Mother: “My son, who is almost 4 years old, has a language development disorder (TOS). Signals in the brain do not reach the mouth well. I reach him better if I say something very succinctly to him. For example, when we just got a cat and he wanted to pick it up: ‘No! Baby kitty, stay off, sleep late.” I must avoid overloading him with an excess of words. I also always invite him to say something correctly. He’s a friendly, sociable boy but if he doesn’t get his words out, he snaps shut and becomes a pathetic little mouse. Contemporaries drop out. A lot of time is spent in his supervision, and I’m afraid that his brother, who is almost 2 years old, will fall short. That is a precocious child that develops quickly. He also has an 18-year-old sister who was an only child for 14 years. I am a single mother without a big safety net. How do I make my kids blossom based on their own personalities? How do I give them the same amount?”
Keep talking normally
Ellen Gerrits: “Children with a developmental language disorder (TOS) have difficulty speaking and understanding what someone is saying despite normal intelligence. As a parent, you tend to simplify your language, for example by using short sentences and talking less. But actually it helps children with TOS especially if you keep chatting with them normally. About toys, daily activities such as dressing and eating, and visiting friends or family. That is best in longer sentences. Your child gets the chunks from it that are necessary for his own language development. For example, if your child is playing with a car: ‘What a beautiful car! Where are you going? Does it go to grandma? And I see that Grandpa also wants to ride with us…’ Your youngest child also benefits from this.
“A child with TOS often needs some extra time to respond, so don’t be afraid to wait and be quiet. If either guy says something wrong, it’s most effective to use the correct words and order in your answer, and not correct them. Fortunately, when it comes to language, you don’t have to split your attention at home.”
Liesbeth Groenhuijsen: „When a child needs extra care, it is sometimes difficult for parents to ‘just’ remain the parent, and not to become a care provider. Despite the diagnosis, it will of course remain one of your children. Make the mutual difference by not making such a label too large.
“Siblings growing up with a child who needs extra attention shouldn’t be bothered by it, as long as you clearly explain why that is, and that it doesn’t mean they aren’t nice. Can you plan a time each week with all three of your children to do something special for this child?
“You have a lot on your shoulders. Is it possible for you to invest in a somewhat larger network, someone who can help you with, for example, an hour of practice with your middle one twice a week? Try to find one or more people to talk to. I think it is important for you to have a sounding board.”