Our Speech and Language Therapist Lauren Daly discusses speech delay in toddlers.
Children with a speech delay are more commonly referred to as a Late Talker. A “Late Talker” is a toddler (between 18-30 months) who has a good understanding of language, and develops play skills, motor skills, thinking skills and social skills at the normal developmental stages, but will have a limited spoken vocabulary for his or her age. It has also been reported that approximately 13% of two year olds have a speech delay or are late talkers (Ellis & Thai, 2008). Therefore, it’s more common than you might think.
For late talkers, the main difficulty they experience is with spoken language and often there is no explanation or underlying diagnosis. Around 15% of 2 year olds present with vocabulary delay without an underlying diagnosis. These children appear to have all the skills necessary to be a good communicator, but they still don’t say many words.
Importance of Speech and Language Therapy for Speech Delay
Many parents adopt a wait and see approach; they feel that their child will just ‘grow out’ of their speech delay. Since children with delayed speech or language delays can’t participate fully during activities and conversations, they may fall even further behind if they are not provided with the help they need. This is why it’s so important not to wait for a speech delay to fix itself, if you see any sign that your child’s communication development may be delayed please seek treatment from a Speech and Language Therapist.
late talkers - speech delayIf a child receives the Speech and Language Therapy support that they need at the right time they can make significant gains in improving their speech delay. Early language intervention and treatment with a Speech and Language Therapist is critically important for late talkers to develop good communication skills necessary for future success in their academic and personal lives.
The following is a list of risk factors (Hanen.org) that may indicate that a child is likely to continue having language difficulties:
- Quiet as a baby
- Often suffers from ear infections
- Does not use a lot of consonant sounds (b, d, g, k, m, n, p etc.)
- Does not copy words
- Uses more nouns than verbs
- Finds it hard to play with others
- Limited use of gestures when communicating
- Family history of late talkers or learning difficulties
References: Dresmarais, C., Sylvestire, M.F., Bairati,I., Rouleau, N. (2008). A Systematic Review of the literature on the characteristics of late talking toddlers. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders