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Why “Wait and See” isn’t Recommended for Speech Delays

Don't hide from speech delays!

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Do you have a late talker? Here’s why you shouldn’t wait to get them assessed by a speech + language professional. Contrary to friends and family’s well-meaning comments, it’s actually not best to “wait and see” if their speech improves.

What is a late talker?

“Late talkers” are children with early language delay despite typical cognition, sensory and motor systems, and the absence of genetic or neurologic disease. Late talking is a not a diagnostic category; it’s a situation which may or may not result in a language disorder.

Late talkers are children who:

  • Are between 18-20 months and have fewer than 10 words; OR
  • are between 21-24 months and have fewer than 25 words; OR
  • are between 24-30 months and have fewer than 50 words and/or no two-word combinations, AND
  • have no major area of concern in other areas of development (e.g. understanding, play, social, motor, cognitive skills)

(Rescorla, Mirak, & Singh, 2000)

What is a late bloomer?

“Late bloomers” are late talkers who appear to catch up, as they achieve average scores on language performance as they approach school-age, according to standardized language tests.

What are language disorders?

A “Language disorder” is a diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), and refers to children who have difficulty acquiring and using language that is not attributed to sensory, motor, genetic, cognitive, or other factors. Children with language disorder may or may not have a history of late talking.

Most late talkers stay delayed…

Most late talking children continue to evidence weaker language and related abilities. Early language intervention can boost children’s long-term outcomes, and also have an impact on other domains that rely on prior language achievements for their development. (Capone Singleton, 2018).

Ready to get your child seen by a professional speech therapist in the Tampa Bay area? Fill out our Get Started form today!