Children and Late Talking: What is a Late Talker?

What do you mean by the term “late talker?” This term refers to a toddler who starts speaking or using words later than other children of the same age. It does not mean they are abnormal because their overall development is typical. Late talkers are somehow perplexed because they understand every word spoken to them and have good playing skills, but they cannot interact effectively due to their limited vocabulary. Is your child a late talker? Are you worried about this problem? There is no need to worry at all. This blog post will provide everything you need to know about late talkers and how to eliminate this issue.

Who is a “Late Talker?”

A late talker is a child with a limited vocabulary and does not know how to combine words into phrases or simple sentences. It is a difficult task for him. He struggles to communicate correctly, but he cannot do so. Usually, he is between 18 and 30 months old. Speech therapists and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) generally use the term “late language emergence” when discussing this child. According to them, such a child is sometimes slower at listening and understanding skills. Remember that understanding and speaking skills develop together, so they are connected. It is crucial to know whether your child is a late talker. If you are concerned about it, notice the following signs in your child.

Typical Understanding

Every child gains appropriate receptive language skills by living and playing with other children. It shows that they have a typical understanding. In other words, they can easily understand what their peers are saying to them. If you want to know whether your child is a late talker, focus on their typical understanding. Like other children, they are regular if they comprehend everything and show responsive expression. Despite facial expressions, if your child cannot speak even a few words, it is a sign of a late talker.

Limited Vocabulary

Many parents often find themselves concerned about the communication development of their children. Surveys show that about 80% of parents are going through this situation. It is natural to compare your kids with others of the same age. But the problem arises when you notice differences in their skills and abilities. In the same way, the limited vocabulary is also a considerable concern for parents. Remember that a 30-month-old child should speak more than 50 words. But if your baby uses less than 50 words or their vocabulary is growing slower, you can refer to them as a “late talker.”

Difficulty in Words Combination

The word combination is a difficult task for children at an early age. Over time, this skill becomes stronger in them. They gradually comprehend combining words to form a proper phrase or sentence structure. If your child combines words correctly and speaks fluently, he is a normal baby. But he is a late talker if he has difficulty forming phrases like “bye-bye baba” or “more juice, please” or speaking confused words.

Now, we are providing you with age-specific benchmarks to help you notice late talking:

  • At 18 Months, Your Child Should
  • Use body expressions or gestures like waving or pointing
  • Follow the familiar directions
  • Say almost 20 words 
  • Copy your spoken words
  • At 24 Months, Your Child Should
  • Comprehend the new words and their meanings quickly
  • Say more than 50 words on their own
  • Start making short phrases by combining two words
  • Interact with you by having simple conversations in a primary language tone.
  • At 30 Months, Your Child Should
  • Have an increased vocabulary of more than 100 words
  • Have the skill to use 3 to 4 words to express their feelings or sentiments
  • Be able to answer and ask questions.

Remember, this milestone is just a guideline. Every child grows at their own pace. But when your child does not fulfill the above benchmark, it may be a sign of late talking. The identification of late talk can be challenging. It is because the late talkers do not have any cognitive impairments or developmental delays such as intellectual disabilities, hearing loss, etc. So, you just need to identify it independently without diagnosing other physical problems.

How Common Are Late Talkers?

Late talkers are relatively common. At two years old, about 13% of children display signs of late language emergence. When you find yourself stuck with the problem of your loved ones’ improper language development, you should keep calm. It is because you are not alone on this journey. Many parents are facing the same situation right now, and support is always available to help you and others to help your children grow and develop properly.

What are the Causes of Late Talking?

The reason why some children are late to begin talking to others is a mystery. People need help figuring out the accurate causes of language delay. Researchers have yet to explain it, but they are working constantly to observe the significant role of genetics in this aspect. They are also struggling to determine which late talker will catch up to other peers, knowing it is uncertain up until now. It is observed that most late-talking children start catching up when their schooling starts; almost 20–30% of them still keep facing challenges in language development.

Nowadays, it is hard for therapists to understand which late talkers will face upcoming language difficulties. However, there are signs that a few toddlers are more likely to experience long-lasting speaking problems. Whatever the condition may be, mild or severe, researchers suggest seeking assistance with their language as soon as possible.

