What we endorse
Clinically Reputable Diagnostics and the DSM-IV
First and foremost, a medical evaluation should be completed in all cases in which a child is delayed in talking in order to rule out any medical factors contributing to the late onset of language. In addition, an audiological examination should be performed to ensure that hearing loss is not the cause of the late talking. If a child is not using true words by 18 months of age, this would be considered a form of late talking.
A number of clinical conditions include late talking as a symptom. The fourth edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV, APA 1994) lists a number of conditions "first appearing in childhood" that include late talking. The most prevalent include Expressive Language Disorder, Mixed Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder, Phonological Disorder, Mental Retardation, and some of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders including Autism, Rhett's Syndrome, and PDD-NOS (not otherwise specified). Note that Asberger's syndrome is characterized in the DSM-IV as normal onset of language, indicating that late talking is not a symptom of this condition. And of course, there is also the possibility that a child is just a late bloomer.
In the Natural Late Talkers support group, parents are encouraged to seek out an accurate diagnosis based on careful observation of the child and a detailed examination of additional risk factors. In general, the fewer risk factors evident, the more likely the late talking is a developmental variation rather than a clinical condition.
Clinically Proven Therapies
The therapies we generally discuss within our group are child-led therapies such as Naturalistic Speech therapy and child-led therapies for phonological or pronunciation issues.
Naturalistic speech therapy is therapy that uses a child's natural environment and natural tendencies to nurture and encourage speech. It is therapy that uses what the child enjoys to incorporate "therapy lessons" into his/her day. If the child loves cars and trains, then playing with cars and trains will elicit the most cooperation from the child.
Naturalistic therapy is based on LIFE acting as therapist, but in a controlled way so that we are not speaking too fast, too garbled, and leaving the child out. As parents, we know what our children enjoy, we know what motivates them, and we know what will discourage the. We accentuate the positives and downplay the negatives. We use positive reiinforcement using the child's own interests.
There are many ways to utilize Naturalistic therapy - it's very unique to each child, but the core of it is to find out what the child likes and therefore what motivates that child, and use it! Play with the child in THEIR world: their likes, their comfort levels, their own home and the child will want to be with you, be in conversation with you, and want to share thoughts with you.