What is a Late-Talking Toddler?

Many parents may wonder, is my child normal? When it comes to speech and language development, there are certain milestones Toddlers Playing A Gamebetween birth to 1 year and 1 to 2 years that we would hope all children achieve. Some children may progress through these milestones faster or slower than others, but there is usually a typical pattern of development.

When a child’s speech and language developmental pattern is not following that of typical peers, he or she may be referred to as a “late-talking toddler.”

Warning signs that your child may be a late-talking toddler include:

By 2 years old, if a child is not yet:

  • using 50 words to communicate
  • understanding about 300 words
  • combining 2-word phrases (e.g., “more milk”)

Such children may also appear to be frustrated when unable to communicate, including having tantrums and/or hitting oneself or others.

Some parents may be familiar with the “wait and see” approach. The idea behind this is that parents will wait to see if their child becomes a late-talking toddler; however, doing this allows the gap between potentially delayed children and typical peers to grow. It is better to seek intervention when they first notice a delay.

Studies have shown that early intervention can be most beneficial for these children. When started early, speech-language pathologists can help these late-talking toddlers to “catch-up” to their peers. Research has revealed that, if untreated, these children may develop difficulties when they become of age to attend school, both academically and socially.

If any of these warning signs describe your child, a licensed speech-language pathologist can help! An SLP can conduct an evaluation to determine if there is a delay.

This evaluation would include:

  • observation: watching your child play and interact
  • elicitation: prompting your child to respond via pointing, gesturing or speech production
  • parent-reporting: learning what skills your child may be demonstrating at home, but not during their time together with a speech-language pathologist

There is so much that can be done to help these children; please contact us if you have questions!

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