What is a late talker?
A late talker is more than not just saying words. A late talker is a child who may have late language emergence. For example, a late talker may have;
Decreased use of gestures
Difficulty following directions
Difficulty playing with toys
Difficulty using words
Difficulty with producing speech sounds
Difficulty socializing with peers
What is a late bloomer?
A late bloomer is a child who demonstrates age appropriate understanding of language. For example, a late bloomer will follow directions, such as, “‘Get your shoes.” A late bloomer will also use gestures to communicate in the absence of expressive language. We expect a late bloomer will have age appropriate expressive language skills in time without intervention.
What should I do if I am not sure if my child is a late talker or late bloomer?
If you are not sure if your child is a late talker or a late bloomer, you should contact a certified speech language pathologist who can evaluate your child. If it is determined that your child has delayed speech and language then speech therapy will be recommended. A speech language pathologist may see your child directly and provide strategies to help your child improve their speech and language skills.
How can I help my child at home?
More often than not I hear people say “They will grow out of it.” Although this may be the case for late bloomers it is usually not the case for late talkers. In either case, there are many ways to foster speech and language development. Of course, if your child is a late talker, your speech language pathologist may have suggestions for you specific to your child. In general, here are some ways to help your child develop his/her speech and language skills;
Model appropriate speech and language for your child at their developmental level
Use face to face communication whenever possible so that your child may see and hear how speech sounds are made in words
Avoid forcing your child to speak, modeling speech and language is best
Narrate your day and try to not ask too many questions (talk about what you are doing while you are doing it!)
Be animated when interacting with your child
Use gestures and body language to support comprehension
Play social games with your child, such as, Hide and Seek and Charades
Read books over and over!
Don't wait! Make sure to contact a certified speech and language pathologist if you suspect your child is a late talker. Early intervention is critical and necessary to help our children succeed in elementary school!