How many children have language delays?
Language development evolves with widely varying rates and sequences, and how we define a “language delay” also varies greatly, not only from state to state but also from parent to parent. Studies indicate that 1 to 18% of those less than 6 years old have a speech or language delay or disorder. Sixty-seven to eighty-four percent of those with language delays or disorders are boys.
What about a “WAIT & SEE” approach?
Of those under 2 years not yet talking who did not receive intervention
- 66% remained delayed at 3 years
- 50% remained delayed at 4 years
- 25% remained delayed at 5 years (the other 75% were within normal limits, yet skewed toward the low end of the range).
Michael Guralnick’s landmark 1997 book, “The Effectiveness of Early Intervention” examined 15 studies of young children with language delays. Techniques of therapy included: “Naturalistic” play-based therapy, child-directed therapy, antecedents and consequences with primary and secondary rewards, language immersion, and structured approaches including objective targets and arranged environments. The duration of the interventions ranged from 6 weeks to one year. The studies included children who had language delays only, as well as language- with other developmental delays. The therapists were Speech Pathologists AND/OR Teachers, and parent consultation was always utilized. The outcomes of the studies were as follows:
Child Initiated……………. more effective and greater generalization than …… Adult Initiated
Integrated…………………… more effective and greater generalization than …… Pull-out therapy
Activity Based…………….. more effective and greater generalization than …… Direct Intervention
Modeling w/prompt…….… more effective and greater generalization than…… Modeling alone
Interventions resulted in positive changes in parent-child interactions, and interventions resulted in significant improvement on standardized tests.