18 month old not talking – Toddler Slow to talk
18 month old not talking is it OK? Some toddlers are slow to talk and some are advanced! Slow to talk 18 month old toddlers are often referred to as “late talkers”. A Late talker in the early toddler period is usually defined as an 18 month old that is not spontaneously saying more than 18-20 words. Hence an 18 month old not talking would be considered slow to talk. Even anything less than 50 words at 18 months of age would suggest the child is at risk of being a late talker. This is because in typically developing children many children are saying over 200 words already.
How many words should an 18 month old toddler be saying?
Spoken words: Not what they are understanding but what word a 18 month is SAYING.
AT RISK of being a late talker
= < than 50 spoken words
Doing OK for their age
= 51 to 210 spoken words
Heading towards Advanced for age
= 220+ spoken words.
An 18 month old not talking – seek advice from a Child Speech Pathologist
Many parents are given the advice to “wait and see” when an 18 month old is not talking. This can be because children at 18 months can seem still be very young to be worrying about their speech. We also know that there are extreme variations in the number of spoken words at 18 months. Children saying anything from 51 words to 210 words at 18 would be considered “within the average range”! However, an 18 month old saying 50 words will seem a lot more immature than an 18 month old saying over 200 words.
Research is suggesting to seek early intervention assessments and ideas if an 18 month old is not talking or using less than 18-20 spoken words. Ensure the speech pathology service works closely with late talking young children providing early intervention services.
For children falling into the “at risk” range it would be strongly recommended to seek early intervention ideas that you can use in your everyday interactions with children to boost or prevent them going down the late talker path.
What does it mean if an 18 month old is not talking?
Late talking in the toddler period has been linked with a range of concerns impacting on them in later developmental periods. Late talking toddlers have shown less success on measures of school readiness and the ability to cope with peer interactions (avoiding biting episodes, being bullied, social confidence in making and keeping friends) when early intervention is not sought.
Late talking in the early stages of development may also be a red flag for bigger concerns such as global developmental delays or even autism. Seeking advice as an early intervention precaution can alleviate these concerns. At worse you will get ideas on how to reduce the impact on late talking on their developmental potential. Understanding a parent’s role in boosting toddler talk is vital. Parent tips, resources and online parent tools (e.g., FOCUS ON TODDLER TALK) can assist parents in their role in encouraging talking skills.
18 month old might be talking but can still have delayed toddler talk
18 month old only saying some words
1. 18 month olds can only name some objects but not others
The types of words an 18 month old is saying is just as important as the number of words they are saying.
Many 18 month old children start to talk but just label “things” (nose, biscuit, ball, mummy). Even the things named can be very narrow.
- For example, they might be able to name all the body parts but do not have labels for the foods they see all the time (e.g., sandwich, drink, apple). Some can count to 10 but don’t say the names of their own toys! This is generally thought to reflect an early delay in toddler talk.
Spoken word vocabularies are very large for typically developing 18 month olds because they do say words from lots of different categories. These words from the different categories add up to form an ever-expanding spoken vocabulary.
- For example, if an 18 month old has a few words for toys (bike, ball, car), for everyday objects (cup, blankie, teddy), for foods (bickie, milk, banana), for transport items (boat, car, truck, bus, plane), for animal names (cat, dog, bird, tiger, elephant) for playground equipment (swing, ladder), for book/TV characters (Paw Patrol, Thomas) – we already have over 20 words!
Completing an online SPOKEN WORD COUNTER can help you to list the different types of words your 18 month old is saying so you can observe if the range of words being said broad or narrow.
2. 18 month olds are not using action or describing words
Some 18 months old are only labelling “things” and talking about the actions that match the things. E.g., might say “book” but not “read”.
Other word types like action words (jump, eat, splashing) and position words (e.g.., in, on) are vital for early vocabulary development. The number of words being said can be very reduced if these types of words are not being said by the toddler.
Completing a “proper” Spoken Word Count
Such as the online The SPOKEN WORD COUNTER is a great way to monitor if your child’s early speech development is on track with a wide range of word types being incorporated into the toddler talking online checklist. Child speech pathologists will ask not only how many words does your 18 month say but also what kinds of words? Having a confident answer by completing the word counter first may save you time and money.
18 month old not talking – What can be done.
Seek advice from a Speech Pathologist or health professional. Early intervention is always recommended. A Speech Pathologist will assist in a developmental assessment to find your child’s communication strengths and gaps. If concerns about other areas of development arise (e.g., global developmental delays) the speech pathologist will discuss with you other health professionals and contacts you can see to address any arising concerns. Medical, hearing, vision and other ears of development may be checked.
If you have any concerns talk to your health professional. You can always send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org and an early intervention Speech Pathologist will respond to you!
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