Late Talker Therapy 101

As parents, caregivers, or therapists of late talkers, understanding and implementing effective strategies can play a pivotal role in nurturing their communication skills.

In this post, I will share my valuable strategies to support late talkers on their journey to successful language development, fostering their confidence, and enriching their ability to communicate effectively.

Overview of Speech therapy for late talkers

I DO NOT believe in cookie-cutter programs for any language treatment. I FIRMLY believe that every child who walks through my door is unique (considering thier language skills, cultural background, temperament, home life, etc...).

Therefore, NO treatment program should ever look the same.

Instead, I have a "template program" that I created and adapt to each family, making weekly changes as needed. Each client will start at a different point and progress in a different way. 

Late Talker Therapy "Plan"

The utmost importance in ANY late talker treatment plan is family involvment! My whole approach to therapy is finding ways to support the child outside the treatment room. I acoomplish with therapy (obviosuly) and thoughtful handouts given at the right moment for each client. 

To get started:

After I complete an assessment,

  • I compile how much background knowledge the family already has
  • Look at standardized/non-standarized data
  • Review data from stimulibity testing from language techniques
  • Create goals

Based on this, I start therapy and provide handouts as needed. The handouts/topics described below aren't necessary for every client.

Create a Language-Rich Environment

For those who need it (most do), I review how to surround a late talker with a language-rich environment which is fundamental to their growth.

This means we need to review with SOME parents on HOW TO & WHY they must:

  • Play with their child (and work on language)
  • Follow their child’s lead
  • Arrange environment to encourage communication
  • Use simplified/intentional language during daily interactions

I recommend doing this at the beginning of treatment!

You can review this anyway you see fit. At Speech Therapy membership, I have handouts for these strategies with varying levels of details (some with scripts/some not).

Handouts are available in SPANISH and ENGLISH! 

Encourage Imitation

Frequently, late talkers will need to learn imitation! Some children might:

  • not be imitating at ALL
  • be able to imitate gestures but not words
  • can imitate words but APPEAR to choose not to (most likely doesn’t have time to respond :)).

Due to this, I created parent handouts with the needed information depending on WHERE the child falls in the continuum. Not everyone needs to start at the beginning.

Language Technique Handouts

Model language

  • I created a handout that reviews what not to do, when to model words, how to model words, and why to model words
  • For my information on this, please check out my Modeling Language For Late Talkers page.

Withholding an Object 

  • Many times, parents will withhold objects in order to encourage their children to start talking.
  • While this technique comes from a good place, it can be cruel if not used properly or at the right time.  
  • You may need to review HOW to do this technique appropriately. 

Encourage first words through modeling techniques

  • At Speech Therpay Talk Membership, I created my "3 strikes and you win" technique.
  • This technique encourages children to use words to communicate needs using a combination of modeling and approriate wait/response time.

Word/Sentence Expansion (increasing MLU)

  • Some children will start at this stage! They may be saying single words already but will need help expanding those words (creating 2-3 word phrases).
  • I'm partial to be my "repeat-expand-repeat" technique pictured below.

Asking Questions

  • Therapists and parents of late talkers don't want to ask too many questions of course, but there are times when they must.
  • Some parents must learn HOW to ask questions effectively 

If you want more details on these ALL THE STRATEGIES, please click here. 

Progress trackers

For most families, I encourage them to TRACK PROGRESS. However, this may look different for each family. 

I either track:

  • Common first words (checklists to mark off)
  • Track categories (encourage modeling of a VARIETY of words)
  • Milestone tracker (track progress across a variety of speech and language skills)

For more information, click here.

Access Materials

I hope you enjoyed these therapy tips! If you need materials, you have 2 options!

Speech Therapy Talk Members, click the button below.

If you would like to access these materials and 3,000+ materials, click the button below.

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