To begin with “who is a late talker?
A late talker can be defined as a toddler between 30 months with less vocabulary for his or her age but is progressing normally otherwise.
Many times it is easy to assume that these children don’t need extra assistance since they seem to catch up on their own. However, research has shown otherwise.
20-30%of late talkers don’t outgrow their language delay.
These children need intervention since they have ongoing difficulties in language and literacy skills. These late talkers may be discovered to have a language disorder.
70-80% of late talkers appear to catch up with their peers by the time they are of school age.
These children can be referred to as late bloomers since they catch up with their peers. However, when their general language is tested, they score average. Besides, research indicates that there are difficulties we should not ignore.
Some of the weaknesses in late talkers as they catch up include:
How the brain processes speech– late talkers between 3-5years, who had late talking history don’t process the speech easily as others do. What this means, they have immature or less developed speech processing skills. This can interfere with their literacy and language development.
Some literacy and language skills– include grammar, vocabulary phonology (sound rules in language), writing, reading, understanding and creating stories, and listening comprehension.
These subtle weaknesses can be sustained until adolescence.
Skills related to language– this refers to the skills that rely on language for instance; behavior, social skills, and executive functions skills like paying attention, playing, organizing, and impulsive behavior control.
Although these differences seem small, later bloomers work at a disadvantage when developing literacy skills and language.
What You Can do to Help Late Talkers Talk
You can make a difference by helping late talkers as early as possible. Early language intervention, boosts the chances of long term language success, literacy, and other essential areas. However, many risk factors can lead to ongoing difficulties. But early intervention help reduces them significantly.
As a parent, there are some interventions you can do to help your child with talking difficulties;
Sometimes parents may get comfortable since research has shown that late talking can be a stage, and decide to “wait and see”. Unluckily if your child is among the 20-30% facing developmental delays or other serious diagnoses, you miss out on early intervention therapy during the most ideal time.
However, if your child is not speaking at 18months, it’s advisable to visit your pediatrician for a hearing examination and rule out any physical causes. Afterward, you can also visit a speech-language pathologist for more examination.
Get a Different Diagnosis- Not Confirmatory Diagnosis
Speech-language pathologists want to get a differential diagnosis and not a confirmatory diagnosis. Meaning, some clinicians assume that there might be a problem when a child talks late. Hence they conduct a test to confirm their assumptions.
However, for about 20-30% of children who delayed talking is as a result of a larger problem, diagnosis includes;
- Hearing problem
- Fragile X syndrome
- Specific intellectual disability
- Pronunciation related speech disorder
- Expansive language disorder
Early Diagnosis Acceptance
Late talkers are known to be notorious for failing to do things that don’t interest them, making diagnosing them to be a bit difficult. This is why experts recommend a repeated evaluation to gauge their actual ability.
However, it may take some parents years to get their child’s proper diagnosis. All this is worthy since a false diagnosis can be worse than a lack of diagnosis. Why? Different issues are addressed differently. For instance, the approach to autism is very different with late talkers.
Target Word Program
This program is meant for late talker parents to learn how to improve their child’s communication skills. As a parent, you should select 10 words of interest for your child and learn how to repeat and stress the words naturally while interacting with your child.
So, by following your child’s leads, give them the words that match your messages, while creating situations in which your child will pay attention to the words and try to repeat them. This program has proved to be very helpful to late talkers, in using more words and short phrases.
Usually, it is advisable to start by taking developmental tests to customize the plan according to your child’s needs. Since strategies are different both for late talkers and those with extreme language delays.
Interestingly, in research “it takes two to Talk”, parents can take part in their children’s therapy programs for best results. Because, therapy for late talking toddlers does not involve treatment, but requires parents’ support and guidance. A conducted study showed that children who were involved in it take two to talk program started to talk, and advanced to using short sentences faster, unlike their counterparts who attended therapy on their own.
Take Your Child to a Special School
The most important thing you can do to your child takes him or her to a school that fits them as individuals. This ensures they get the best chances in life.
Late talkers with rare gifts
Not all late talkers have autism or other long-life consequences. Einstein syndrome is used to explain children who are late talkers and do not have autism, cognition, hearing, or motor problem. There are several known people under this problem but Albert Einstein was the most famous.
However, not all children with Einstein syndrome become famous. But whatever their levels of prominence or achievement, they have a remarkable ability pattern in math, music, and memory according to UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute professor.
It is important to note that late talking is a characteristic and not a disorder by its self. Elaine Weitzman a speech-language pathologist says that there is a great chance for early interventions when the child is very young. While “a wait and see” approach delays treatment that can be very helpful to a child who needs it. In addition, he also says that if a child is late in his or her language development, parents will not regret not acting early, but they might regret acting late.