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When Your Toddler is a Late Talker

If your toddler seems behind in speech and language, people often try to offer up "helpful" advice. Careful -- they may pass on misinformation. The facts about some things you might hear:

"Keeping your child on the bottle too long causes delays."
"There's no research to demonstrate that," says Diane Paul, Ph.D., a fellow at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

"A lisp is forever."
For many kids, a lisp is a normal part of language development. They may have trouble with "th," "s," and "z" sounds around age 2, but most outgrow the problem. If your child's lisp is lingering and you're concerned, consult your doctor or a speech-language pathologist.

"Girls are just more verbal than boys."
"A girl's vocabulary does expand at a faster rate," says Luigi Giralometto, Ph.D., a speech and language pathology researcher from the University of Toronto. But any child who doesn't have a vocabulary of about 50 words by the time he or she turns 2 should get a speech evaluation.

"A language delay indicates autism spectrum disorder."
"A key component of the autism spectrum is a lack of social skills and communication," says Geralyn Harvey Woodnorth, a speech-language pathologist at Children's Hospital Boston in Waltham, MA. "But many late talkers communicate in nonverbal ways." Without other symptoms, ASD is unlikely.

If you do suspect a problem, mention it to your doctor.