'Late talkers' usually catch up without other problems
July 4th, 2011
12:26 AM ET

'Late talkers' usually catch up without other problems

Up to 18% of children worldwide are so-called "late talkers" but most of them develop language skills by the time they enter kindergarten, according to a study in the latest edition of Pediatrics.

In an effort to examine possible psychological problems in children who are slower to develop their verbal skills, Australian researchers looked at whether language delay at age 2 could be linked to other behavioral problems later in childhood and adolescence.

Most parents know the relationship between ages and stages in a child's growth. But pediatricians say young children develop differently, especially when it comes to walking and talking.

Your child's developmental stages

Before this study, research had shown that certain behaviors, along with slow speech development, may lead to other problems as a child gets older.

In the Australian study, investigators followed more than 2,800 families from childbirth through the 17th birthday and tracked behavioral and emotional development. Researchers found children who were late talkers had, at age 2,  a slightly higher level of behavioral and emotional problems than tots who were already talking. But the majority of late talkers were at no greater risk of developing emotional problems later on in life.

Study authors concluded these findings support a wait-and-see approach for late talkers with otherwise normal development. But they also noted the previous scientific evidence linking persistent language problems with issues such as shyness, fearfulness, and disruptive behavior, as precursors to more serious psychosocial problems as children get older.

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  1. fadeinlight

    This article neglected to mention a famous case of a late talker that turned out just fine: Einstein.

    July 4, 2011 at 05:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Afkensin

      I want to thank everyone who has made a comment or response, I found your information helpful and reassuring.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
    • Janie

      Yes. Albert Einstein was an amazing and brilliant man. However, it is theorized that he was dyslexic and maybe had other "learning disabilities". I am not trying to take away from his greatness or say he needed intervention...but, late talking can be indicative of something else going on. For Albert Einstein, things worked out just fine. But for some kids, that may not be the case and it would benefit them to be monitored and for parents to be aware of any other red flags in their development ( (i.e., early reading skills, etc.). Some learning disabilities can be devastating to a child's self esteem. The earlier it is identified then the better the child can learn to accomodate for it,and even more importantly, learn where their strengths lie and focus on those. Many children identified with a "learning disability" in one area may have exceptional skills in another (i.e. Albert Einstein, dyslexic but gifted with understanding of physics). But that doesn't mean you can ignore the are which they have trouble with, especially in this day and age and with all the standardized testing required by law that children need to take when enrolled in public schools. Also, as a speech and language pathologist I can say that a well trained professional should be able to identify what is late talking (i.e., delayed but with otherwise typical development and solid pre language skills versus disordered language which is atypical development). That is why parents should take advantage of Early Intervention services and have their child evaluated if they are a late talker. Early Intervention will provide treatment if necessary or monitor your child to ensure the child continues to follow a normal developmental path and to provide
      suggestions to help foster and facilitate their language.

      July 5, 2011 at 23:28 | Report abuse |
  2. jmg

    Docs and parents need to be careful with this. I had one nephew who was a late talker. He has turned out just fine and had no problems in kindergarten, but because he was a late talker, no one gave it a second thought when his younger brother wasn't talking even at age 2. There was no desire to look into other behavioral red flags and it took another 2 years and a new pediatrician to diagnose him as autistic and get him therapy for language, sensory and social issues. Parents, if you think your kid is 'off' remember your doc has only 10-15 minutes with you. Get in touch with your state early intervention program for an assessment. This is free to you as is therapy in public schools at preschools for kids needing early intervention. Well, you pay for it with your taxes, but you don't need to have insurance to get access to these programs. Had my SIL's doc looked more deeply into my nephews other behaviors and not just the slow talking, he might have been helped a year or more earlier. at almost 5 he is just now saying a word or two here and there.

    July 4, 2011 at 06:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ccs

      This is excellant advice. Early childhood programs are free and can make a tremendous difference in a child's development. My older son was a late talker, however he is now in the gifted and talented program. My younger son had no language by age two and was later diagnosed with autism. His ped told us to take a wait and see approach which was not good advice. I self referred to our state's EI program and was fortunate to get my child services. If your child does not have 50 words by age two, it is a good idea to have them evaluated.
      Thankfully my son is doing very well today and is in a regular ed classroom with support from special ed resource teachers. If I did not get him his early start he would not be where he is today.

