Skills We Take for Granted

By Leslie A. Burby


What are cognitive skills, adaptive behavior, and receptive language? To be honest, they are skills and behaviors that most people take for granted.  However, a lack in these skills can be a signal or warning sign to a bigger problem, like a specific learning disability.  Really everyone should take a minute to learn what each means.  If you know of someone that has a delayed child, please be careful as to how you approach the subject with them.  It is extremely hard to hear that there could be something wrong or a delay in your child.  (Trust me, I know.)  You might just want to kindly suggest they read the blog or visit the Birth-to-3 Program website to get a free evaluation for their child.  I mean everyone likes FREE, right?

Cognitive skills are the more well known of the 3 areas that I will be writing about in this post.

“Cognition is a group of mental processes that includes attention, memory, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions.”

Cognitive skills for toddlers include:

·         Ability to explore and interact with toys

·         Perceptual Development (to notice a difference in objects)

·         Memory (to retrieve information)

·         Problem solving (to understand features of objects and their relationships)

Adaptive Behavior                                                                                       

Adaptive behavior refers to the independent skills that people need to execute everyday tasks.

For toddlers (ages 1 -3) and young children this includes:

·         Attention span (can they sit still on your lap)

·         Eating (do they eat well)

·         Sleeping (do they sleep through the night)

·         Dressing (do they help stick their arms through the shirt hole, etc.)

·         Safety (are they aware of dangers)

·         Toileting Skills (do they lie still to be changed; is potty training not going well)


Receptive Language/ Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)/ Aphasia

Receptive Language is the ability to interpret and process spoken language.  It is also known as Auditory Processing Disorder, Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), Aphasia, or Comprehension Deficit.

For toddlers – teens this includes:

·         Looking at a person or object when you say the word

o   (ie. Where’s mommy? Where’s the baba? And looks at it.)

·         Difficulty understanding and following directions

·         Struggles with longer complex sentences

·         Has trouble understanding figurative and literal language

·         Often Avoids answering questions –

o    Says, “I don’t know” or “I forget”

o   Ignores the question all together

o   Shakes head yes or no

o   Repeats the last couple words of the question but doesn’t answer

For a more in depth explanation of receptive and expressive language I recommend reading this article:

Works Cited:

CT Birth to Three Program

Battelle Developmental Inventory -2



Leslie A. Burby is the mom of three young children (ages 2-6), an author, a public-speaker and the Editor of Autism Parenting Magazine. She worked for many years running a statewide tutoring company for children with learning disabilities and as a special education tutor before having her own children. Now Leslie Burby spends her days advocating for special education rights, and providing resources to parents to help their child/ren get the services that they need. In addition, she writes on autism related issues based on the belief that with knowledge comes understanding and with understanding comes acceptance.  She hopes to spread knowledge and answers of autism in hopes to increase acceptance of all that it entails. To get one free copy of the magazine go to and enter your email. To buy her book Emotional Mastery for Adults with Aspergers visit

The first book of her children’s series will be out this fall entitled Grace Figures Out School.

To read more check out Books, Blogs, and Burby at

For questions, book signings or speaking engagements email Leslie at