A comprehensive guide to the most common speech disorders or speech and language disorders

A comprehensive guide to the most common speech disorders or speech and language disorders

Speech disorders are no uncommon condition. An estimated 7.5 million Americans have some sort of problem with their speech. These millions of people could have any number of speech conditions ranging from selective mutism to vocal cord damage.

There are certain speaking disorders that are more common than others, though. Each disorder has specific causes and symptoms that you can use to identify them.

We’re going to go over some of the most common speaking disorders that occur in both children and adults. Keep reading to learn more.

Apraxia of Speech (AOS)

Apraxia of Speech (AOS) is a condition where you are physically unable to say what you want. This is usually the result of damaged neural pathways or brain damage. When the pathways that connect the brain to the speech muscles are damaged, you are unable to physically say what you want to say.

You can think of the words, write down the words, and understand speech, but your ability to actually speak those words is inhibited or impossible. The level of severity can range with this condition. Some people maintain an ability to be understood while others are incoherent in their speech.

There’s also a specific subset of this condition called Childhood Apraxia of Speech. This is a childhood disorder where the neural pathways for speech don’t develop normally or on the “normal” timeline.

Children with this condition can:

  • Be late talkers
  • Have abnormal mouth/jaw movements
  • Emphasize syllables incorrectly
  • Have inconsistent pronunciation

The causes of this condition, both in children and adults, are neurological. This could be genetic or the result of TBI (traumatic brain injury) like concussions, strokes, infections, etc.


Chances are you’ve heard someone stutter before. It’s very common with an estimated 3 million Americans having a stutter at some point.

There are two subsets of this condition: developmental stuttering and neurogenic stuttering.

Stuttering is characterized by the repetition of sounds, interruption of speech, repetition of words, or overuse of fillers like “um” or “er”.

Developmental stuttering is most often seen in children, and 75% of kids grow out of their stutter. This is usually the result of kids not developing their speech correctly, causing them not to be able to get the words out as fast as they’re thinking them. It can be helped with speech therapy.

Neurogenic stuttering is usually caused by traumatic brain injuries like head trauma, concussions, strokes, etc.


Lisping is another well-known condition that you’re probably already familiar with. Most of us think of the “th” instead of “s” sound as a lisp, which isn’t incorrect. But there are actually 4 different kinds of lisps that are considered speech disorders.

The common one we think of is the “th” sound that’s made incorrectly instead of an “s” sound. This is called interdental lisp, and it occurs when the tongue pushes past the front teeth when trying to make the “s” sound.

While lisps like this are most common in children, they can persist into adulthood. Lisping is what’s known as a functional speech disorder. This means that it can be adjusted and sometimes corrected with speech therapy.

Speech therapy for those with lisps includes relearning pronunciation, muscle strengthening exercises, and general annunciation coaching.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

People with spasmodic dysphonia (SD) suffer from abnormal spasms in the vocal cords. This can cause the voice to sound strained, tight, broken, soft, hoarse, and/or jittery.

An estimated 50,000 people have SD in the United States. However, this is considered a low estimate since many physicians believe that people are misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed.

Unlike most of the other things we’ve gone over so far, this condition is more common in adults than in children. Onset is usually between the ages of 30 and 50. There’s no single cause of SD; most agree that it’s related to aging and changes in muscles and nervous system pathways.

Those who have trouble talking or find that their voice is particularly shaky or hoarse because of SD can have success with speech therapy.


Aphasia is a condition that occurs after a traumatic brain injury, usually stroke. Those who suffer from a stroke have a one in three chance of developing aphasia. There are an estimated 2 million people with aphasia in the United States.

Brain injury can affect the blood flow to our brain, especially during a stroke. When this happens in language and communication centers in the brain, it can lead to this condition.

Aphasia is characterized by:

  • Trouble getting words out
  • Difficulty finding/saying the correct words
  • Difficulty understanding communication
  • Inability to produce coherent words/sentences
  • Difficulty/inability reading and writing

Those with aphasia have trouble speaking and communicating properly. There are things that can treat aphasiapost-injury to help relearn communication skills that may have been lost or inhibited because of the injury.

Autism and Speech Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 100 people, making it one of the most common disorders on this list. Not all people with autism have trouble speaking. But, problems with speech, communication, and social cues are some of the most common symptoms of autism.

Difficulty or inability to speak because of autism spectrum disorder can be helped with speech therapy. Therapy can include:

  • Learning communication cues
  • Learning the meaning of words
  • Socializing with others
  • Learning exercises to help make speaking easier

Parents or relatives of those on the spectrum are often encouraged to come along to therapy sessions. This helps the person communicate effectively with the encouragement of their loved one.

Common Speaking Disorders: Wrapping Up

Speaking disorders might seem uncommon, but millions of people around the world are affected by them. It could be something as simple as a childhood stutter or a result of a traumatic brain injury. Whatever the case, speech disorders can affect communication, confidence, and even mental health.

Hopefully these descriptions of the most common disorders can help you understand them a bit better. If you want more information on these disorders and how they can be treated, check out our website.

You can also contact us with any questions.


