Make Your Child Laugh: The Developmental Stages of Humor

Many children with special needs have problems with friendships. The problems can surround not understanding nonverbal communication, to not being able to identify emotions, to confusion over humor and more. One thing we know for sure is that a life without friendships and human connections is a very lonely life.

Humor is Good Among Friends
Humor is something that can bring two people together. Laughter signifies that people are having fun and is good for a healthy relationship. Sharing jokes and funny stories provides a connection between two people.

Problems When Humor is Misunderstood
Children love to laugh. But children with special needs such as autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, etc. often take things quite literally. This results in them missing a joke or the humor in a situation. If a child can’t share laughter with a group, then she is missing a part of the bonding that occurs and this affects the development of friendships.

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Danette Schott, M.A. About Danette Schott, M.A.

Using her research background, Danette founded S-O-S Research to provide information on "invisible" special needs to parents, teachers, and other professionals. Currently she is Executive Editor at Special-Ism, focusing on the challenges or the -Isms experienced by children with various special needs, such as high functioning autism, ADHD, anxiety, mental illness, and Sensory Processing Disorder.

  • Barbara

    Very nice, Danette! Humor as a developmental *cognitive* skill is seldom noted.

  • http:/// Danette

    Thanks, Barbara! I did many of these activities with my daughter when she 4 and 5. They were beneficial on a number of different levels.

  • Jackie

    great article. I like the examples you provide with the ages. My kids are almost 1, 2.5, and 5 so it is neat to think about their sense of humor from a development POV. We love reading the back of laffy taffy’s with our 5 year old. He thinks they are funny even though he doesn’t always “get” them. And my almost 1 year old thinks it is hilarious when I pretend to drink from her bottle. Then there is the 2.5 year old…. bathroom jokes all the way. :)

  • http:/// Danette

    Thanks for bringing in the real life examples with your kids!

  • Six

    You have submitted to my carnival before…would you submitt this one? (CHAOS)
    I like this as it is truly for all of us. Some of my best childhood memories are of at the dinner table telling jokes and funny stories. My younger brother always had a tale of what his invisible friend JOE HABAR did that day. Now as a MOM I feel joy and relief when I see and hear mine laughing.

  • martha

    Just want to say thanks for this great information. This is kind of a thing I was looking for. Thanks Yahoo

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  • Rhonda Banford

    This is a great article! Can you please point me towards any references for these ages? I have looked in the past and was unable to come up with any. Thanks!

  • Rachel Arntson

    Hello Danette,

    I was very happy to see your article. I will be doing a poster session at ASHA this year entitled, “Laughter and Learning – Let’s Get Serious About This.” I believe so strongly in the power of laughter with my young students, birth to three, but this key skill continues well beyond toddlers. If it is OK, I will refer to your article.

  • http:/// Danette Schott, M.A.

    Rachel, I would be honored. Thank you!

  • http:/// Danette Schott, M.A.

    Rhonda, thanks so much for the comment. As info on the web grows, it becomes harder to find what we need. There’s a good chart by age created by Dr. Kelley from Texas Tech University. . Kids Health also provides a very easy-to-read article on this topic.

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  • mylindaelliott

    I remember working on teaching my child that things were funny… And then professionals saying she didn’t have autism because she understood humor!?