      July 4, 2011 at 07:29 | Report abuse |
    • Jeepers

      Your story sounds just like ours ccs. Our son is 11 now and has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. He's mainstreamed and in GT classes. That doesn't mean he is without problems. He failed the reading portion of the standardized test this year that would prevent him from going to the next grade. Upon retake, he passed. But reading is a struggle for him. Overall, though...we mostly focus on how lucky we are that he doesn't have more severe problems. When he was 2 and not talking, it was very different and very scary and I don't regret at all the steps I took to get him help.

      July 4, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      My friend has a child who is a late talker entering kindergarten, he points and nods for his obedient parents. I figured it was because both his parents are obnoxious talkers that don't let a person get a word in edgewise. Not only does he not talk but he is slow physically as well, mainly because his parents cart him everywhere in a stroller. For the first 4 years of his life he was at home with his mother, his first real contact with other kids came when he went to preschool. Besides not talking he doesn't seem to listen to adult commands.

      July 4, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • highland

      It is important for parents to take early steps as soon as possible than wait and see approach. Nowadays pediatrics has only 10-15 mins and it is unlikely you get real advice without proper deep evaluation of kids to identify any other serious problems. Our son was delayed and at 18 months we had to take our own initiative and get help. He was identified with high performance autism and thank god we got his therapies as early as 2 years. now he is 5 talking well and is attending regular kindergarten with some supportive services. Although he is gifted in many areas such as high intellectual and memory those gifts will not be exposed without good therapies. So parents please dontignore and delays . Get HELP!!

      July 4, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
  3. K

    I know a late talker who grew up to be a debate champ. It isn't always indicative of a problem.

    July 4, 2011 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Futbol Czarina

      That would be a great human interest story as a sidebar to this CNN piece!

      July 4, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
  4. ArtInChicago

    Perhaps they are honing other skills like listening and observing.

    July 4, 2011 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mdk75

      Typically the trend is for the body to "focus" on one major development at a time. In boys, it usually trends that they develop faster physically and girls verbally. If you have any concerns, always ask your doctor, but don't be afraid to contact your local early intervention service. They're the ones who will do the testing and they cover physical and verbal development all at the same time. They're the pros and can really help you determine if there is a need with the most accuracy. EI is key–the earlier any problem is found, the faster and more effective the therapy.

      July 4, 2011 at 07:17 | Report abuse |
    • skarrlette

      Talking is overrated -People talk too much and fill the air with BS that goes nowhere and means nothing. More people should learn to listen and observe. In fact a sign of intelligence is someone one that talks less in my opinion. Whenever I meet someone who dominates the conversation and never shuts up its because they have issues.

      July 4, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
  5. Erika C.

    One more reason that when a parent sees red flags in their child's development it's so hard to get doctors to take it seriously. My late talker had a host of other issues but her doctors still wanted to wait it out.No amount of shouting or standing on my head would make them do anything early for her. She started special ed preschool at 3 with the speech of an 11 month old. Doctors don't know everything. She was almost 17 when diagnosed with Chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, the explanation for everything she'd been through. The second most common chromosomal anomaly after Down's syndrome and most doctors don't recognize the symptoms.

    July 4, 2011 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Isabel

      My son had the same thing. He was not speaking at age 2. I had to take matters into my own hands and get him checked out, because I was worried he was autistic. Turns out he was not autistic, just a late talker. I got him into a special ed. Prek too, and I'm so glad I was vigilant because he has now caught up to his peers. It doesn't hurt to have your child checked out and tested if you suspect something awry. Better to be safe than sorry.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
  6. Doug

    I see a few comments where people are mentioning counterexamples (i.e. Einstein was a late talker, but obviously he had very good command of language – mathematical and creative abilities aside). These are noteworthy, but I think it's missing the point of this study.

    This article didn't make it so clear. What I think this article alludes to is the fact that parents should make sure they give any late-talker the opportunities to catch up. Perhaps some of the kids that end up with language deficiencies or behavioral problems stem from the fact that they didn't have enough face-to-face interaction with adults and kids their age during this period. If a kid can't speak yet, they know something is missing, and they might just keep running off and playing. Or if they want something, they might just cry until you give them what they want. This article suggests to make sure parents avoid doing this, so these kids have the experiences they need both to learn language and how to interact with other people.

