Children with Delayed Speech Not Behavioral Risks as Teens

A new study shows that 2-year-olds with limited vocabularies may experience some behavioral issues as children, but they will not have severe problems as teenagers.

The study included over 2,800 children, and the subjects were tracked from birth through their teenage years. At least 142 children were classified as late talkers with some behavioral issues, but they did not exhibit developmental delays or intellectual disabilities. The late talkers’ initial behavioral problems appeared to dissipate by the time they reached their teenage years.

Researchers involved with the study say the results favor a delayed response to language intervention initiatives. Although children may have early behavioral, emotional, and language issues, early intervention may cause more harm than good. Previous studies indicate that up to 18 percent of children may be late talkers, but the majority will catch up to their peers by the time they begin school.

Other scientists say that the late talkers in the study are not indicative of all children with language delays. Scientists also criticized the study’s failure to account for maternal depression. Depressed mothers are significantly less likely to talk with their children and encourage language development.

The study was published by Pediatrics in their August edition.

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