How to Tell if Your Child is a Late Talker

Every parent worries where their child falls along the line of typical development. We want what's best for our kids, and we get concerned if it seems like they're not where they are supposed to be. However, all children develop at different rates. Even siblings will be at different places at varying speeds throughout their growth. With that said, some children may need additional help to speak, some will need therapy, and some will just develop their speech late. Determining the difference can help you get your child the assistance they need and put you at ease.

What is considered a late talker?

For most children, late talking is seen as an otherwise typically developing toddler (18-30 months) who is having trouble speaking or speaking less than expected. These children might even have a good grasp of letters, phonic activities, and even words, but simply have trouble with or choose to not speak.

While there is no good answer for why late talking occurs, a large majority of this group are males with a family history of speech delay.

What is considered a late talker, do late talkers need speech therapy, speech delay therapy, toddler speech delay exercises, language, activities, development

Why might a child speak at a different pace?

Many factors go into how quickly a child develops, whether emotionally, socially, physically, or in their speech. Some things that go into your child's speech development are:

  • How often they are exposed to it during the day. Children in big, busy families may be exposed to more dialect and words each day than a child with one parent and no siblings.

  • When parents and siblings respond to speech or attempt to talk with encouraging words and kind voices, children are more apt to want to do it again.

  • Other skills that are developing concurrently. A child that is having trouble with speech might be excelling at motor function, mobility, or some other facet of their development. Likewise, if they're struggling in another area, frustration can spill over to speech, or it can take more effort to work on speech in tandem with something else they're finding difficult.

  • If they have siblings or not can play a large part in how a child's ability to speak develops. Kids with siblings that are close in age to them but still older (12-20 months typically) develop a grasp of language faster in many cases and are often more apt to speak sooner.

  • Their innate ability to learn is sometimes simply different from other kids; milestone charts are there as a guide, not an end-all, be-all.

Do late talkers need speech therapy?

Again while many parents worry about delays, there are some guidelines you can use to determine if your child should see a speech therapist.

  • At around 18 months, your toddler should be able to say around 20 different words. They should include a mix of different types of words, too - nouns, verbs, etc.

  • By 24 months, your child should have about 100 words in their vocabulary and should be able to put two or more words together to form a thought. It's important to note also that they should be able to create these two-word thoughts on their own, common phrases like "bye-bye" or "love you" are learned responses.

If you feel like your child isn't hitting these milestones, or if in general, they're speaking less than expected, speaking with a speech therapist is a good idea. In many cases, they will meet with you to discuss what's going on and then either set up appointments and a treatment plan, or they may suggest you observe the situation for a few months longer. Some children simply take longer and a speech pathologist will be able to help you determine if that's the case.

Key Takeaways:

If you are concerned about your child's speech, first consider:

  • How is their development in other areas? Are there significant other delays or is it just in speaking?

  • All children develop differently and some children are a little slower in some areas and faster in others.

  • Are they using an appropriate amount of words for their age (20ish around 18 months and 100+ around 24 months)

Contact Infinite Therapy Solutions Today!

If you still have concerns, contact Infinite Therapy Solutions. We are proud to serve Hudson County and Bayonne, NJ with a wide variety of speech, occupational and physical therapy solutions for families. From assessment to toddler speech delay exercises, we can help your child confidently develop in their speech.