Do Toddlers With Speech Delays Catch Up?


More often than not, a late-talking child is one whose vocabulary isn’t as extensive for their age but is otherwise on track in other areas of development. While it’s understandable to leave the situation alone since many kids do catch up eventually, medical professionals tell us that we shouldn’t be so quick to make that decision.


Do late-talking toddlers grow out of their predicament? Let’s check out what research has to say, so we can make the best decisions to address our child’s speech development needs.

Two Paths for Children With Speech Delays
If you have a late-talking toddler, consider these two routes that they could be taking according to professionals:

1. Not Growing Out of Their Speech and Language Delays
The fact that there’s at least a 20 percent chance that your child could be on this particular journey is worrisome. That means the likely reason for your youngster’s speech delay is either a physical or cognitive issue. In this case, your child will most likely have a language disorder diagnosis after a visit to the doctor.

2. Catching Up to Their Peers Before the Start of School
Your child could also be part of the 50 to 70 percent of late-talkers who eventually catch up to their peers. He or she could simply be classified as a late-bloomer who’s working on their timeline.

These kids will test “normal” in terms of general language skills, especially since they’re unlikely to be exceptional in speech and language. Also, because they had delayed speech in the first place, they will encounter language and speech problems to a certain degree in the future.

Other Weaknesses of Late Talkers
If your child happens to be a late bloomer, they may not be as strong in the following areas as their peers who did not go through speech delays:

●       Language and Literacy: Your little ones may not be as good with their grammar, listening and reading comprehension, story creation, writing, and vocabulary compared to normally developing children of the same age. They might also fall short in terms of phonology, which is knowing the rules of sounds used in language.

●       Language-Related Skills: Late-talkers might not be as adept as their peers socially, behaviorally, and functionally. They may not be as good at planning, paying attention, or having control over their impulsive behavior as children who are on schedule with their speech milestones.

●       Brain Processing of Speech: Usually, three- to five-year-old children with a history of speech delay won’t be able to process verbal speech as good as other kids. That is due to their poorly developed speech processing skills that interfere with their literacy development and language progress.

These differences may not seem that significant, but it also clearly implies that “growing out” of a speech delay doesn’t mean coming out of it unscathed. Kids who manage to do so will still be at a disadvantage when it comes to language and literacy progress at a later age.

Solutions for Toddlers With Speech Delays
As far as late-talking is concerned, early intervention remains one of the best and most effective solutions. Through this method, you can significantly increase a child’s odds of long-term literacy and language success.

Certain factors indicate how significant the risk is for a late-talking child to experience ongoing difficulties. Some of these include:

●       History of hearing impairment

●       Limited ability to use several consonant sounds

●       Does not copy words said to them

●       Speaks mostly nouns and barely uses verbs

●       Has a hard time connecting actions and ideas

●       History of learning difficulties and communication delay in the family

●       Does not comprehend well for their age

●       Barely uses gestures to communicate

If any of these risk factors accompany your child’s limited vocabulary, he or she must receive some form of early intervention. The Speech and Sound Clinic strongly recommends a set of activities where you engage your child through speech and language throughout their early childhood years.

That said, as effective as these solutions are, they should never be considered a substitute for working with a speech-language pathologist. Any situation involving a late-talking child should call for one. Your best chance of helping your child overcome speech and language delays and their effects is to have them evaluated by a professional as early as possible.

What You Should Do Whether They Catch Up or Not
Although research dictates that the majority of late-talkers grow out of their situation, it also suggests that there’s a good chance these children might not come out of it unscathed.

Whether your child belongs to the percentage of late-talkers who do not grow out of their delay or the group that can catch up to their peers before school, you should always make it a point to consult a speech-language pathologist about your concerns. In that way, you would know how best to address the respective problems each “late-talking” path entails.

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Do Toddlers With Speech Delays Catch Up?
More often than not, a late-talking child is one whose vocabulary isn’t as extensive for their age but is otherwise on track in other areas of development.
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