Some common myths…about early communication development

I often hear families share that when they express concerns to their GP, Peadiatrician, Grandparent or friend a common response is the ‘wait and see’ approach. Often well-meaning and possibly sometimes spot on. The reasons though are often – “he is a boy and they are later to talk” or “she has a lot of siblings.” Just to focus on these as reasons for a moment.

It is a myth that second and third born children are late to talk as their siblings are talking for them. Several studies have shown that language development and skills of first born and later born siblings are similar. One study has shown that first born may reach the 50 word milestone earlier but once children had reached that milestone there was no further difference. But then another study shows that later born children may in fact be superior in some areas. So whilst older siblings may interrupt younger ones there is no evidence to suggest that it causes language difficulties.

Another common reason for the wait and see approach is the claim that ‘he is a boy’ and there is truth to the fact that boys produce their first words and sentences later than girls. However, they are not late talkers. Girls just tend to be on the earlier end of the continuum and boys on the later. Boys are not delayed in their language development.

My personal experiences with my two boys and two girls, was that my boys learnt to talk easily and earlier than the girls. Both the girls had some speech sound difficulties. Neither of the boys did. I think my eldest was not so good at multitasking and as a 17 year old I can see this to be truth. When he was learning to talk, he stumbled a lot with his walking and once he hit two word phrases he was up and walking around again. We got a little worried and started taking him to specialists. But in the end I think his brain was directing so much to learning to talk that other areas were just ignored for a bit (not a medical opinion only a mothers).

So if you are concerned then I think it is right to talk to people and seek advice.

I have created a resource for parents looking for information regarding typical milestones for language development as well as some tips to try if you want to! You can get it here.