The Uncertain Future of Late Talkers

The shadowy future of late talkers urges their parents to ask some crucial questions, like how toddlers can learn to talk, the exact cause of late talking, and how effectively it diminishes their communication skills in the long run. As we told you before, scientists are exploring and studying this intensely and contributing different factors, like the environment, genes, and many others. They are trying to determine the reasons behind the late talk and predict what will happen next. It is because some children find it tricky to take an initial step.

Exploring the uncertainty in this aspect sparks ongoing conversations and research in the science community. The main goal is to offer specific support and help discover the unique ways every child learns to talk. That’s why we suggest the parents not be worried. You just need to identify the lateness in your child and take decisive action to cope with this problem. You are not alone here! We are with you. Now, we will discuss what you should do in this situation.

What Should You Do If Your Child is a Late Talker?

If you are suspicious that your toddler may be a late talker, it is essential to understand that it does not reflect a long-term speaking disorder. Most children copy their peers and do not need any intervention. In contrast, some others may need to benefit from intervention services such as speech-language therapy to help their language development. Now the question arises: “Will your toddler catch up by themselves?” It varies, which is the answer.

It is impossible to predict which group your child belongs to—those who learn to talk naturally or may need extra support for effective language treatment. To get beautiful results, you should adopt the best course of action. The only solution here is to seek assistance from a speech-development pathologist. They can easily access your toddler’s language skills and give expert guidance. For this purpose, they will recommend different activities and strategies.

Late Talker Strategies

As a parent, you can play a crucial role in developing strong communication skills in your child. Children remain more attached to their parents at an early age. That is why they can easily handle their mood swings and guide them properly. In short, only parents can implement many speech therapy strategies for improved situations. We recommend the following two practices:

1- Begin Practicing at Home

Suppose you are included among such parents who are worried for their child. In that case, we suggest you engage in interactive activities like singing, reading, and talking with your toddler to provide a language-rich environment. Remember to incorporate everyday interaction and play into the learning experience. You must spend 15 to 30 minutes daily on these activities to make a difference—the three best strategies to take place at home for supporting your child during your regular family activities.

Focused Stimulation

In this strategy, you will repeat the names of things, actions, and people more often so that they may repeat them many times in their minds and learn them.

Following Your Child’s Interest

It is an essential strategy because it is up to your child’s interest. Pay attention to their favorite activities and teach them new words accordingly. When you follow their lead, you will find at-home practices more enjoyable and effective.

Increase Commenting

The majority of us ask a lot of questions. But comments are more important than questions for children learning to talk. It seems like a small change, but it will significantly affect your child’s grooming and learning.

2- Schedule a Language and Speech Evaluation

You may be thinking about whether speech therapy is essential or not. If your child does not learn properly through simple home practices and misses up your words, then you need to get additional help in this regard. That is why we recommend you schedule an evaluation for your toddler. This appointment will give you valuable insights into your loved one’s strengths.

You will also get information about the areas where you may need support. In addition, you will also receive special techniques to strengthen your child’s language development during the whole evaluation process. Following the evaluation will help you understand whether to apply speech therapy, depending on your child’s requirements.

Seek Medical Assistance

No doubt, at-home strategies are always effective. But if you are still waiting for good results from home practices, contact the early intervention program or a famous pediatrician in your state. For this purpose, book an appointment for extra support and plan what to tell the therapist during the appointment. It will give you peace of mind to have a good meeting. Talk about your child’s language development at every point during the meeting. Do not forget to discuss previous at-home activities. This way, the certified professional will get all your points and treat your child according to the situation and needs. We ensure this step will be more fruitful than all your steps for your child’s proper speech learning.

Final Thoughts

We will share our final thoughts by saying that “late talker” is not considered a severe linguistic disorder. It is just a condition where there is late language emergence. It may be a secondary sign of another disorder, but it is rare. Many parents seem perplexed because they understand the lack of language development as well as the lack of comprehension and literacy skills. But there is no need to be confused like that. It is because the improvement of late talkers, with or without intervention, is always favorable. Such children have a high chance of catching up to their peers if speech interventions are in order.