    July 4, 2011 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HSullivan

      Letting them catch up and helping them catch up are very different. Our daughter wasn't even saying "mama" or "dada" at 18 months, and we got her involved in speech therapy right away. She is caught up with her peers now and will start kindergarten soon. I'm so glad we didn't take the "wait and see" approach. You have to be your kid's advocate!

      July 4, 2011 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
  7. Rich

    Albert Einstein, by his own account, drove his mother to distraction becuse he didn't say a word until long after his first birthday.

    July 4, 2011 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. oldladygrits

    There is also apraxia, where the tongue and brain mix up the signals. Late talkers or talkers that can't be understood need to be watched.

    July 4, 2011 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jayme

    I dont like the way the article makes it sound like they will atomatically have behvior issues my daughter didnt speak until 3 and shes never had a bad day in her life. She was loving and sweet and she actually was more motivated than my son to do things on her own since she couldnt ask us for stuff. I dont know who did your study but I didnt have that expirence at all and I want other mothers who are going through this to know that thats all. Also she turned out to have a 140 IQ at now 5 years old....

    July 4, 2011 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jayme

      I just wanted to clarify I know who did the study I meant the children they used because I have not had this expirence and my daughter went to a pre school filled with kids just like her for EI and parents talk and I am saying its scary when its you and its just not every kid is the same. So your child may not speak and still be a behaved kid thats all I also just trested her normal and I think that helps.

      July 4, 2011 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Urmm, did you actually read the article? "...the majority of late talkers were at no greater risk of developing emotional problems later on in life..." That's OK, many poster here have a knee-jerk reaction without actually reading the body of the article – guess it saves time...

      July 4, 2011 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
    • New Mexico

      Our son did not speak until 31 months – no words at all. We placed him in a 2's preschool program and had him in speech therapy. When he started talking it was sentences, not words. Today, at age 8, he has an astounding vocabulary. After scoring a 159 IQ in math and 128 IQ in verbal he is in a gifted program in school. In school, he gets along very well with all of his classmates and has never had emotional problems. At home he can be very strong willed and we have had to give 'time-outs' on occasion. Perhaps the book "The Einstein Syndrome: Children Who Talk Late", by Thomas Sowell might be helpful to you – it settled our fears a bit years back. I'm not offering a point of view here, just information!

      July 4, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
  10. Michael

    We have a 4 year old boy who doesn't hardly speak. when he does its nearly impossible to know what he is saying. Doctors have found nothing wrong with him. What I find odd is that he understands anything you say to him. he can follow a list of instructions giving to him. He doesn't get frustrated about people not understanding him. He can however count to 10 and recite all the letters of the alphabet with you. He has just learned to say his own name. I worry about him starting school this year and that leading to frustration and depression because of his speech. However Doctors believe that school and children his age will be the solution. He does have 2 siblings both girls 9 and 13. They seem to ignore him which bothers me. He will ask them something such as, go outside play ball? They won't acknowledge him and pretend not to understand because they want to do something else. I've always been told that children learn more from other children than they do adults.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • biancala

      Our son, now 9, was similar. He didn't talk at all until 27 months but when he did he recited the alphabet, too. He received speech therapy and is much better, though he still mumbles a bit. He has lots of friends and does well in school. He does have more than the usual amount of fearfullness, so it's interesting that they noted that. He is finally outgrowing that now at age 9. He also has handwriting problems. They told us the speech center of the brain is right next to the part that controls writing. He had a touch of dyslexia but he likes reading now. Overall, he's doing great. It scared us at first, though, when he didn't talk.

