Late Talkers Grow Up Ok
Moms with late talking toddlers can finally rest knowing that odds are in their favor that the children will not be any more likely than normal talkers to develop social or behavioral problems, and the majority will exhibit age-appropriate speech by kindergarten.
Pediatrics Journal released findings of an Australian study conducted beginning in 1989. The study followed 2900 women from pregnancy through the children's teenage years to determine the relationship between speech and behavior problems.
The study, conducted in the form of a survey called the child behavior checklist which was sent to women during pregnancy and when children turned 2, 5, 8, 10, 14 and 17 years, looked at spontaneous expressive speech, behavioral problems and the tendency to internalize or externalize difficulties. It also asked for maternal schooling, smoking and drinking habits and socioeconomic status.
Late talkers were identified as children who scored at or below the 15th percentile of language development for their gender at age 2, but had ruled out any other developmental delays.
Of those participating in the study, 9.9% of children were identified as late talkers at age 2. By the time they entered kindergarten, 70-80% of those children had caught up with their peers who had exhibited normal language skills. In middle school and high school years, late talkers did not exhibit any higher tendency for behavior problems than the control group.
In fact, the only time that late talkers showed more behavioral problems was at age 2, when the late talking was identified.
The two socioeconomic factors that did appear to contribute to late talkers were maternal education and family income. 43.4% of women with normal talkers had completed secondary school, while just 39.4% of women with delayed talkers had completed secondary school. 26.8% of families with normal talkers earned less than $24,000 AUS annually, while 44.4% of delayed talkers earned the same.Continued on the next page