Does your son or daughter have some kind of a communication disorder you might not be aware of?

A new study finds parents are generally not aware of the early warning signs of communication disorders in their children.

“Communication disorders include problems with understanding, speaking, reading and writing,” says Diane Paul, the director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

“The ability to communicate effectively is really the essence of what makes us human and it’s also a human right, so if there are problems they need to be addressed.”

She notes communication problems are among the most common childhood disabilities.

“11 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 6 years have a speech, language, voice or swallowing disorder, and almost 15 percent of school aged children have some degree of hearing loss,” she says.

The earlier that parents seek treatment for their kids, the better.

She says some signs of a speech or language disorder are very early on, from birth, if the child does not smile or interact with others. Between about 4 and 7 months, if the child doesn’t babble at all. And between 7 and 12 months if they make only a few sounds or gestures.

Later on, it's concerning if a child between 7 months and 2 years old does not understand what people say, or if they can only say a few words between 12 and 18 months.

“Parents should really trust their instincts, be aware of these signs and take action and get treatment early if children are having problems," she said. "Don’t wait and hope a child will outgrow the problem.”

She notes parents can seek help from a speech pathologist or an audiologist for a hearing disorder. They can find these professionals through the public school system or at identifythesigns.org.

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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com