Is my child a “late talker”?

If you’ve noticed that your child isn’t reaching speech and language milestones at the same pace as their peers, you might be wondering if they’re a “late talker.” Before anxiety sets in, it’s important to grasp what being a “late talker” entails.

A “late talker” refers to a child who shows typical development in motor, cognitive, and social skills but exhibits a delay in language development. This might manifest as a limited vocabulary or not combining words as one would expect for their age.

The reasons behind late talking can vary. Some children may naturally start speaking later, while others might have a family history of delayed language development. Occasionally, the cause might not be identifiable, which understandably can be a source of worry for parents.

What steps should you take if you suspect your child is a late talker?

First and foremost, remain calm. Many children identified as late talkers catch up to their peers by the time they enter school, often without the need for intervention. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep an eye on their development and seek professional advice if concerns persist.

Key indicators to watch for include:

  • By age 2, using fewer than 50 words
  • By age 2, not forming word combinations
  • Difficulty imitating sounds and words
  • Not engaging in play skills appropriate for their age

If these signs are present, consulting with a speech-language pathologist is advisable. They can evaluate your child’s language abilities and recommend specific strategies or interventions.

At Sherwood Park Speech Therapy, our team of dedicated speech-language pathologists is equipped to assist you and your child. Seeking help is a proactive step towards supporting your child’s development. Remember, it’s perfectly alright to ask for assistance – doing so is one of the most supportive actions you can take for your child’s growth.

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Paul, R. (1991). Profiles of toddlers with slow expressive language development. Topics in Language Disorders, 11(4), 1-13.

Paul, R., & Norbury, C. (2012). Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Communicating (4th ed.). Mosby.