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Late-Talking Children

Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage?

Stephen M. Camarata
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Late-Talking Children
    Book Description:

    When children are late in hitting developmental milestones, parents worry. And no delay causes more parental anxiety than late talking, which is associated in many parents' minds with such serious conditions as autism and severe intellectual disability. In fact, as children's speech expert Stephen Camarata points out in this enlightening book, children are late in beginning to talk for a wide variety of reasons. For some children, late talking may be a symptom of other, more serious, problems; for many others, however, it may simply be a stage with no long-term complications. Camarata describes in accessible language what science knows about the characteristics and causes of late talking. He explains that today's greater awareness of autism, as well as the expanded definition of autism as a "spectrum" of symptoms, has increased the chances that a late-talking child will be diagnosed -- or misdiagnosed -- with autism. But, he reminds us, late talking is only one of a constellation of autism symptoms. Although all autistic children are late talkers, not all late-talking children are autistic. Camarata draws on more than twenty-five years of professional experience diagnosing and treating late talkers -- and on his personal experience of being a late talker himself and having a late-talking son. Camarata offers parents valuable guidance on seeking treatment, advising them to get second and third opinions if necessary, and warning them against false diagnoses, unqualified practitioners, and ineffective therapies. He provides information that will help parents navigate the maze of doctors, speech therapists, early childhood services, and special education; and he describes the effect that late talking may have on children's post-talking learning styles.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31933-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 A Symptom or a Stage?
    (pp. 1-18)

    Children are late in beginning to talk for all sorts of reasons, so there is no one-size-fits-all explanation or any one-size-fits-all treatment. The mental level of late-talking children ranges from severely intellectually disabled (the condition that used to be referred to as “mentally retarded”) all the way up to, and including, Albert Einstein, who was three years old before he talked. In my 31 years of treating late-talking children, I have encountered late-talking children who were brilliant; children with intellectual disabilities, severe autism, or other medical problems; and many who were simply normal except for being slow to begin speaking....

  6. 2 What Do We Know about Late-Talking Children?
    (pp. 19-44)

    Although no one knows all the answers as to why some children begin talking much later—sometimes years later—than others, we do know some things about different patterns for different children. More important, we also know what kinds of treatments have been effective in some kinds of situations, as well as what rare kinds of situations defy all efforts to develop a child’s ability to speak.

    The most striking aspect in studies of late-talking children is that many catch up after a few years. As Dr. Laurence Leonard, a leading scholar, reported in the May 2009 issue of the...

  7. 3 Late-Talking Children and Autism
    (pp. 45-64)

    When I first began seeing patients more than 30 years ago, it was rare for any late-talking child to be diagnosed as autistic, and so there would have been no need to include a chapter on autism in a book about late-talking children. But this situation has changed dramatically in recent years. In addition to being a medically defined condition, autism has now become a “social movement” wherein social, legal, and political factors are increasingly having a direct—and indirect—impact on clinical practice.¹ Now it is much more likely that a late-talking child will be diagnosed as having autism....

  8. 4 Lessons from Autism: Charlatans, False Causes, and Questionable Cures
    (pp. 65-90)

    Parents of late-talking children—and the clinicians treating these children—can learn from the horrible experiences encountered in autism. There have been, and continue to be, false causes and cures for autism that are pushed on families and clinicians.¹ As more and more late-talking children are mistakenly put on the autism spectrum, it is increasingly likely that false causes and worse, questionable cures will be imposed on them as well. As described in chapter 2, many late-talking children eventually catch up without treatment. Because of this, there are many opportunities for superstitious causes and cures to arise. A clinician misidentifying...

  9. 5 The Einstein Syndrome
    (pp. 91-112)

    Just as late-talking children in general tend to have some personal characteristics in common, there is a special category of late-talking children with their own special characteristics—and whose families also have special characteristics. These children are not only exceptionally bright from an early age—often noticeably brighter than average, even before they are able to talk—but their special intellectual abilities tend to be concentrated in analytical areas, in extraordinary memory, and in music. However, especially in their early years, they usually lag behind in social areas, and as with other late-talking children, their parents often report that they...

  10. 6 Diagnosis and Dangers
    (pp. 113-144)

    With late-talking children in general, both the accuracy of the original diagnosis and the appropriateness of the treatment that follows are crucial. If you have questions or doubts about either, it is time to get a second or even a third opinion.

    These second and third opinions should be completelyindependentof whoever gave the first opinion. That is, the other opinions should not be from the colleagues of whoever gave the first opinion, nor should the later opinions be from people who could be influenced by whoever gave the first opinion. The later opinions should also not be from...

  11. 7 Early Childhood Services
    (pp. 145-164)

    Parents of a late-talking child are understandably preoccupied with the fact that their child is not speaking, and these parents are usually greatly relieved when their child finally does begin to talk. But even after a late-talking child develops normal speech and goes through other developmental stages, that’s not the end of the story. There are many additional obstacles to overcome, and overcoming them can be like trying to pick your way through a minefield.

    Delayed speech and language development may turn out to be just a stage a child passes through, but the parents of a late-talking child still...

  12. 8 Special Education Services: The Law versus the Practice
    (pp. 165-176)

    Federal law requires that special education services be delivered in the “least restrictive environment.” This is a very important safeguard for parents of late-talking children who are seeking special education services for their child.

    The presumption is that special education services should be delivered in the regular classroom to the greatest extent possible, given the particular circumstances of each child. For most late-talking children, this means going to the school in their district and being taught in a regular classroom with a typical range of students. However, there are some children with severe behavior disorders, severe autism, or severe intellectual...

  13. 9 Navigating Schools
    (pp. 177-194)

    Earlier chapters have emphasized the entry of a late-talking child into the school system because that’s where both the child and the parents are most vulnerable. In other words, it’s where there are the most mines in the minefield. But most of a child’s educational years come later, and that scene has its own special problems and opportunities.

    My observations over decades have convinced me that late-talking children usually have their own special behavior patterns—and that these patterns continue, even after their speech and language develop. I see these patterns in myself, as well as in the children I...

  14. 10 Putting It All Together
    (pp. 195-208)

    Let’s go back to square one and summarize the territory we have covered. We began with a child who was late in talking; usually for some apparently inexplicable reason in the case of children for whom there was no physical or mental abnormality. Often, at that point, there are anxious parents who wondered if there was something they had done, or hadn’t done, that caused the problem.

    There is no evidence that this is the case and considerable evidence that biology is involved, though scientists are still trying to sort out the specific ways that genes and the organization of...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 209-228)
  16. Index
    (pp. 229-234)