Your Guide to Child Language Disorders, online speech therapy

Your Guide to Childen’s Language Disorders

What if you could help your child live a happier and more productive life?

This is what all parents want for their children. However, for parents of children with language disorders, it can be often be frustrating to help their children do anything from speak clearly to understanding others.

However, the more you know about these disorders, the more you can help your child and any others with a language processing disorder. Keep reading to review our comprehensive guide to child language disorders.

What Are Child Language Disorders?

There are different types of language disorders (more on this in a moment). However, they are all rooted in a difficulty finding and saying the right words and/or a difficulty in understanding what other people say.

Adults sometimes confuse certain language disorders with a child being hard of hearing. However, these children do not have trouble hearing. Rather, their difficulty is with fully understanding and applying the various rules of standard spoken communication.

The good news is that the more you know about your child’s language disorder, the easier it will be to treat it.

Different Types of Disorders

There are three different kinds of language disorders. The first is a receptive language disorder, which means that the children have trouble understanding what those around them say.

The second type of language disorder is an expressive language disorder. This means that the child has difficulty in fully expressing their different thoughts and different ideas via language.

The final type of language disorder is a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder. Simply put, this is a combination of the first two disorders, meaning that a child has difficulty understanding others as well as making himself understood by others.

Language Disorder Symptoms

There are a few general symptoms that a child has a language processing disorder. This includes speaking less than other children and speaking in short sentences that are missing conjunctions such as “and” or “but.”

Another symptom is that the child may have trouble responding to directions they are given. This is likelier if the instructions contain information about time, location, or description. They may also have trouble with directions that exclude a certain category of something, such as bringing every ball except the red one.

A final symptom may be that a child continues to misuse verbs or nouns after their peers have stopped doing so. The good news is that these specific systems will give a speech pathologist (either in your area or online) a specific area to focus on during speech therapy.

Delay vs. Disorder

You will hear many different terms when it comes to your child’s language disorder, including “delay” and “disorder.” While some people may use these terms as synonyms for one another, it’s good to know what the actual difference is.

“Delay” refers to a child who is developing their speech skills in the standard order but slower than the standard rate. “Disorder” refers to a child whose development is non-standard, and this may manifest in a variety of surprising ways.

Causes of These Disorders

Many parents are understandably curious about what the causes of language disorders are. Unfortunately, there are many different potential causes, so it is difficult to isolate what may be the cause for a particular child.

In some cases, it is genetic, as anywhere between twenty percent to forty percent of children with a history of family speech issues end up with their own language disorder.

Other cases may be linked to differences in prenatal care. Some studies have shown that women who take folic acid supplements while pregnant have a reduced chance of developing a language disorder.

Finally, speech issues may be linked to other conditions that the child is facing. This includes Down syndrome, autism, and premature birth as well as other intellectual disabilities.

How Common is This?

When your child is dealing with a language disorder, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely. However, it’s important for parents and children alike to realize that these disorders are more common than most people imagine.

Some studies have found that up to five percent of the child population suffer from various language disorders. This means that over sixteen million children may suffer from these language disorders in America alone.

Reaching out to other families who may be experiencing this can be beneficial and is a good supplement to getting traditional speech therapy.

How to Diagnose This

Earlier, we talked about some of the symptoms that might serve as warning signs of a language disorder. How, though, would a pediatrician actually diagnose this?

Typically, a pediatrician has a good sense of certain language milestones that children will reach and what age they typically reach them. If your child is past a certain age and has not reached that milestone, it helps them identify things like receptive and expressive language delay.

It’s important to seek professional assistance as soon as possible. A pediatrician or other doctor can help rule out things like hearing problems and also accurately diagnosis the exact kind of language disorder the child is facing.

Don’t forget that diagnosis does not have to be expensive. You can typically receive cheap (and sometimes even free) diagnosis via local universities or school districts.

Types of Treatment

Once a language disorder has been diagnosed, the next step is for your child to receive treatment. How, though, will this treatment work?

The truth is that the exact treatment plan varies because the speech pathologist creates an individual therapy for each patient. In addition to their sessions, they will work with you on how you can extend lessons from therapy into your daily lives.

A speech pathologist can also help your child get an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your local school system so they can participate in the speech rehabilitation. If your child cannot get an IEP, they may qualify for a 504 plan that will help teachers adapt to their unique needs.

The Bottom Line

You know how important a speech pathologist is to help your child’s language disorders. But do you know where to find the best pathologists?

Here at Great Speech, we are the ultimate authority in providing online pathology solutions for your child’s every need. To see how we can make each day brighter, contact us today!


Online speech therapy

Your Guide to Expressive Language Disorder

It can be daunting when your child receives a diagnosis of expressive language disorder.

While you’ve likely noticed the signs, it can be overwhelming to think about supporting your child with this challenge. After all, this is one of the most fundamental of skills – the ability to communicate successfully with others.

However, take heart! Your child can get the support they need to express themselves confidently. You just need a good understanding of these disorders and the support of a qualified speech therapist.

Read on for our guide to expressive language disorder.

Defining Expressive Language Disorder

For children with expressive language disorder, expressing themselves in everyday situations is a constant struggle. