Speech Therapy Approaches for Late Talkers

From early childhood onwards, communication is a central part of life. We use language to share thoughts and feelings with others, and we also speak as a way to connect and make friends. Natural speech develops over time in a number of stages, with some children learning to speak very quickly and others experiencing delays in language development. If your child is a “late talker,” specific speech therapy approaches can help support your child’s language development.

What is a late talker?

Late talking or late language emergence (LLE) is defined as a delay in language onset with no other diagnosed disabilities or developmental delays. A diagnosis is given when language development trajectories fall below age expectations. One common guideline of late talking is using less than 50 words and/or not using two-word combinations by two years of age. It is important to note that each child is unique and may achieve communication milestones at their own pace.

Common therapy techniques for late talkers

There are various strategies used to support late talking, with interventions based on the age of the  child, their current level of communication, and the existence of other disabilities or conditions.

Generally speaking, earlier interventions are likely to have better outcomes. The following techniques can be beneficial:

Vocabulary building

When your child is stimulated by the world around them, they’re more likely to want to describe it. This strategy includes parallel talk, which means mentioning reference points rather than directly modelling words. Children need a reason to speak, so spend time interacting with objects, pictures, and people as a way to build an understanding of the world.

Focused language stimulation

While general language building is effective, focused techniques can also be very useful. There are lots of methods available, including self-talk strategies, where you describe actions and feelings, and word goals, where you give your child specific targets to learn and produce. While the previous strategy was about understanding, this technique is more about repetition.

Signs and gestures

Along with using the language itself, several late talking techniques utilise visual and kinaesthetic cues. The use of specific signs or abstract gestures can help build understanding and reduce frustration while a child is learning. With this technique, you can expand on your child’s communication by adding examples and words. For instance, if your child is pointing or reaching for something, you can link this gesture to a word.

Helpful tips

Along with these specific techniques, the following tips are beneficial for most children:

  • Use constant encouragement.
  • Reduce questions.
  • Utilise visual and gestural cues.
  • Play games and encourage fun.
  • Read aloud as much as possible.

A Speechie Speech Pathology provides detailed assessments and interventions to encourage language development. We support children with speech clarity, comprehension, talking, social communication, stuttering, reading, spelling, and play. Please talk to our team to learn more.

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