Some parents ask experts, “Is my child a late talker?” Some children learn to speak at a later age than others. By kindergarten, many late-talking children have caught up with their peers. But there’s more to it than that. This blog post takes an in-depth look at the speech sound development chart at various developmental stages.
Defining late talk: who is a late talker?
As they grow, almost all children go through the same speech and language development stages. SLPs (Speech-Language Pathologists) specializing in children’s speech and language disorders state that the range of “normal” for children is quite broad when they are learning and growing. It is understandable for parents to be concerned about their child’s speech and language development. On the other hand, an 18-month-old saying fewer than 50 words may be a late talker.
The average 24-month-old can learn around 300 words and use them to form concise sentences. As a result, you can expect your 2-year-old to say phrases like “more cookie” or “mommy walk.”
Speech delay in children should be taken seriously, and you should consult with your pediatrician to rule out any physiological causes of your child’s speech delay.
Read more: Speech Therapy for Kids
Is late-talking a genetic-related condition?
No studies provide a genetic basis for late-talking at the moment. However, experts agree that late talk tends to cluster in families. It is not uncommon for a late-talking child to have a late-talking parent, cousin, uncle, or grandparent. A late talker may even have a family member with a speech or language disorder.
Is speech delay a disorder?
“Speech delay’ occurs when a child fails to meet age-appropriate milestones on time. A speech delay is not a disorder. It can, however, be a sign or symptom of various conditions. Children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy (CP), Down syndrome, childhood apraxia of speech, aphasia, or hearing loss may have significant language delays. Over half of children with language and speech delays eventually catch up with their peers. Their speech and language skills may have leveled off when they entered kindergarten.
Nonetheless, the other half of the population is at risk of having language and speech problems for the rest of their lives. So, while speech delay isn’t always a disorder, it deserves the attention of SLPs, ENTs, and neurologists.
How can parents tell if a child is a late talker
When asked, “Is my child a late talker?” It isn’t easy to provide an objective answer. As a result, it is best to observe and record what your child says, how often they speak, and how well they understand your words.
You can compare your child’s speech and language development to the developmental milestones for their age. Use a trusted and verified source for reference.
Language Milestone in Children
A baby should be able to say their first words by 12 months. They should make long strings of sounds like ba-ba-ba or ma-ma-mama. They might even be able to say “dada,” “mama,” “dog,” or “bye.” However, there is no reason to worry if the sounds need to be clarified.
They should be able to use around 50 words by 18 months. Typically, 18-month-old children can say at least 20 words. Nouns (cookie, juice, ‘nana), verbs (go, eat), adjectives (cold, up), prepositions (up, down), and other words may be used (hi and bye).
Children should be able to combine two words to form short sentences by age two. Children as young as 24 months should be able to say the letters “p,” “w,” “b,” “h,” and “m.” Expect them to ask you questions like “where’s mommy?” and “who’s that?”
Children can understand and learn new words reasonably quickly by their third birthday. As a result, you can anticipate them using prepositions in their sentences. They should also be able to construct three and four-word sentences to describe objects and events and ask questions. They can also recognize opposites and follow two-part instructions.
Your child should be able to respond when called from another room, understand the names of some colors and shapes, and understand family words by age four. They should also be able to respond to basic questions such as “who,” “what,” and “where?”
A four-year-old should be able to use pronouns, pluralize words, and discuss what happened during the day. They should also be able to construct four-word sentences. Most of what they say should be understandable. As a result, a child who is not talking at the age of four should cause serious concern for all parents.
These are some speech and language milestones to consider when assessing your child’s speech and language development. If you are concerned that your child is a late bloomer, you can schedule a consultation with a speech therapist.
Common Causes of Speech Delay
Toddlers have a high rate of speech delay. Language delays in toddlers range from 2.3 percent to 19 percent. According to research, severe language delays in children can lead to difficulty reading in elementary school. During adolescence, some children struggle with attention and social skills.
Investigating the causes of speech delay in children can provide insight into why an otherwise active toddler who is not talking can be dangerous.
Disorders of expressive and receptive language
Expressive or receptive language disorders can cause direct speech delay. These disorders do not correct themselves. You will need to work with a speech-language pathologist to help your child’s speech-language development, whether they are a late bloomer due to expressive or receptive language disorder.
Children who lose hearing before learning to speak due to injuries or infections may experience severe speech delays. Medical interventions and therapy sessions can help compensate for speech and language deficits.
