Are Late Talkers Less Intelligent?

Talking is one of the most significant milestones in your child’s development and growth.

More so, getting to hear your child talk is the most magical moment in parenthood. However, when a toddler shows signs of delayed or limited speech and vocabulary most times becomes a concern to parents.

Speech delays vary in severity from not talking at all to difficulty in word pronunciation or having trouble constructing sentences.

are late talkers less intelligent?

The most disheartening thing is when people assume that speech and language delay, will have a long-term negative effect on a child’s performance in school and beyond.

Fortunately, this is proved otherwise by a lesser-known Einstein syndrome.

Einstein syndrome refers to children who experience late language onset but are gifted in other analytical thinking areas. A child with this condition, eventually speaks and remains ahead in other areas. Again, the delay in speaking onset may show symptoms of long-lasting and much deeper problems; like mental retardation or autism.

In this article, you will learn possible reasons for delayed talking. Also, we will discuss the relationship between late talking and intelligence.

Reasons Why a Child Would Be Late in Talking

Some of the reasons why a child maybe a late talker.

  1. Developmental stage

Late talking in most toddlers maybe simply a developmental stage they are passing through. This may not indicate any adverse consequences. Most probably after a child has passed this developmental stage, parents may never remember about their anxiety and worry at this stage.

Most late talkers are not intelligent. However, some well-known bright people like Albert Einstein experienced delayed talking. Several times, people with intelligent verbal abilities may be less skilled in mathematics and engineering. So, there is nothing wrong with highly skilled people in analytical abilities being late talkers. Many times these people are less skilled in regards to language ability.

It is important to note that, no parent should automatically assume their delayed speech child is a genius. Besides, nobody should try to hinder the children’s intellectual gifts nurturing. Additionally, signs of analytical and high intelligence should not be held against late talking children.

  1. Autism

Many children with autism experience delayed speech. However, not all children with delayed speech have autism. Children with autism, speech delay many times occur with other communication issues;

  • Delay or failure to respond to verbal attempts like their names to gain their attention
  • Delayed language development pace
  • Slow or failed gesture development like showing or pointing things to others
  • Babble and Coo in their first birth year but then stop later
  • Communicate using their own sign language or communicate using pictures
  • Repeating one phrase over and over or speaking in a single word, also they may be unable to combine words into meaningful sentences
  • Use words that seem out of place, odd, or have a special meaning. These words may only be known to those familiar with the child

Research has shown that people with autism have difficulty moving or speaking. In addition, they do poorly in standard intelligence tests. However, some methods uncover their abilities and help you understand autism itself. 

Just like everyone autistic people have things they can do easily, while they struggle with others. So being autistic doesn’t mean you can’t have a job, make friends, or do other things. But you might need assistance with these things. This is so because autism is a spectrum; it is different for everyone. Besides, some autistic people need little to no help, while others need parent or caregiver help every day. 

Finally, people with autism can have any level of intelligence. Some people are above average, while others have average intelligence level. Moreover, some autistic people have learning disabilities. This means they need help with their daily life since they may find it difficult to look after themselves.

  1. Hearing loss

In many cases, children who lose their hearing abilities before they learn to speak may have delayed speech. This may lead them to lag behind their peers academically, and also in their communication skills. You should be concerned if your child shows signs of delayed speech, along with a tendency of not being concerned to look at objects when you mention or point at them. It’s good to take your child for a check-up early.

The beauty about it, hearing loss can be sometimes restored via minimal invasive surgery procedures. Other times, with the aid of a cochlear implant, children will be able to hear and speak. Your audiologist or SLP (speech language pathologists) should be able to guide you through an appropriate intervention strategy.

Fortunately, research has proved that early family-based interventions can aid your child catch up with their peers and enhance communication skills.

  1. Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy may experience speech delays. In this case, speech delay usually results due to lack of tongue and jaw muscles coordination. In addition, co-existing anomalies and hearing loss in cerebral palsy may also contribute to speech delay.

SLPs can help a child with cerebral palsy by introducing augmentative and alternative communication systems. With time your child may learn how to communicate using speech synthesizers and symbol charts.

However, although it may not be possible to improve speech in children with cerebral palsy, speech therapy can improve their language and communication skills. Many cases of cerebral palsy children have retarded memory growth and lack intelligence.

  1. Dysarthria

Dysarthria can manifest itself with speech delay in children. This physical problem manifests itself with mild, moderate to severe speech difficulties. A child with mild dysarthria may indicate slurred speech and also talk in a low-pitched voice. While extreme dysarthria may be characterized by the inability to produce any words.

However, speech-language therapy may not work for extremely severe dysarthria in children below 3years. But for mild symptoms speech therapy can be very beneficial.

In conclusion, delayed talking may be due to one of the above reasons or more. Luckily, children below 3years can recover without professional assistance. But, there is no sign to show which children will require SLPs interventions or not. If you notice the slightest unusual thing, consult an SLP for testing and evaluation early enough.

When speech delay is a result of life-long consequences it might impact a child’s intelligence affecting their learning and social interactions. While delayed developmental milestones might not always indicate less intelligence in children.