Should My Late Talker Have a Speech and Language Evaluation?

A late talker is defined as a child who is 18 months or older who uses 20 or fewer words. Late talkers typically have an expressive language delay, while other areas of development are within the typical range.

Should My Late Talker Have a Speech and Language Evaluation?

If you have concerns about your child’s language development, you should pursue an evaluation with a speech language pathologist (SLP). You know your child best. You talk to your child every day, and  you play with your child every day. When it comes to your child’s language, you are the person who interacts most with your child. If you have a concern, schedule an evaluation.

Ultimately, only an SLP can make the determination to see if your child would benefit from speech therapy.

What Happens at a Speech and Language Evaluation?

An evaluation will use a variety of measures to determine if your child’s speech and language skills are delayed or not. An assessment involves many data sources, including interviews, play and games, questionnaires, checklists and/or standardized assessments.

If your child can’t sit for a standardized test, that is OK. For young clients, many SLPs use a combination of play and checklists to get more information about your child. If your child is very wiggly, do not worry! Many young children are, and an evaluation can still be completed.

What if My Child Doesn’t Need Help?

After the evaluation, your SLP may determine your child does not need speech therapy. If that is the case, your SLP will likely share suggestions for working with your child at home for continuing to build language skills.

What if My Child Does Need Help?

If after the evaluation, your SLP determines your child does need speech therapy, your SLP will tell you how often he or she suggests you and your child participate in speech therapy.

If your child does need speech therapy, goals will be developed. These goals will be measurable gains you and your speech language pathologist (SLP) will help your child make in the next several months. If you want more information on suggested goals for late talkers in speech therapy, see my last post.

A Great Video to Review and Share

If you are still deciding if you want to pursue a speech and language evaluation, watch this video. Learn With Adrienne is a great source for activities to build language skills with your toddler, and she made a Facebook Live video on this very topic. Check it out!

Moving Forward

If you aren’t sure if you want to pursue an evaluation, consider this post to be some encouragement. Speech therapy can be an interactive, fun way for toddlers to build language skills. SLPs have Master’s degrees and are typically very, very good at what they do. All you have to do is reach out. We are here to help!

If you are looking for an SLP, search online for the ASHA Pro Find, which will connect you with someone who is certified in your state and has national certification from ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association).


Best of luck as you continue on this journey. Taking first steps in any journey can be intimidating, but once you start the process, you may be surprised at how much fun and learning happens in speech therapy sessions. All the best to you!

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