Delayed speech in children can indicate an intellectual disability. Intellectual disability can have one or more genetic causes (ID). Because ID is not curable, children who speak late because of ID usually benefit from speech therapy sessions with SLPs and special educators.
Developmental disorders and disabilities
A child’s speech delay can be caused by Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or fetal alcohol syndrome. This type of speech delay is called secondary by experts. To a limited extent, speech therapy can help a late-talker child with developmental disorders or disabilities.
Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty speaking. They may speak slowly and slurringly, making it difficult to understand them. Children with athetoid cerebral palsy have trouble controlling their facial and tongue muscles. Although cerebral palsy is a congenital and incurable condition, physical and speech therapy can help a child.
Epilepsy or seizure disorders
Epilepsy manifests itself in childhood. According to research, seizures may impair the function and development of the brain’s language areas. It is common in children with absent seizures or epilepsy on the left side of the brain.
Anomalies in the brain structure or function
Injury to the brain’s language centers in children can result in speech and language problems. While asphyxia is becoming less common as hospital births become more common, other issues, such as in-utero brain trauma and traumatic brain injuries after birth, can cause irreversible speech delays in toddlers.
Risk factors to watch for with late-talking children
For a variety of reasons, children can start talking late. Predicting who is more vulnerable to speech delays and language problems is often difficult. Parents concerned about their children’s speech delays should weigh the risks associated with delayed speech.
Is the child a twin?
According to research, twins are more likely to develop speech delays. A mix of social and biological factors is at work. Conversely, twins are likely to catch up to their singleton peers by the time they reach preschool age. It is valid only if the twins have no congenital or developmental disorders.
Is the child a late child
Severe speech delay in 2-year-olds has been linked to advanced maternal age. According to research, the mother’s advanced age at birth is not associated with morbidity or long-term neurodevelopmental impairment. These children usually respond well to early speech exercises at home and increased parental attention.
What’s their family’s socioeconomic status?
Multiple studies have found that a family’s socioeconomic status influences a child’s language development. A child from a lower socioeconomic background may have lower levels of language development and speech skills than a child of the same age from a higher socioeconomic background.
According to current research, a child’s language experience at home is the cause of their language difference. In the long run, exposing a child to new experiences, environments, and people from various socioeconomic backgrounds can help to compensate for the delay.
Is your child getting enough attention?
Parenting abilities play a minor role in a child’s speech and language development. However, we should not overlook the influence of parenting because it is highly controllable and adjustable.
Spending quality time with the child, talking to the child, and using gestures while talking about a person or object have all been shown in studies to influence the child’s speech and language development.
Promoting child-centered play, increasing home-based playtime between child and parent, and following the child’s lead during activities can all help to encourage positive interaction. It can also help to improve language skills.
Is there a history of late-talkers in the family?
Although no genetic basis exists for speech delay, research has shown that family history can influence speech and language development. There is an increased risk that the child will be a late talker if there is a record of the child’s parent(s), grandparent(s), uncle(s), aunt(s), or cousin(s) talking late.
Parents often ask, “Can a child with speech delays catch up with other children?” Unless they have neurodevelopmental disorders, congenital disorders, or other disorders that affect their speech-motor system, they likely will.
Even if your child has a healthy and neurotypical relative who was a late bloomer, having them checked out by a pediatrician, ENT, and SLP is prudent.
When is the appropriate time to seek help?
When a child is two years old, parents and caregivers should understand at least half what they say. Almost everyone should understand the child’s speech by the fourth birthday.
If you’re wondering, “Why isn’t my four-year-old talking?” or “Why is his/her speech still incomprehensible?” Then you and your child should see a specialist.
It is easier to predict whether your child will catch up to their peers if you can determine the cause of the speech delay. If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, it is best to consult an SLP.
Early intervention can help your child improve their speech and language skills. Detecting and treating speech and language delays is the best approach.
How can speech-language therapy help a late talker?
A speech-language pathologist can recommend therapy methods that will benefit your child based on their age and the severity of the delay. Speech-language therapy can help a child’s communication and language skills. The extent of improvement, however, will be determined by the cause or source of their speech delay.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can also advise parents on improving the quality of their time with their children. You may be given suggestions and instructions on communicating with your child to help them improve their speech-language skills.
To learn more about how speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help you and your child, read the post on the role of SLPs in treating speech and language disorders.