A ‘Late Talker’ is a toddler (between 18-30 months) who has good understanding of language, typically developing play skills, motor skills, thinking skills, and social skills, but has a limited spoken vocabulary for his or her age. The difficulty late talking children have is specifically with spoken or expressive language. This group of children can be very puzzling because they have all the building blocks for spoken language, yet they don’t talk or talk very little. Researchers have yet to agree upon an explanation for this specific delay. They have determined, though, that Late Talkers are more likely to have a family history of early language delay, to be male, and to have been born at less than 85% of their optimal birth weight or at less than 37 weeks’ gestation. It has also been determined that approximately 13% of two-year-olds are late talkers.
What is typical for a young child's speech?
- 18 month olds should use least 20 words, including different types of words, such as nouns (“baby”, “cookie”), verbs (“eat”, “go”), prepositions (“up”, “down”), adjectives (“hot”, “sleepy”), and social words (“hi”, “bye”).
- 24 month olds should use at least 100 words and combine 2 words together. These word combinations should be generated by the child, and not be combinations that are “memorised chunks” of language, such as “thank you”, “bye bye”, “all gone”, or “What’s that?”. Examples of true word combinations would be “doggie gone”, “eat cookie”, or “dirty hands”.
How can I help my child to talk more?
- Aim to complete one speaking activity with your child daily.
- Different members of your family can complete the activities to add variety.
- Set aside 5-10 minutes per day to complete the activities.
- Make the activities fun and enjoy the time with your child.
- Keep notes on how your child interacts with the activity to share with professionals if needed.
The SEN Expert has a downloadable ‘Late Talkers Activity Pack’ which provides ten easy to use activities that will help your child – be sure to check it out!
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