      July 4, 2011 at 09:19 | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Michael, My son had speech problems too. When he was 3 he had the verbal vocabulary of an 18 month old. Mentally, his vocabulary was larger. We had picture books and he would point to animals, objects, numbers, ect... He understood and followed directions. His initial evaluation for autism came back 'undetermined' and then negative. Experts labeled him 'Apraxic'. If we could have gotten a diagnosis of Apraxia insurance would have covered his speech therapy, but no luck there. He is now 7 and he is largely caught up. He still does not talk as clearly as other kids his own age. We were lucky that our school district had an early intervention program that he entered the Sept. after he turned 3. He got speech therapy as well as preschool. We also paid for our own speech therapist. It was like chasing a moving target. As he said more, so did his peers. He was also very shy/ reticent about sports. He is now playing baseball, but has a lot of catch up. He hates swimming, but his true passion is gymnastics. So search for something he likes. You know your child better than anyone. We never thought our son was autistic and got a little 'offended' when we were asked to get the evaluation and not happy with the initial assessment of 'undetermined'. Do what the 'experts' ask, educate yourself on autism, development delays, apraxia and chromosome 22q11.2 deletion. Get a speech therapist if you haven't already done so. We spoke to teachers about teasing regarding his speech and only found support. With regards to friends, we let our son play with only a handful of kids at first. He will learn from his peers. Listen to his teachers and the schools. If they think he is OK for the class, I would trust them. Have regular meetings. Volunteer from time to time. Be your sons advocate, but you can't protect against everything. Good luck.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
  11. David

    Happy 4th, can you do me a favor and go to HelpFaye.ORG , its about a friend who is fighting for her life.... Thanks

    July 4, 2011 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RabiaDiluvio

    There are kids who don't talk or only communicate in gestures long after other kids have started talking. Then one day...they start spitting out complete sentences and rather sophisticated ones at that.

    There are also kids those kids who get by without talking because their parents do not create the necessity for speech. If a point and a grunt gets them a glass of milk, why should they learn to ask for milk? These kids usually turn out just fine once they are in a new environment that necessitates talking.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Carolyn

    I, too, have a late-talking child with five words at age two. Speech therapy is critical and helped him become intelligible. Now he has good social skills, speaks clearly, learned to read, and is highly intelligent. However, I have just learned that he is dyslexic. Early difficulties with language can have ramifications in later development.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. marie

    I, myself didn't talk until I was 4. I was put in Kindergarten a year early and took speech therapy classes for 3 years. Throughout school I had occasional problems pronouncing words, and now (in my 30's) when I'm tired or really excited I'll mispronounce or even use the wrong word in a sentence. So even though I haven't had 'other' problems I still have problems with speaking.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      You still get words mixed up? That's not a good sign. Might want to get yourself checked out for some kind of aphasia, like dysnomia.

      July 5, 2011 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
  15. i_heart_ears

    Even if a doctor takes on a "watch and wait" stance, one area that should definitely be tested is the child's hearing. In recent years mandatory newborn hearing screenings have lowered the number of children going home from the hospital with unidentified hearing loss, but there are still cases where a child with hearing loss goes unnoticed. Even a child with mild to moderate hearing loss could be missing out on important speech signals, which could cause a delay in speech production. Of course this is not often the case, but it is definitely worth ruling out before you watch and wait.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. K-SLP

    I am a speech-language pathologist with 30+ years of experience with "late talkers" and other children with communication disorders. This study looked at the correlation between "late talking" and psychosocial problems and not any type of learning problems. Parents need to consider the effect of language delay on learning. A child who has not caught up with peers until Kindergarten is at risk for a number of learning disabilities.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Apraxia-KIDS.org

    What you do not discuss is that among those children who definitely do NOT catch up, a proportion of them have speech sound disorders like Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). CAS is a very challenging and difficult speech disorder in which children have great difficulty producing sounds, syllables, and/or words, despite having good receptive language ability. These children require early, intensive and frequent help! They may appear to not have other developmental concerns, at least not early on, but many are at high risk of future literacy and language learning disabilities. This may not be apparent when they are young, as described in this story. Children who do not have intelligible speech by school age are at high risk of future academic difficulties. This story does a disservice to the many parents who have tried to get their pediatricians to refer for speech-language evaluation , only to be told "your child will outgrow it." No one can predict which ones do and which ones do not outgrow what is initially called a "speech delay" or a "language delay." Pediatricians – please, please, please refer for speech-language evaluation by a speech-language pathologist whenever a child exhibits delayed speech and language!! Please learn more at our website http://www.apraxia-kids.org/

    July 4, 2011 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. teke

    jmg is right–every child is different and parents need to decide for themselves if there's something else going on with their child. My Mom told me I was a very late talker–I really didn't start talking much until age 3–but when so when our youngest daughter was age 2 and still not talking I wouldn't have been terribly concerned EXCEPT for the fact that she seemed very frustrated and upset. We contacted our local early intervention program (which as noted above, cost us nothing–good thing too, because we would have had to scrounge like crazy at that point in time if there had been a cost) and they sent a wonderful speech pathologist to our house for a few months. Within a very short time, with us doing lots of exercises with her at home, she began talking just fine long before she started school. (She's now 23 and is still a very enthusiastic talker!). My concern was that if we hadn't addressed the issue early it could have prompted behavioral issues that could have been much more difficult to treat later on, so I'm glad we took early action. The moral of the story is that it's not just about the talking alone–parents need to look for other behaviors that can cue them whether they may need to delve deeper into the issue or not.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rose

      What kind of exercises are good for speech development? My son is in speech therapy but we haven't got a lot of good exercises for home.

      July 4, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse |
  19. Krista

    My son, who is now 6 and speaks completely normally, was a late talker. he spoke complete gibberish that was meaningful to him only. we had him assessed about 4 months before he turned 3. his ultimate diagnosis was Childhood Apraxia of Speech. there were other developmental delays that were happening at the same time, and he still has some slight delays.

    in conversation with a couple of speech pathologists towards the end of his time in speech therapy, i asked them if the "wait and see" approach would have been fine for us to continue. i wanted to know if he would have ultimately developed with no speech therapy. both of them had the opinion that he probably would have had significant communication issues and that speech therapy was really the key for him (which was my opinion). at the age of almost 3, his speech level was that of an 18 month old child. we live in a state where assessments are free and there is no obligation to continue with any of the recommendations out of an assessment... and i am so glad my husband and i went ahead and followed our gut on this matter. the key for us was not so much the late speech but the other delays in development as well, since both of us were late talkers who are fine with no other delays.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. kate

    They need to define "late talker" and "not talking". Does this mean a 2 year old who doesn't speak at ALL, or one that misses one or two of the language milestones at 24 months? Otherwise this is subjective.

    July 4, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dali

      Not sure what it meant in their study. But my son at 2.5 years old was saying no words at all. None. By 4 he would never stop talking and he had a much reacher vocabulary than his peers. And he is now a perfectly fine, very bright, interactive kid.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:07 | Report abuse |
  21. Andy

    "Shyness" is now a behavioral issue? Seriously? Are we that desperate to find things wrong with our children?

    July 4, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Futbol Czarina

      Does it matter how it's labeled? It's an issue which needs to be overcome. Whether it's in the child's medical records or simply an issue which the parents help the child tackle, it still needs to be addressed. To embrace "shyness" is neglectful. To help overcome is beneficial.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse |
  22. Kim D

    My daughter was a late talker. Her first sentence was "Two of em" when she saw a couple cows in a field. We tease her and tell her she was too busy counting in her head to talk. She was a straight A student and just received her Master's Degree. Being a late talker does not always mean there is anything wrong.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Perri

    I didn't talk until I was 3. I had no need to, my older brother did all the talking for me and so did my parents. They were amazed when I finally spoke and it was a complete sentence: "Open the door, daddy." I wanted to go into the house and couldn't reach the door knob so had to ask for help. My brother was not there to do it for me. From then on I talked all the time.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Steve

    Paul Dirac, the physicist, was a minimalist with regard to speech and was renown for sitting silently and not responding in social situations. However, he was elected to become a Fellow of the Royal Society at the tender age of 27 because of his non-verbal communications. The moral is that you have to carefully examine whether the young child is aware of the world they are growing into. It is always possible that they understand and have no need for speech. Watch their actions – they may "speak" louder than words (politicians please note!).

