"He's already two years old........I just want him to say Mummy"
This is a very common wish I hear parents say when they first attend an initial Speech Therapy consult of a child they feel are not talking as much as their peers of the same age. The general consensus is that “late talkers” are young children (between 18 & 30 months of age) that do not meet the talking milestones considered typical for development -but their understanding seems fine. Typical development of play skills, motor skills, thinking skills, and social skills are also often in place, but they are just using a limited number of spoken words for his or her age.
"What are Typical Spoken Word Milestones?"
Parents often feel guilty when they compare their child’s speech development to other children at playgroups or in the park…. aren’t we always told not to compare our child with others. Don’t we always hear “All children develop at their own pace”. Sometimes these thoughts are used when looking for an explanation for a child’s delayed talking development. While children do develop at their own pace to some extent, we know that there are certain milestones which should be reached by a specific age. When they are not reached, this becomes cause for concern with potential long-term implications for school readiness and early social skill development.
Spoken Word Milestones
The following milestones can help you determine if your child’s Spoken Vocabulary is appropriate for his or her age. If your child has not yet reached these milestones, parents are advised to seek support – such as obtaining advise and ideas from a speech-language pathologist. Remember the number of Spoken Words shown below are the lowest that are expected for the ages shown………. however typically children of these ages are saying 2 to 3 times the number of words listed:
18 month olds
· 18 month olds should use least 20 words, including different types of words, such as “thing words” (“baby”, “ball), action words (“eat”, “go”), place words (“up”, “down”), describing words (“hot”, “sleepy”), and social words (“hi”, “bye”).
Find Out How Many Words
YOUR Child Uses Today!
With our online interactive checklist
24 month olds
· 24 month olds should use at least 100 words and combine 2 words together. These word combinations should be generated by the child, and not be combinations that are “memorized bites” of language, such as “thank you”, “bye bye”, “all gone”, or “What’s that?”. By 2 years of age talking should contain true word combinations such as “Daddy gone”, “eat banana”, or “yukky hands”. The speech may not always be clear at this age but the word attempts are present and understood by parents and unfamiliar people.
IS YOUR CHILD
a LATE TALKER?
How many times have we heard that Einstein was late to talk? BUT……We don’t hear about all the other late talkers that “could have been like an Einstein but didn’t meet their full potential”.
This collision of their “gut feeling telling them to seek advice” and people surrounding them to “wait & see” can be a very confusing situation for parents who only want the best for their children.
Research shows that up to one-third of late talkers with no other developmental concerns do infact “catch-up” in the preschool years. However, currently confident determination of which toddlers will catch-up and which ones won’t, is virtually impossible. Getting advice and listening to your gut feelings if you think your child is looking like a “late talker” may be a better plan than hoping your child will fall into the one-third catch up group. The odds are not great without direction from a professional that knows how to work with toddlers to optimise development.Dale, P., Price, T., Bishop, D., & Plomin, R. (2003). Outcomes of early language delay: I. Predicting persistent and transient language difficulties at 3 and 4 years. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 544-560
About the author
Dr Sandra McMahon, Speech Pathologist, PhD is clinical and research paediatric speech pathologists that has worked as the Director of Speech Pathology at a major metropolitan Children’s Hospital, lectures at University in the area of early child communication and literacy development & disorders and a consultant to Kindergartens and Child Care Centres. Dr McMahon is currently the Founder, Director and Senior Speech Pathologist of the multi-disciplinary SpeechNet Speech Pathology & Learning Centre. Dr McMahon is frequently invited to present to parent groups, educational facilities, Speech Pathology Clinical Development events & conferences. She is certified practising member of the Australian Speech Pathology Association.
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