Is my child a “late bloomer” or does he have a language delay?

Because children achieve their speech and language milestones at different ages, it is relatively difficult to predict if a young child is a “late bloomer” and will eventually demonstrate age appropriate speech and language skills. Researchers have found certain factor or “red flags” that indicate the likelihood that the child may indeed have a true language delay. However, it is important to note that these are predictions made by observations and studies done on groups of children. Individual children may not behave like children in a group. Group data can only be used to predict what most children who are very similar to the children in a study might do. Predictions, by their very nature, are not always correct. Some factors that indicate a possible language delay as noted by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) include receptive language skills, use of gestures to communicate, age of diagnosis and progress in language development. However, parents do not have to rely on predictions or wait and see if their child will outgrow the speech and language delay. It is recommended that parents consult with a licensed speech-language pathologist who can conduct receptive and expressive language tests, analyze the child’s language sample and provide insights about possible intervention strategies.