late-talker

For parents of late-talkers, patience can be a lesson worth the wait

July 4, 2011 at 11:40 AM ET

It turns out late-talkers just might get the last word, after all.

A new study finds that kids who talk later than average are no more at risk for behavioral and emotional problems then toddlers who were more expressive early on.

The findings are likely a sigh of relief for parents of late-talkers. But it doesn’t mean they’ll stop worrying about their kids’ speech delays.

We asked TODAY Moms readers to share on our Facebook page stories of their late-talking kids and how they handled the situation. We were inundated with anecdotes, ranging from people who sought speech therapy to people who patiently waited for the words to come. And in many cases, they did.

Taryn Millas Homick’s son was 2 years old and didn’t say many words at all.

“I was getting very nervous. At that point the doctor wasn't too concerned but wasn't opposed to referring Early Intervention if I wanted it. I waited on deciding. By 2 1/2 he was really making good headway and by 3 was speaking right where he should be for that age."

Ambrosia Low’s second son was a late-talker who babbled nonstop and had his big brother serve as translator.

We started looking for help and by the time we had private therapy lined up, he suddenly started speaking complete, clear sentences!

Of Nancy Shehata’s five kids, her second babbled from an early age but was completely incomprehensible.

“It wasn't until he was past three that all of a sudden he was speaking complete words and sentences, and now he is totally at grade level and expresses himself well.”

For Brandi Roberts, speech therapy turned out to be a godsend for her late-talking daughter. She was 2 and started with three to four words.

 “Now 6 months later she can say well over 200 words,” says Roberts, who adds that her daughter can also sign most of the words she can now saw. “I always look forward to tomorrow just to see and hear what new thing she will do next! I am so proud of my little girl!”

When Martha Mehegan’s son showed signs of late talking, they had him checked by a pediatrician who didn’t find any developmental delays.

“She advised us to read lots of books with him, practice animal sounds with him and include him in as much conversation as possible. Sure enough, over the last few months, he's picked up more than 60 words!” writes Mehegan.  “Just like some children walk sooner than others, children begin to talk at their own pace. Parents should keep in mind that verbal development is only one piece of the overall intelligence puzzle.”

Like many parents, Amanda Kirby was concerned about her late-talking second son, but realized she was wrongly comparing him to her first child, who “talked and put together sentences ridiculously early.” Her second son is “now 10 and won’t shut up, LOL. I think if anyone is really worried they should talk to their doctor, but don’t freak out yet.”

Was your child a late-talker? Share your experiences and lessons for other parents.

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