Brecksville speech therapists

Brecksville Speech Therapists Weigh In on “Late Talkers”: Do They Grow Out of It?

If you’re child is a late talker, maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “He’s just a late bloomer.” You might have even been told not to worry, as they’ll grow out of it. Our Brecksville speech therapists disagree with this advice, and it comes down to this: They may grow out of it, but they may not. And there’s not a whole lot of ways for us to know early on which will grow out of it and which are going to need help. If the issue is a delay in speech & language development, a “wait-and-see” approach is only going to push their progress back further – making it harder for them to catch up to the communication skills of their peers.

Some of the factors that can influence a child’s development of speech and language skills include:

  • Their innate capacity to acquire language.
  • How much they hear talking or singing throughout a day.
  • How people respond when they do talk (or try to talk).
  • Other skills they’re working on at any given time.

What is a “Late” Talker?

A “late bloomer” refers to a child whose language skills develop more slowly than their peers, but generally still within range of what’s considered typical. Meanwhile a language delay refers to a child whose language skills are substantially behind what’s expected for their age. There can be many reasons for this, but children with language delays generally struggle to communicate their needs and wants and also have trouble understanding when someone’s trying to communicate the same with them.

Kids all develop at their own pace. Not every kid has the same mastery of skills at the same time. But in general, late talkers are those who:

  • Haven’t started babbling by the age of 15 months.
  • Aren’t talking by age 2.
  • Only speak in short sentences by age 3.
  • Have trouble following directions.
  • Poorly pronounce or articulate their words.
  • Struggle to put sentences together.
  • Leave out words of a sentence.

While these are clear indicators of a problem, we’d urge parents to seek medical advice and have their child evaluated sooner if possible if you have any concerns. Doctors are increasingly recognizing the value of doing so in order to initiate early intervention speech therapy for kids 2-5 – something our Brecksville speech therapists have been preaching for years.

It’s been a difficult message to really drive home because parents tend to get so many mixed signals about “when to worry.” For instance, news outlet published the headline, “Late Talkers Do Fine as They Grow Up,” referring to the findings that show a majority of kids didn’t have emotional issues linked to being late-talkers by the time they turned 5. But that provides something of a false sense of security for a couple reasons.

Firstly, the study that triggered that article didn’t follow up on how those children’s language skills progressed, so it’s questionable whether it’s fair to say those kids were “fine.” Secondly, delayed language can impact so many other areas of development – emotional, yes, but also social, cognitive, and even physical. None of those were assessed here. Plus, even if most of the kids were “fine,” what about the 20-30 percent of those who don’t just “outgrow” it? The longer they waited before receiving speech therapy and other interventions, the farther behind they were falling on so many key early development skills.

So while we don’t encourage parents to “worry,” it is a good idea to act on your instinct and seek a professional opinion if you think your child is falling behind with their speech and language skills. If your child isn’t talking by the time they’re between 18 months and 30 months, that’s probably cause to line up an evaluation with a speech therapist. We can give you peace of mind about whether your child’s speech and language development is truly on track or whether there’s cause for concern and a basis on which to start treatment.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

More Blog Entries:

Speech Delays Higher Among Ohio Kids Whose Early Years Were During Pandemic, Jan. 10, 2023, Brecksville Speech Therapists Blog