Late Talkers and When to Seek Help

Are you wondering if your child is ever going to talk?  Do you find yourself trying not to worry about it because your pediatrician said, “Sally will talk when she is ready.”  My rule of thumb is to ALWAYS trust your gut!  I am a huge advocate for early assessment and intervention for 3 major reasons:

  1. A specialist (Speech-Language Pathologist) will be able to answer most of your questions after spending some time with your child and will make the necessary recommendations.
  2. There could be another reason for the delayed speech that would require referrals to other professionals.
  3. The sooner the child starts therapy, the easier it will be to remediate their current patterns (and the parents) that will give way to improved speech production.

I’m sure you are asking yourself, ‘what are the red flags for language delay?’  The great thing about living in the age of technology is that you can put these 👆🏻 words directly into a search engine and you will pull up pages of articles on developmental milestones.  I will save you the trouble though and outline the ones I pay the most attention to.  Some of these are adapted from The Hanen Centre and some come from my 10+ years of experience working with children.

By 12 months

  • doesn’t babble with changes in tone – e.g. dadadadadadadadada or varied vowels – e.g. dadadededodo
  • doesn’t use gestures like waving “bye bye” or shaking head for “no”
  • doesn’t respond to her/his name
  • doesn’t communicate in some way when he/she needs assistance

By 15 months

  • doesn’t understand and respond to words like “no” and “up”
  • has less than 5 words in vocabulary
  • doesn’t point to objects or pictures when asked “Where’s the…?
  • doesn’t point to things of interest as if to say “Look at that!”  and then look right at you
  • doesn’t engage in play with others

By 18 months

  • doesn’t understand simple commands like “Don’t touch”
  • isn’t using at least 20 single words like “Mommy” or “go”
  • doesn’t respond with a word or gesture to a question such as “What’s that? or “Where’s your shoe?”
  • can’t point to two or three major body parts such as head, nose, eyes, feet

By 24 months

  • says fewer than 100 words
  • isn’t consistently joining two words together like “Daddy go” or “ shoes on”
  • doesn’t imitate actions or words
  • doesn’t pretend with toys, such as feeding doll or pushing car/stroller

By 30 months 

  • says fewer than 300 words
  • isn’t using action words like “run”, “eat”, “fall”
  • isn’t using some adult grammar, such as “two babies” and “doggie sleeping
  • isn’t following simple directions, such as “Get your shoes.”

3-4 years 

  • doesn’t ask questions by 3 years
  • isn’t using sentences (e.g., “I don’t want that” or “My truck is broken”)  by three years
  • isn’t able to tell a simple story by four or five years

*Remember, these are not developmental milestones, these are RED FLAGS that signal you to seek a professional opinion on what could be going on.  If you have questions about any of this, send me an email at shelley@empowertelespeech. com or give me a call at 512-593-8314 to chat.  I offer FREE over the phone consultations and from there can offer suggestions and recommendations.