    July 4, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Hazel

    I have a problem with this article. I had a son who had Early Intervention when he was 2 because his was not expressive. By the time he was 2 1/2 they let him go (they said he was on his way) so we never put him in the Development Pre-School Program. When he was 4 it seemed he regressed, I finally got him into the Child Study Team. He was diagnosed with extreme processing issues. At 7, he has auditory memory issues, severe word finding problems. The CST told me it appears he has Central Auditory Processing disorder. The doctors and even Early Intervention are sometimes wrong.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. West of Weden

    Our late talker has 3 degrees from MIT and is very sociable.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Justthefacts

    My Wife was and still is, a late talker. Every morning when we get up, she doesn't talk to me til somewhere about 11am. She says she's not a morning-person. But I know better.....she's a Late Talker.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Lindalou

    My daughter didn't start talking till well after her 3rd birthday and her vocabulary and writing skills are phenomenal. She is now an elementary school teacher. My son who talked in sentences by his first birthday was a mediocre student and did one year of college with less than average grades. Don't measure your kids by everyone else's standards. Kids are individuals that progress at their own rate.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. CC

    My late talker has just graduated from college with a 3.75 GPA and has been accepted to several law schools.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • uhuh

      My late talker has also just graduated from college with a 3.75 GPA and has been accepted to several law schools. Oh, and he's 15.

      July 5, 2011 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
  30. h sutherland md

    My experience in Pediatrics found that most late talkers did not have to talk. They motioned and parents got what they wanted. Usually, when they decided to talk, they started with making sentences. Talking is the least parameter in determing the status of the child's developement.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. plurb

    Albert Einstein did not talk until he was 3 and thereafter spoke slowly when he did until he was nine. Did not seem to hinder him at all.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Boston

    My 7 year old could not talk until she was 3. Shealso didn't walked until she was almost 1.5 years. When she did start to talk, she had a terrible lisp and an even more terrible stutter. This broke my heart every day to think she may go through life with a disability. Well now she talks like she is 30 – not exxagerating. Uses adult words in the right context, comprehends what adults are saying when speaking at an adult level, and tests well above average in all subjects, mostly reading and math. So she's okay – she was a late bloomer. Lots of patience and losts of love helped too.

    My other daughter was complete sentences by her first birthday and walked at 9 months. And at 7 she was pretty much at the same level as her sister.

    I think everyone eventually catches up by the time the reach school, if there is not an apparent disability present. It's difficult to watch your child struggle 🙁

    July 4, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Martin

    For myself, I was a very late talker. My mother told me a detailed story of what happened when I was much older and wiser. She said I would only point and make grunting sounds instead of talking with words(age 3/4). My mother could tell I understood everything so she did this on one particular day: She asked me a question and when I just grunted, she calmly said she did not understand several times. I was told that I got so mad and then suddenly started talking in complete sentences. My mother was shocked but was so happy. She never accepted my grunts again and I guess I was a normal talker forever since that moment. Today, people cannot shut me up. I have no memory of that first talking moment.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Kemi

    I know in the case of my son it was because he had frequent ear infections and was not hearing well. So they need to check the child's hearing. When my son had tubes put in his ear, it was as if someone switched on a switch. We cannot get him to shut up now.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. ash

    If you have any concerns about your child's speech, rule out a hearing loss before you do anything! If your child isn't hearing right, he's probably not going to be talking right! I have seen too many kids whose parents were told 'oh, don't worry, he'll out grow it' only to find out that there was a hearing loss and could have easily been corrected with hearing aids, and several years of language learning were loss.

    July 4, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Nicole

    I have two brothers. One, at age two, was talking but not conversationally (he could label things, like letters, numbers, etc but if he wanted something he'd just say 'I do!"). Turned out he has high functioning autism. Had another brother that was talking at two, but you couldn't you derstand anthing he was saying! Turned out he had a speech sound disorder. I also have a speech sound disorder, but unlike my brother they did "wait and see" with me- I'm an adult who will always have residual deficits that you can hear when I speak. My brother, who started speech at 2, has made much more progress, and at five is close to typical speech. My autistic brother, through early intervention, is now in a mainstream classroom. Really, articles like this, that give advice based on one study, are dangerous.

    July 4, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. sfabl

    There is a major omission in this study and the article reporting it: there is already a body of research that shows that late talkers are at a higher risk (read: it's not definite that this will happen, just that the late-talking child is more likely than his non-late talking peers) to develop reading and other academic difficulties in the later grades.
    As for Einstein: PLEASE can we stop using him as the exception that disproves everything? Einstein was a one-in-a-million mind who fell well on the end of the bell curve. It is dangerous to act as if his case is the norm. I cringe to think how many parents of children with actual language disorders and other diagnoses missed critical early intervention time while they sat around waiting for their child to be "turn out fine" just like Einstein.

