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Wait and See? Advice for Families of Late Talking Children

When a child is behind in talking, also known as a “late talker”, parents begin searching for answers on what to do. Many well-meaning friends, family members, teachers, and even medical professionals may often give the advice to “wait and see” which suggests a child may catch up in their language abilities with their peers on their own.

Mother watching daughter play at a table

Here are some problems with the “wait and see” approach

  • Language and speech development is a fast-paced, multifaceted developmental process starting at birth and is ever-changing into adulthood. If a child is behind in language development now, the language continues to develop in peers at a fast rate, especially between the ages of 2- years of age and 6- years of age.
  • Understanding developmental milestones can be confusing and vary greatly depending on different ages. Pediatricians often spot-check major language developmental milestones while Speech-Language Pathologists have a deeper knowledge of language milestones for receptive, expressive, and pragmatic language development and can identify a true concern if present.
  • Even if a child does catch up on language skills on their own, research (Capone Singleton, 2018) has indicated these “late bloomers” continue to evidence weaker language and related abilities.
  • When a child is not meeting developmental milestones, additional higher levels of stress in the family can develop and can impact the parent-child relationship. Where there is a delay in communication or developmental growth, frustration, worry, and anxieties can increase in family members.

How can a Speech-Language Pathologist help?

While others’ advice regarding a late-talking child may be from a personal experience, it is viewed through one lens.

A licensed Speech-Language Pathologist is an expert in understanding communication milestones from birth to adulthood and can truly evaluate whether a child is on target or delayed with speech and language milestones. From the evaluation, which includes parent information, child observation, and consideration of risk factors, a Speech-Language Pathologist can work with the family and give specific recommendations for what is best for the child.

It is always best advised, if there are concerns with a child’s language development, an evaluation from a professional will give you an understanding of exactly where your child is on a developmental continuum, answer your concerns and questions, and provide resources to help further develop language skills for your child.

No age is too early for a Speech-Language Pathologist to evaluate your child, schedule your evaluation today.

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