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Curtin University of Technology
Twins and Multiples

Common myths about language development in multiples

There are two phrases about multiples that are so often heard in preschool and school. Even though these are well-intentioned to alleviate parents' concerns, they are totally wrong. These are:

"Don't worry-all twins are like that"

This is often applied to the delays in language and reading that are unfortunately more common in twins. However the fact that more twins have speech problems does not mean that all twins have such problems. Problems are less likely in girls than boys, but even among boys there are many who do well and experience no difficulties with any aspect of their speech and language. In any case, even if problems are more common in twins, that is no reason for failing to do something about them.

"Don't worry-they will grow out of it"

The error of this statement lies in the potential long-term effects of early language delays. While language undoubtedly improves, delays may continue in more subtle forms in such language-based activities as reading, spelling and writing. Indeed, the connection between early delays in language and later delays in reading is much stronger in twins than in single-born children. Thus, dismissing the problem as being only temporary is not helpful for twins in the long-term.

It can be difficult to decide where professional help is needed. Take the example "cat".

The young (2-3 year old) developing normally may simplify this to "tat"

The four year old with a speech disorder may simplify their speech to "tat"

It is, however, unusual to say "at" in this context. This error pattern is not characteristic of younger children.

Early assessment, and intervention if appropriate, is essential in order to support the learning and progress of multiples.