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If your child is under the age of 30 months and you’ve noticed that he often sends messages and shares ideas with you, but doesn’t use as many words as other children his age, he may be a Late Talker – and the Target Word Program may be able to help.

About Children Who are Late Talkers

A child is considered a Late Talker if he or she:

  • is saying fewer than 24 words and is between 18 and 20 months; OR
  • is saying fewer than 40 words and is between 21 and 24 months; OR
  • is saying fewer than 100 words and is between 24 and 30 months; OR
  • is using a limited number of word combinations by 24 months; AND
  • has relatively good skills in his or her other areas of development (understanding, play, social, motor and learning skills); AND
  • has some risk factors, such as limited use of gestures, limited use of different speech sounds, or a family history of language delay
About the Target Word Program

Children hear thousands of words every day. Although children who are Late Talkers understand what is said to them, they do not say all the words they understand. Target Word shows parents how to create many opportunities for their child to send a message, which is the first step in children learning to say words. You learn to highlight specific words during everyday activities, making it easier for your child to learn new words.

Working with a Hanen Target Word Certified SLP, you select 10 “target” words specific to your child’s interests - i.e. words that your child will be motivated to send messages about. And, with these words in mind, you learn to create opportunities for your child to hear these “target” words again and again. Research shows that providing frequent repetitions of “target words” helps children build their vocabulary.

What you learn in a Target Word Program

  • Recognize how your child is sending you messages
  • Understand what your child to is motivated to communicate about
  • Encourage your child to start interactions with you by Observing, Waiting and Listening
  • Follow your child’s lead by joining in his favourite activities and creating opportunities for him to use the words that go with the activity
  • Help your child take turns to keep interactions going
  • Use pretend play and book reading to encourage learning new vocabulary
Program Components

The Target Word Program takes place over 10-12 weeks.

The program includes:

  • An individual consultation with a Hanen Target Word Certified SLP before the program begins
  • Choosing a communication goal for your child
  • Five small group sessions with other parents of children who are Late Talkers and a Target Word Certified SLP
  • Two individual appointments with the SLP to review and discuss how your use of the Target Word strategies affect your child’s opportunities to send messages and use words. You are video-recorded interacting with your child, and you then review and discuss the recording with the SLP
  • A follow-up appointment 6-8 weeks after Session Five
  • Support from other parents of children who are Late Talker
The Target Word Program via Telepractice

The Target Word Program via Telepractice, offered to families of children who are Late Talkers, provides the Target Word Program online. All group sessions and individual appointments are offered to families online, allowing you to attend the program from home.

You can join sessions using a videoconferencing software that allows you to interact with the Hanen Certified Speech-Language Pathologist and the other parents in the group. The two individual appointments, with you, your child and the Hanen SLP, are also completed online.

Technology needs

To participate in a telepractice program, you will need the following:

  • A computer, iPad or a tablet (smartphones and cell phones do not have a large enough screen)
  • Webcam and microphone
  • High speed internet
  • Email access
  • Adobe reader (free download)

Parents are the most important people to help children develop their language skills. If you have concerns about your child’s language development and aren't already working with a Hanen certified speech-language pathologist, let us help you find one today.


Find a Hanen Certified SLP