What’s a Developmental Delay? – Kiara

I love working at Eat Speak Learn. What I love the most is working with toddlers and pre-schoolers who are still learning to talk, are having trouble putting sentences together and finding it hard understanding what is being said to them. Parents often say to me that other family members, friends or members of the public comment on their child and say “he should be talking now” or “she is not listening and being naughty”. This is often not the case as these children often have language difficulties which is now identified as either a ‘late talker’, a ‘Developmental Language Disorder’ (DLD) or a language disorder associated with a biomedical condition (e.g. brain injury, neurodegenerative conditions, genetic conditions, or chromosome disorders such as Down syndrome, sensorineural hearing loss, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Intellectual Disability).

A ‘late talker’ is usually identified as a 18-24-month-old child who is not yet using words to communicate or may be using some single words, however not starting to combine two words together. They may also have difficulty understanding (e.g. following simple 1 step instructions, identifying objects e.g. “where’s the mouse?). At this age, it is hard to know if there will be long term problems, however we do know that early intervention significantly improves a child’s risk of continual difficulties. I love working with this age group because these children have so much energy and persistence. I love their little smiles when they work out a new toy or something surprises them like the magic of bubbles (even though they may have seen bubbles a million times). At this age, a lot of time is spent talking to the parents and teaching them strategies to encourage better understanding and use of language for their children. The best feeling is when a parent comes to the next session with exciting news – “they said ‘mum’ for the first time!” or “they copied when I said “ball” and bounced the ball after me!”

A ‘Developmental Language Disorder’ (DLD) is a new term used to refer to children with language difficulties that are not associated with a known biomedical condition. About 50% of my caseload is children with DLD, which shows it is not uncommon for children to have these language difficulties without any other condition. Working with these children is bucket loads of fun and allows me to be super creative with how I disguise therapy as exciting games and toys. For example, to the child, we are making wacky and funny potato heads but secretly, we are focusing on following/giving instructions, describing pieces with adjectives or sentence structure with storytelling. I find these children are not afraid to give it a try and have so much resilience. Check out this YouTube video about DLD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ-s02HWLb0


A language disorder associated with a biomedical condition (e.g. brain injury, neurodegenerative conditions, genetic conditions, or chromosome disorders such as Down syndrome, sensorineural hearing loss, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Intellectual Disability). This means that there may be other developmental difficulties and implications related to this child’s ability to function and develop language as quickly as others. These children are the highlights of my day. I love working out their favourite activities and toys and building language around them. Their smiles, laughter and interactions are priceless. I love collaborating with parents and other important people in the child’s life who are determined to support their loved one in whatever way possible and are always open and honest.

I love being a part of their life, whether that is for a short time or a while. I often tell parents that regardless of their diagnoses or conditions, we will always focus on their child’s individual and unique language needs. My aim is for parents to be empowered and knowledgeable about how they can support their child’s language at this age and most importantly, for the children to feel supported, safe and have endless amounts of fun.