnosed or not)

  • Experienced a traumatic event as a child

Chances are, if your child has some of the symptoms listed above, you have already been making adjustments to your own communication and the way you interact with them.

As we tell parents, knowledge is power. If you noticed challenges in these areas, consult a speech pathologist for assistance.

Click here to make an enquiry or book an appointment at Peter Habit Speech Pathology.
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