Late Talkers or Late Language Emergence

Late language emergence, or “late talkers,” is a delay in the development and onset of language skills where there are no additional disabilities, motor deficiencies, or cognitive delays diagnosed. These children typically present with either a “mixed receptive and expressive language delay” or just an “expressive language delay.” An expressive language delay is usually characterized by a limited vocabulary and slowed articulation or sentence structure development while a “mixed” language delay typically presents with difficulty comprehending and producing language. If these diagnoses go untreated by a certified speech-language pathologist in speech therapy, it can result in development of language and literacy delays as the child ages and progresses through school. Additionally, it can be a sign of underlying disorders including but not limited to: specific language impairment, social communication disorder, autism spectrum disorder, learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, etc.

Some signs and symptoms of a “late talker” include but are not limited to:

·         Child uses little to no words/word combinations  by age of 18 mos. to 2 years o   Points and grunts instead of labeling, commenting or requesting

o   Exhibits little to no 2-word sentences by 2 years old

·         Child demonstrates a limited vocabulary o   Children should exhibit a vocabulary between 5-20 words by 18 months, 150-300 words by 2 years, and 900-1000 words by 3 years
·         Child exhibits frustration/behavior difficulties when attempts at communication fail


o   Tantrums occur when he/she is not understood

o   Little to no attention to tasks and acting out from difficulty communicating

·         Not pointing to objects or pictures


o   Will not identify pictures of animals or objects when given a verbal prompt by 12 months
·         Not answering questions appropriately/repeating a question as the answer


o   “Do you want juice?”… “want juice?”

o   “What did you have for breakfast?”… “I eat”

o   “Where do you sleep?” … “Blanket”

·         Difficulty with following multi-step directions o   “Get the toy, and give it to me”

o   “Take off your shoes, put them away, then wash your hands”

·         Difficulty with understanding/using pronouns o   “I”, “me”, “you”, “my”, “mine”, “he”, “she”, “they”, “his”, “hers”, “him”, “her”
·         Difficulty with understanding/using simple prepositions o   “on”, “off”, “over”, “under”, “front”, “back”, “next to”
·         Difficulty with understanding/using verbs or action words o   “run”, “eat”, “jump”, “play”, “drink”, “sleep”, “wash”, etc.


If your child exhibits any of these “red flags”, please don’t hesitate to contact our Pediatric Speech Therapy Center to schedule a language evaluation today!


North Hills ENT and Anderson Audiology have several convenient locations for Speech Therapy!

North Hills ENT – 817-595-3700
4351 Booth Calloway Road, Ste. 308
North Richland Hills, TX  76180

North Hills ENT– 817-595-3700
647 S. Great Southwest Pkwy., Ste. 103
Grand Prairie, TX  75051

Anderson Audiology – 817-282-8402
1550 Norwood Drive, Suite 100
Hurst, TX  76054

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