    July 4, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Kristie

    My almost three-and-a-half year old has only a handful of words he can say, literally a handful. Then he has a handful of sounds that are specific, and he knows a handful of sign lauguage gestures. So, armed with only three handfuls of communicative ammo, he gets across what he means, wants, needs. He is not a discipline problem at his mothers-morning-out program, nor at his church class. He participates and is attentive and takes direction. He is number 4 in our family. Admittedly, I am lazy at this point about making him try to use "his words" or "his voice", but I can tell he is so different from my other three. He is extremely mechanical compared to them, even his little hands have more dexterity and look less chubby-baby than his 6-year-old brother. I just think he uses his little brain-developing cells in other ways right now, so I'm not worried even though we qualify for free speech therapy at this point. I'm enjoying watching him grow in a different way than the other three, and look forward to his achievements throughout his life.

    July 4, 2011 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tiffany

      Have you ever had his hearing tested?

      July 5, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • Kristie

      Yes, we had his hearing tested by a specialist. And, I can tell he hears well b/c he can her thunder well before I can LOL.

      July 5, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
  39. Diane

    I was a late talker but I made noises which made it clear that I knew what was going on or could express my like or dislike for something. One day around my late 2s, and I mean this quite literally, I 'realized' that I could talk and that the 'static' that had been in my head when others spoke, completely cleared. Then I spoke full sentences. It also turns out that I have a gift for languages and am fluent in French, speak some Spanish and Italian. I can even pronounce words in Russian and Ordu with a very good accent. And for what it's worth, I am a pretty good singer and play piano. I've always wondered whether there is a connection.

    July 4, 2011 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. ash

    Kristie, your child almost four with only a handful of words? Please contact your school district and ask to speak with their Early Childhood Special Education program. They will evaluate your son and determine if he would benefit from some early intervention. Please do this now. It might be as you say, that he just uses his mind differently. But you really don't want to take a chance on something as important as communication skills.

    July 4, 2011 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. ash

    Oh wait – he already qualifies for speech therapy? I was a late talker myself and spoke in complete sentences when I started – but that was at 2. Almost 4 – your son needs some intensive intervention now. What are you going to do when he goes to kindergarten and finds he can't communicate in class with his 'handful' of words?

    July 4, 2011 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristie

      He won't be four until the very end of April. And, the ped said he wasn't worried b/c of how well he communicates, behaves and he hears well (according to tests and according to his responses). His words are Daddy, Mama, car, bath, snack, ball and no. He does get close to "yes", but it is more of a "yah"... we do live in the south :). He has several specific sounds for lots of things that we all know what he means. And, I started trying to teach him sign language to help with communication. The ped said it would not hinder his speech and was a good idea. He catches onto it right away (faster than I do, and faster than I myself can learn it and show him). I think that is probably b/c he is so much more "hands-on" (keep in mind I am nobody, I don't have any kind of kid-background besides having four kids) He can count, add, he understands and can create object relationship, etc., just all the little preschool stuff for his age, he is just not patient enough to form the words. He follows verbal direction, is pottytrained (which he basically did himself – again probably b/c he is number four and I am was in no hurry to run him into a yucky public restroom every time he "thought" he needed to go, but he wanted to wear underwear, so I let him and he has never gone back), he did walk a little late, maybe 14 months or so. We do plan to "red-shirt" him for Kindergarten. But, I'm honestly, not too worried yet. I have a good relationship with my ped, his church teacher who sees him regularly is a highly educated early childhood professional of many years, and his school teachers (after they kind of learned his "language") have no trouble with him and his participation (beyond the normal 3-year-old stuff). But, it is always in the back of mind to monitor and I'm glad to know that there is help availalbe. On a side note: The helpful tone and genuine interest of this message board is markedly different from the others that I read, so I really appreciate that.

