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At What Age is a Child Considered To Be a ‘Late Talker’?

It’s easy to compare our kids’ development to others’. We see our friends whose kids are already initiating conversations and naming pictures in books, and we wonder why our precious toddler is still using gestures and grunts to communicate.

Many children can have well-developed skills in a wide range of areas, but be behind their peers when it comes to talking. So at what point is a child considered to be a ‘late talker’?

When is a child considered to be a Late Talker?

A simple rule of thumb is that children should:

  1. Make lots of babbling and cooing noises as an infant

  2. Start to say single words around 12 months of age

  3. Begin to use short phrases such as “Daddy car”, “More juice”, “Mummy go” between 18-24 months.

Children who are not meeting these milestones are at risk of being late talkers. If your child hasn’t reached these developmental stages, we recommend that you see a Speech Pathologist as soon as possible.

What are the consequences of being a Late Talker?

Language is the basis of thinking and learning. We use language to comprehend what we hear, store information in our memory, and understand what we read. Children require well-developed language skills to develop their thinking, communicate with others, learn new ideas, and develop their literacy.

It has been said that from 0-5 years children are busy learning language, and from 5 years onwards they use language to learn. Children who are slower to develop their speech and language skills are therefore at greater risk of being ‘left behind’ when it comes to thinking, learning and developing literacy in their preschool years and beyond.

How can a Speech Pathologist help?

Speech Pathologists are professionals who can assess a child’s speech and language development. Before a child begins to use words and sentences, there are many foundational skills that must be developed. At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we take a holistic view of a child’s communication. We consider:

  1. How and why a child is currently engaging with others

  2. Why the child is communicating, and what motivates them

  3. What strategies they are using to communicate (e.g. looks, gestures, sounds)

  4. What pre-verbal and verbal skills they has

  5. How they responds to communication (understanding others, taking turns)

  6. The words and concepts the child understands and uses

  7. How family dynamics contribute to the child’s communication skills

At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we believe in working with families to give your child the best possible start in life. In line with current research, we strongly recommend early intervention. The earlier a child’s communication issues are addressed, the sooner the child will be able to ‘close the gap’ with their peers and be ready for the rigours of preschool.

Our team of experience Speech Pathologists offer individual assessment and intervention-support for Late Talkers and their families.

To find out how you can support your Late Talker, read our post on Helping Late Talkers or give our friendly team a call on 4948 9800.

We’d love to help you!

Alison McDonald

Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

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