The following excerpt is taken from Chapter Six of Pervasive Developmental Disorders: Finding a Diagnosis and Getting Help by Mitzi Waltz, copyright 1999 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. For book orders/information, call (800) 998-9938. Permission is granted to print and distribute this excerpt for noncommercial use as long as the above source is included. The information in this article is meant to educate and should not be used as an alternative for professional medical care.
There is a strong link between speech problems and distressing behavior, as many parents can attest. The frustration of not being understood can build up to produce tantrums. It makes a person feel isolated, and it can make them more vulnerable to abuse.
Interestingly, poor communication abilities are cited by social scientists as one of the three factors most likely to lead to violent behavior in children, adolescents, or adults (the other two: male gender and abuse). Case studies of autistic-spectrum disorders have shown that the development of speech correlates strongly with better outcomes.
Don't let these facts frighten you--let them motivate you. Don't let anyone tell you that a person is too old for speech therapy, unable to behave well enough to benefit from speech therapy, not intelligent enough for speech therapy, or simply a "late talker." Communication is the key to everything else.
When a child is experiencing behavior problems, communication problems are often at the root. It should be the first area addressed when searching for a solution. Behavior is communication, and for those who have difficulty expressing themselves with words, it can be the only form of communication available. We need to pay attention.