Late Talker: Evaluation

If you suspect your child is a late talker, a late talker evaluation is a must. Please don't delay. Research has proven time and time again that the sooner therapy begins, the better the outcome!

Late Talker Evaluation

Late talker evaluation typically includes...

Case history:

  • Review of previous medical records
  • Questionnaire for parents on development and concerns
  • Interview with teachers and parents to gather relevant concerns

Oral mechanism examination

  • Asses structure and function of articulators

Hearing Testing

  • Provided by an audiologist
  • Rules out hearing loss as a confounding factor

Evaluation of Production of Speech Sounds

  • Standardized tests provide standard scores and percentile ranks for speech sound production
  • Language sample (informal testing) may be used if a child cannot name pictures
  • If a child is not talking, this may not be done at the initial assessment
  • Some data on speech production is required for most insurance companies to qualify for therapy 

Language Sampling

  • Elicit and record a language sample
  • Provides assessment for language abilities in a more natural environment
  • Language sampling does not provide a standard score, but it provides invaluable information about a child’s speech and language abilities

Assessment of language skills (using norm or criterion referenced assessment tools, *see below)

  • Pragmatic language skills
  • Social interactions
  • Joint attention
  • Rate of communication
  • Rate of vocabulary growth
  • Vocabulary diversity (e.g., nouns, pronouns, relational words)
  • Word combinations
  • Mean length of utterance
  • Range of meanings expressed in early word combinations
  • Grammar skills
  • Receptive language
  • Play skills
  • Emergent literacy skills

Different Evaluation Tools:

Norm-Referenced Tests: provides standard scores of a child’s language skills compared with age-matched peers

Criterion-referenced tests and developmental scales: provides information about a child’s language skills compared to a set of predetermined criteria or developmental milestones

Parent interview/observation: information based on parent report and/or observation of a child across environments

Play-based assessment: uses play for the observation of language skills

Evaluation may result in:

  • Determination of a language delay (see late talker vs late bloomer)
  • Diagnosis of a language disorder (late language emergence)
  • Identification of delayed phonological development, delayed early literacy skills, and/or social communication problems
  • Description of the characteristics and severity of the disorder /delay
  • Recommendation for indirect or direct treatment (see above)
  • Referral to other professionals if needed 

What to do next

If your child has been diagnosed with a language delay or disorder, don’t panic. 10-20% of children receive this diagnosis.

Also, this is MY SPECIALTY so you are in good hands. I have a lot of resources for you. 

My recommended plan:

  1. Find a qualified speech-language pathologist that fits your family’s needs
  2. Contact me to schedule therapy
  3. Practice today with strategies provided in your evaluation report
  4. If you don’t have strategies, start with how to play with your toddler and how to talk to your toddler
  5. Join our membership program for a step-by-step guide on how to elicit those first words. 
  6. Buy one of our resources on how to help a late talker using language strategies during functional activities: Toddler Talk 2.0 and Toddler Talking

› Evaluation



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. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Author of  child language development eBook series


Reference:  Late Language Emergence. Retrieved 4 October 2017, from http://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Late-Language-Emergence/