early intervention speech therapy

“Late Talkers” Who Get Early Intervention Speech Therapy Have Better Long-Term Outcomes

As speech therapy providers, we’re well-acquainted with the fact that “late talkers” can benefit from early intervention. And while there is evidence those who “catch up” continue to be at moderate risk for further speech-language deficits as they get older, research shows those risks even out, ultimately equaling about the same as those who started off with no speech delays at all.

How Do We Define “Late Talker”? 

The American Speech Hearing Association refers to “late talking” as “late language emergence.” It is defined as a delay in language onset when there are no other diagnosed disabilities or other developmental cognitive/motor delays.

It’s estimated 10-20 % of 2-year-olds are late talkers, and it’s three times more common in boys than girls.

Toddlers with late language emergence might have only expressive language delays (the ability to express ones’ self to others). Alternatively, they might have mixed expressive & receptive delays (trouble both expressing one’s self and understanding what other people are expressing to them). Kids with expressive language delays have trouble with things like articulation (how to say words correctly) and sentence structure. A child with mixed expressive and receptive would have trouble with oral language production and language comprehension.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has a great Speech and Language Milestones Checklist to help you determine if your child’s speech-language is delayed. Our speech therapy clinic in Brecksville also offers free initial screenings, as well as comprehensive testing, as referred by a physician.

Children who are “late talkers” are going to be at risk for literacy troubles as well, and the condition can later show itself to be closely associated with other disabilities, such as social communication disorder, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, learning disability, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Although some kids with late language emergence later prove to be “late bloomers” (who ultimately catch up to their peers without intervention), the differentiation is really only made after the fact. That’s why we recommend all “late talkers” get early intervention speech therapy.

Early Intervention Speech Therapy Helps Late Talkers Catch Up

Speech therapy has been proven to help children with speech-language delays “catch up” to their peers.

One study published in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology revealed that kids who received early intervention speech therapy and caught up to their peers were no more likely than any other child to fall behind in language/literacy later in life.

The longitudinal (over time) analysis looked at nearly 3,600 pairs of twins who participated in an early development study. About 9 percent of the twin sets were language delayed at age 2. Of those, 60 percent had “recovered” or “caught up” by the time they reached four years. Those who “recovered” were matched with another 4-year-old participant who matched their same vocabulary, gender, and other characteristics – but who did not have a history of language delay.

What they found was that kids who appeared to have “recovered” by age 4 were at no higher risk than others for language outcomes as they got older.

Further, when a child’s language difficulties are largely resolved by age 5 or 6, their long-term outlook for language development is much better. We also know that early intervention speech therapy can be critical in helping children with late language emergence to “catch up” in the first place.

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:

What is Early Intervention? ASHA

More Blog Entries:

Does Baby Talk Boost Speech-Language Development? Feb. 1, 2022, Northeast Ohio Speech Therapy Blog

speech & language development

How Can I Improve My Child’s Speech & Language Skills? Talk to Them – Early and Often!

Parents of our kids receiving Brecksville speech & language therapy sometimes ask for tips on how to boost their child’s vocabulary and communication skills. One of the best ways? Talk to your kids! A lot!

Research has shown that kids whose parents spoke to them frequently had larger vocabularies and tested higher in cognitive ability. On analysis published by the American Psychological Association tracked parents’ interactions with 107 kids between the ages of 2 and 4 with audio recorders placed in their home (with their consent, of course). Over the course of three days, study authors examined the total number of words each child heard from their caregivers and the diversity of that vocabulary. What they discovered was that the sheer number of words and the greater variation of those words was positively correlated with with kids’ cognitive ability and speech development.

Of course, this doesn’t mean if your child’s speech & language skills are delayed that you aren’t doing your job and talking to the enough. What it means is that all young kids substantially benefit when they’re spoken to early and often. While you may not be able to change their starting point/genetics, it’s clear there is a definite interplay between a child’s environmental experiences and their development.

Although some parents may feel a bit odd speaking to a baby or small child – knowing they can’t understand most of what’s being said – sometimes it’s as simple as narrating your day, and all that you’re doing. “Now mommy is going to walk to the mailbox to see if we got any letters.” “Let’s use the pink soap to wash your hair.” “Our fluffy dog loves going for long walks on his leash!” “Mommy likes to pick the bright, red, shiny peppers.”

Activities to Boost Baby’s Speech & Language Skills

The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) has a whole host of ideas it recommends for encouraging babies to engage and talk.

Some of those include:

  • Saying sounds like “da” and “ba” and “ma” and trying to get your infant to repeat them back to you.
  • Being sure to respond any time your baby laughs or makes a face. If they make a face, make the same one back to them.
  • Give your baby your attention anytime he or she makes sounds. Talk back and pretend you’re having a conversation.
  • Anytime you notice colors or shapes, point them out.
  • Use lots of gestures like pointing and waving.
  • Count the things you’re seeing, touching, or working with.
  • Talk about all the sounds that animals make.
  • Read to your baby. You don’t even have to read every single word (especially if you’re tired of the same books over and over, though repetition can be helpful for kids). Pick large, colorful picture books and point out all the things you see in the picture, label it, ask questions (and answer them if they’re still too young to talk).

Once your child gets to be about 2-years-old, you should be regularly modeling clear speech for your child (eliminate baby talk if possible).

If you have questions about other ways to help kick-start your child’s speech & language skills, our dedicated Brecksville speech therapists are available to help.

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:

Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development, ASHA

More Blog Entries:

Brecksville Speech Therapy Insight: When Do Babies Learn Their Names? September 2, 2021, Brecksville Pediatric Speech & Language Therapy Blog

Brecksville speech therapists

Why Our Pediatric Brecksville Speech Therapists Use Crafts in Sessions

Our pediatric Brecksville speech therapists LOVE using crafts in sessions with kids. Our tables and desks are often packed with stickers and glitter and papery and clay and cotton balls. There’s a good reason for this: Crafts are an excellent communication temptation. What that means is that it motivates kids to engage – to express themselves and to understand what is being expressed to them. These are referred to as expressive and receptive language skills.

Kids enjoy crafting because it’s fun. Go to any preschool or child education center, and you will spot the crafts within two seconds. That’s because teachers have long recognized that arts and crafts activities are not just key to development of visual motor processing and fine motor skills. They compel kids to talk and help the lessons “stick” like glitter glue.

Our Brecksville speech therapists recognize that crafts are incredibly effective at language development because they necessitate a basic understanding of concepts and helps with practicing of:

  • Answering/asking “wh” questions
  • Sequencing
  • Vocabulary (nouns, verbs and basic concepts)
  • Articulation skills
  • Voice/fluency skills
  • Following directions
  • Social/pragmatic skills (taking turns, eye contact, requesting, etc.)

Crafts are also a great way for parents to practice with their child on certain speech therapy goals. Doing this just takes incorporating a few speech therapy strategies into your crafting time.