Speech-Delayed Children Will Catch Up, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Babies, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers

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Albert Einstein developed speech later than most kids. Credit: AFP/ Getty Images

Albert Einstein supposedly didn't talk until he was 3 or 4. People later asked him why.

"I didn't have anything to say," he responded.

That story may just be a legend, but it's a good illustration for what Australian researchers are trying to tell parents: Relax.

Speech-delayed kids will catch up eventually, and when they do, they will be no more at risk for behavioral or emotional problems as anyone else.

MSNBC reports parents should take a "wait-and-see" attitude when their speech-delayed toddler is acting up. Human communication can be frustrating -- that's why most animals don't even bother with it.

"When late-talking children catch up to normal language milestones -- which the majority of children do -- the behavioral and emotional problems are no longer apparent," lead researcher Andrew Whitehouse tells MSNBC.

Whitehouse, an associate professor at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia in Perth, says the study involved 1,400 children born between 1989 and 1991 from ages 2 to 17.

While parents don't need to freak out, Whitehouse tells MSNBC they should still take notice of speech delays. Between the ages of 3 to 5 is the best time to get kids help with speech problems, he adds.

But Maxine Orringer, a speech-language pathologist and coordinator of the department of audiology and speech pathology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, says there may be a slight cause for concern.

She finds the study's don't-worry-be-happy conclusion "worrisome," she tells MSNBC.

"I don't think parents need to be frightened by delays, but the earlier we can get in and identify the problem and resolve it, the better," she says. "The brain is just more malleable when children are young."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.