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Does your child need speech therapy? According to researchers, simple tests are able to determine which children will have difficulty acquiring language and will need some extra help as early age two.

After following a group of children for 15 years into early adulthood, the doctors concluded that children who speak 50 words or less as two year olds are more likely to have language impairments that will also impact those kids' abilities to read and perform well at school. Many "late talkers" did catch up by age five, but were behind their peers in other areas. Late talking can have many underlying reasons, including autism and hearing problems.The study was led by Dr Leslie Rescorla, who is a psychologist from Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia. She and her team asked parents to participate in a questionnaire to find out both how many and which words their children had pronounced (not necessarily even correctly or in context) by age two.

Those same children were than followed for 15 years to examine their progress. The researchers' questionnaire contained 310 words. Typical two year old children had spoken between 70 and 225 words by age two, while the group classified as "late talkers" had said 50 or less words. The group followed by the team included 23 "on track" talkers, and 26 late talkers.

Rescorla explained:"Upwards of a fifth of children can be viewed as late talkers, but around 80 percent of those are just later bloomers and catch up. Some of these children will recover, but the problem is we don't know which ones. If you don't have a crystal ball it's much better to catch them at age two and start tracking them rather than waiting to see what happens.If you have problems with language and reading, you have children who will not succeed in society. The checklist is simple and it doesn't require machinery. All you need is a pencil and a willing parent.

"This is certainly interesting to me, as the parent of a late talker who was in speech therapy. My daughter certainly met the "requirement" of speaking less than 50 words by age two; she has spoken exactly zero actual words at that time. She also more than caught up by five, which is her current age she's trilingual and a fluent reader in one language. But without the speech therapy, she would not have been able to master many sounds in any of her languages.

Not talking by a certain age, or not talking enough, is obviously a red flag. In that sense, this new study doesn't present anything revolutionary. It may, however, encourage some parents to seek help as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the problem to solve itself (which is what we did, for too long). Have you had a child in speech therapy, a child on the autism spectrum, or one with hearing difficulties? What are your opinions on this new research?

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