      July 5, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  42. Mare0568

    This article really doesn't help much at all. Do another study, get a different response. Case in point: My son is now 16. He is in NHS, in the top 10% of his class, no emotional or behavioral problems (other than being a normal 16 year old boy). He did not really speak much at all until after the age of 2 and then he just started chattering - but only to those people he knew and was comfortable with. He was very SHY up until about 12 years old or so but did fine in the lower grades. He wasn't overly "chatty" but he was normal. I was concerned also when he was very small as his sister started saying words at around 9 months (also walked at 9 months). HOWEVER, I have been raising my step-son since the age of 2 (his mother died) and he has had nothing BUT behavioral and other problems. He has been diagnosed with PDD (which is also in the Autism spectrum) and a myriad of other things. He is 13 1/2 and is presently in the 9th month of a stay at an RTF because he tried to burn our house down three times and threatened to slit my daughter's boyfriend's neck. HE has ALWAYS talked - since before 2 when I got him. And he NEVER shuts up. He even talks to himself (and answers himself). So basically both of these children are the exact opposites of the results of this study.

    July 4, 2011 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Greg

    I was a late talker. I did not speak until I was almost 4 years old. I had a severe speach impediment which I eventualy grew out of with the help of speach therapy. I had to attend speach therapy until I was in grade six.
    I am now in my thirties and have no speach or other issues.

    July 4, 2011 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Anne

    I can remember my Dad saying that one of my uncles didn't start talking until he was 4 yrs. old-and hasn't shut up since. Today that uncle is 95 yrs. old and a multi-millionaire and he's still a talker. Nowadays according to the experts if your child ihasn't done something at a certain age, there's something wrong with them. Seems their just pushing the kids along into adulthood without them having a real childhood. Is it no wonder then that we have babies having babies before their 12 yrs. old?

    July 5, 2011 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Tiffany

    When my son turned 2 1/2 and wasn't being very verbal I got him involved in an "Infant and Toddler" program. It was recommended by his day care provider and funded through the public school system. It is the best kept secret of your tax dollars hard at work. Not only was he tested by a speech pathologist, audiologist and all the other people that need to be involved but they come to my house and were so incredibly wonderful.

    I always knew my son would catch up, and has, but I mostly found it helpful with cutting down on his fustration and tantrums because I didn't know what he wanted. If you are concearned your child has a communication issue look into what is available through your school system. I think it's ok to be a late talker but I also think it's ok to be as proactive in your childs development as possible. My son is more relaxed and less fustrated, and so am I.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. FunkyWalker

    Myself, I was a late 'coherent' talker. According to my mother, I had developed my own way of communicating that she was able to undestand perfectly fine. It didn't become clear to her until one day after she picked me up from day care (I was 4), that one of the kids asked what was wrong with the way I spoke. I was put in speech classes when I started elementary, and, but the end of my 1st grade year, I was "normal"

    Conversely, I started walking around 6 or 7 months... so I used all my initial brain power for one thing: those wafers are on the table, I need to be able to reach said table, let's try moving on these two sticks of meat coming out of my lower body.

    July 5, 2011 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. uhuh

    My son changes my oil for me as well as teaches advanced thermodynamics at the local community college. He'll be turning 6 in a few weeks.

    July 5, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. StClown

    I'm told that I was a late talker. i didn't start saying words until I was almost three, and then it all the words just came gushing forth. Until then I just pointed and grunted, whimpered or cried – depending upon if you ask one of my brothers or someone not looking to paint me in a humiliating light – when I needed something.

    I ended up starting kindergarten with the rest of the kids my age, but had some struggles the first few years. Then in fourth grade I started doing really well in classes. I ended up graduating with my BA in economics at 21. Like everything else in a study such as this, not everyone will follow the hypothesized trends.

    July 5, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. zooloo

    My son was a late talker. We were all so worried. He was also a late walker. Now at three years old, he runs around and talks and talks and asks the most amazing questions. People – please dn't connect mental issues with lack of speech. Some kids have the nerves to the monuth and vocal cords develop later while the brain if firing full power. Give it time and enroll i speech therapy (free) from your local school.

    July 5, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Gail

    My late talker who only sing-sang and blew "raspberries" till age 2, turned out to be HS valedictorian and is graduated from RIT in 3 years working as a biotech engineer

    July 5, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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