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Tots Who Are 'Late Talkers' Typically Turn Out Fine: Study
Date:7/5/2011

followed the children for the next 17 years, conducting five more language and psychosocial assessments, once every two to three years.

At age 2, the late-talkers had increased levels of behavioral and emotional problems, and Whitehouse said that the researchers suspect the reason for these issues at this age was because the toddlers were frustrated that they couldn't communicate.

He said that these behavioral and emotional issues didn't endure once the children achieved normal language milestones, and if the children had no other developmental delays.

"Our findings suggest that parents should not be overly concerned that late-talking at age 2 years will result in enduring language and psychological difficulties for the child. There is good evidence that most late-talking children will catch up to the language skills of other children," said Whitehouse.

"The best thing that parents can do is provide a rich language-learning environment for their children," he added. "This means getting down on the floor and playing with their child, talking with them, reading to them, interacting with them at their level."

"These findings are reassuring for parents. If toddlers just have an expressive language delay, it will often disappear by school age. And, an early history of an expressive language delay doesn't, in and of itself, put kids at risk for later emotional and behavioral problems," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.

Though not addressed in this study, Adesman said that delays in receptive language or responsiveness are of more concern and should be further evaluated. Following are some receptive language milestones:

  • At 15 months, a child should be able to follow a simple one-step command.
  • At 18 months, a child should be able to point to certain body parts when asked.
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