Late Language Emergence
Late language emergence, more commonly known as late talker, occurs when there is a delay in onset of language and the child has no other disabilities or delays. There doesn’t appear to be a cause.
About 10-20% of 2-year-olds are considered a late talker.
Risks Factors For Late Language Emergence
Risk factors DON’T mean that a child will have late language emergence. Risk factors are NOT causes.
Common Risk Factors:
- Delayed motor development
- Low birth weight/premature birth
- Family history of late talkers
- Mother’s level of education
- Lower SES status
To combat these risk factors (there are always things you can do to help) you can try:
- Receive good pre- and post- natal care
- Expose a child to vocabulary, grammar, and varied social situations
- Create responsive learning environments
- READ, READ, READ with your child
- Create structured and unstructured play opportunities (both are equally important)
- Enroll in speech therapy if needed
- Create alternative communication systems such as use of visuals, sign language, and/or gestures
What does a late talker look like?
Contrary to popular belief, being a late talker is more than not just saying words.
A child who is a late talker or has late language emergence may have any of the following characteristics:
- Delayed vocabulary acquisition: fewer than 50 words by 24 months of age
- No 2-word combinations by 24 months of age
- Decreased use of gestures
- Slow development of sentence structure
- Use of shorter mean length of utterance (MLU)
- Delayed articulation development
- Difficulty with language comprehension
- Immature phonological development
Will my child just catch up?
This is a loaded question that is difficult to answer. Many parents wonder, is my child a late talker or is my child just a late bloomer?
Some quick tips:
- Usually, late bloomers use more gestures to communicate in the absences of expressive language
- Late bloomers rarely have any delays in language comprehension
If you want more detailed information on this topic, please refer to our late bloomer page.
I live in a bilingual home and I am raising my children to be bilingual. I also had a son with late language emergence. So, I GET IT! Read about updates on my family here.
If your child is bilingual, the one take-home message I want you to remember is being bilingual DOES NOT CAUSE A CHILD TO BE A LATE TALKER, EVER! Read more about being a late talker and bilingual here!
So PLEASE don’t use only one language. Being bilingual will HELP!
- For more information on being a late talker and bilingual, click here.
- For tips raising a bilingual child, click here.
- To learn the basics on bilingualism and children, click here
Late Language Emergence Evaluation
To confirm if a child is a late talker, you need to schedule an evaluation.
To learn what an evaluation for a late talker looks like and what to expect, click here: Late Talker Evaluation page.
Late Talker Therapy Techniques
Many parents wonder what a speech-language pathologist can do when their child isn’t even talking yet. The answer is... well quite a lot.
Click on our late talker therapy page to learn about all the research-based therapy techniques out there today!
What you can do today!
Now, we are getting to the good stuff. What can you do about it!
There is actually A LOT you can do.
- First, read this page right now and then come back. You must learn how to talk to your child.
- Second, read this page. You must learn how to play with your toddler.
Okay, now you are ready for the games.
- Check out our favorite late talker games
- Consider our eBooks series!!! These will TRULY help!!! Toddler Talk 2.0 is for children who are only saying a few words. START HERE. You will learn how to encourage those first words.
- If your child is saying over 50 words, consider Toddler Talking 2.0. It is the boost your child needs!
For EVEN MORE IDEAS: