Join Cherab's free support discussion list:

For more information about communication impairments, see Cherab's partner informational site, Speechville Express

The Late Talker

Read more about The Late Talker, a new book for families of children who are late to talk.


Why Early Intervention?
by Lisa Geng

All of us hear the same thing "just a late talker"  Which may be the case.  However early intervention therapy is harmless -and it may stimulate your child to speak even sooner.  If your child begins to speak fluently after two sessions -no more therapy!  If your child does have a speech disorder vs a simple delay in speech however -Early Intervention not only provides the child the best chance -it also could help prevent secondary behavioral or self esteem problems due to frustrations from not being understood, or from being teased.  And what if your late talker who is "so bright" and passes all developmental milestones on time or early ends up being apraxic?  Apraxia, you may think...never heard of it -what are the odds?!

Not every late talker with a speech delay or disorder has apraxia -however apraxia is not rare; many people just do not know the name or symptoms yet. The problem with this is that children with apraxia benefit greatly from early intervention. Apraxia does NOT self-resolve. The prognosis for a child with severe apraxia to one day speak like everyone else is greater for a child who receives a diagnosis and appropriate therapy at 3, than that of a child who first receives a diagnosis and appropriate therapy at 6. So why are some children with apraxia diagnosed after early intervention years?

According to Dr. Diane Paul-Brown, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Rockville, Maryland, "We now know the earlier the intervention, the better the brain can reorganize." Today, parents are generally told to look for signs of delay early, even in a baby's first year, and seek help. No one should assume that a silent 2-year-old is a budding genius; silence may be a sign of hearing loss or a neurological disorder.

The new advice is based in part on studies showing that children with speech impairments are more likely to have reading and social problems later. Working with very young children, with malleable brain connections, may rewire defective connections. From the book Developmental Apraxia of Speech, by Hall, Jordan and Robin, from"Working with Preschoolers Exhibiting DAS (Developmental Apraxia of Speech)," page 174:

"...Lohr (1978) stated that with her population of nonverbal clients with apraxia, 'children who were younger when we began working with them progressed more rapidly' (p. 6). Our experience has been that the overall outcome has been best for those children with DAS who were identified as possibly exhibiting DAS and received services as very young children..."

A parent with a non verbal child may search on the internet under the key words "late talker", "non verbal", "speech delay" or "delayed speech", but unless they know the disorder called apraxia, they will not search under "apraxia" on the internet. Even worse, apraxia also goes by a bunch of other names that are used interchangeably, such as "dyspraxia," "DAS," "motor planning disorder," etc. Additionally, the words "neurologically based" can be misleading to parents; most children with apraxia have above average intelligence, and parents may not believe that their non-verbal child who is "SO" intelligent can have a condition that may be neurologically based. In fact, nobody knows for sure where apraxia comes from. Hopefully as awareness is raised, more research will be done to find out more about this frustrating and confusing condition called apraxia.

Of course there are other factors to consider, aside from the age of identification, when making a prognosis of an apraxic child's future success at communicating verbally. These include the severity of the apraxia, frequency and appropriateness of therapy, attention level of the child, and parental involvement.

Further Resources:

Speech Therapy Matrix
Seek private evaluations from an ASHA certified SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) as well as medical evaluations from a neurologist and a developmental pediatrician who are knowledgeable about apraxia as well as other disorders. Bring these evaluations to your child's school with the guideline at this link, which outlines speech therapy services a child should have in school.
Speech Matrix

Find out more about the importance of early intervention at Cherab's partner!



The Cherab Foundation is a world-wide nonprofit organization working to improve the communication skills and education of all children with speech and language delays and disorders. Our area of emphasis is verbal and oral apraxia, severe neurologically-based speech and language disorders that hinder children's ability to speak.

The Cherab Foundation is committed to assisting with the development of new therapeutic approaches, preventions and cures to neurologically-based speech disorders. We bring together parents and medical, research, and educational professionals. Please join us and help to give our children a smile and a voice.

Cherab Foundation
Communication Help, Education, Research, Apraxia Base
P.O. Box 8524 PSL, Florida 34952-8524
Phone: 772-335-5135

Disclaimer | Privacy Statement | E-mail Cherab
Copyright © Cherab Foundation 1998-2002 All rights reserved.

Last Update: June 18, 2006