My Son is a Late Talker

As a speech therapist, this page is hard to write, but I believe important to discuss. My son is a late talker, gasp! 

Logically, I know, it does not matter if my child is not talking as much as his friends. But as a parent, it can be difficult.  I hope to show parents of late talkers that they are not alone and it is not your fault. There are many fun ways to help this process along!

My adorable son is wonderful at so many things. He is an expert at building towers, running, climbing, exploring, running some more, smiling at everyone, and greeting every person he sees with a “hi” or “bye.” He loves to turn pages in books, eats all of his fruits and vegetables, won’t touch cakes or cookies, gives an abundant amount of hugs, sleeps in until 8:00 am everyday, follows all my directions to pick up toys or get ready to go “bye bye,” and still runs and jumps in my arms when I pick him up from daycare.

The one thing lagging behind...is talking. My son is a late talker.

I have come to terms with this already but I did have a brief career crisis....I mean.... I help, on a daily basis, parents of late talkers, right?! Don’t I know what I'm talking about?

This has been an eye opening experience! My adorable child (who I wouldn't change one thing about  him) has taught me a lot. I now have more empathy for parents. I know what they are going through. I know HOW HARD it can be not to compare children. I know how annoying it is when another parent, well meaning of course, asks...is your child talking yet?


How I Remain Calm and Happy


Even though I may get frustrated at times, I'M NOT a bit worried about my son. I do have my eye on him; however, I know my son and the house he grows up in. I know his screen time is limited, he is exposed to lots of language all day long, and he has many language learning opportunities. I know that I am doing everything possible to help him at this time. I really do practice what I preach!

Also, he has achieved many other major milestones which are very important prerequisites for expressive language development (talking).


So, what is going on here?


I will be give you some personal details to get a better picture of what is going on. My son is  20 months old. He is being raised in a bilingual home. He has a family history of late talkers, articulation delays, and language disorders. 

His strengths (he has a lot!): His receptive language is fantastic in both English and Spanish. He can follow 1-2 step directions in both languages. He has great social skills. He smiles, takes turns, and even tries to engage other children in his play. His attention for active play is fantastic! He is incredibly curious. He points to pictures in books. He knows his routine but is flexible when it changes. He understands “no.” He imitates funny noises and motor tasks such as kissing a mirror easily.  He points to all his body parts. And, he is just so darn cute!!

Areas of need: Imitating words: He is good at imitating sounds and noises, but not words. Expressive Vocabulary: He only says “mama,” “papa,” “hi,” “bye,” “bye bye (to go out),” “help,” and “up” consistently. He has said “milk,” “abra (open in Spanish),” “hola,” and “papa (Spanish for potato),” “block,” "ball," and “mine” one or two times but not consistently. Sitting for a short story: My active child does not like to sit for stories. The world is just too big and exciting. He must be exploring at all times :)


My Plan: What I Do To Encourage First Words


I continue to use my language learning techniques such as offering choices and/or 3 Strikes and You Win.

I provide lots and lots of language input but still give adequate wait time for him to respond.

I now (this is an experiment) read books with my son while he stands and I sit. This has been working! Just today, I got him to repeat "ball," "mama," "papa," "baby," and "house." I sit in the chair and he can stand, spin, or walk around the room while I read. To my surprise, he almost always wonders over to the book and remains engaged for almost 5-6 minutes at a time. This is a HUGE improvement.

I explore the world with him, get on the floor and play, model language and refrain from pressuring him too much to speak.

Of course, I will monitor his progress and reach out if he isn’t making progress.





Is your child a late talker? Does your child have a speech language disorder?

Please share your experiences! All parents will benefit. I promise!

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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