Most individuals diagnosed with EBF3 HADDS have speech delays and other speech issues. Thus far, it is clear that most individuals diagnosed with HADDS do eventually communicate with spoken language, while a small percentage never gain spoken language skills. Thankfully, however, there are other ways to communicate besides the spoken word.
A good number of children with HADDS make huge improvements and begin talking at ages 3-5. And across the board it seems that receptive language is considerably higher than expressive language; meaning that the child/ person with HADDS understands way more than he is able to express/ say. For this reason, it is important to avoid baby talk and over-simplifying our language when we talk with our loved one. Rich, mature speech will help lay the groundwork for language development, regardless of whether or not our loved one ever gains spoken language.
Speech therapy and early intervention are also key to language growth in children with HADDS. Speech therapy early and often seems to be the best; although there is definitely such thing as too much therapy. If all of the therapy sessions result in our child not having playdates or not being in class or not having downtime to be a kid and play, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate if that much therapy is best for our child.
Reading to our child with HADDS is also very important for language growth. Reading aloud exposes our children to rich language and to vocabulary they would not usually hear or use. Even reading the same favorite picture book over and over and over has great value and benefit so keep reading! Keep in mind even if your child does not sit still and listen attentively, she is still getting exposed to that language so keep reading.
Lastly, using different forms of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) offers language support for children with HADDS while their spoken language is developing. Individuals benefit from using sign language, pictures (PECS), and voice output devices. While in the past it was believed that AAC use slowed spoken language development in individuals who would eventually speak, research now clearly shows that AAC use is beneficial to individuals with speech delay. Plus using AAC helps lessen frustration when the child/ person attempts to communicate Parents can seek advice from a speech therapist who is well-versed in AAC and can also do their own internet research to find many resources for their child or loved one.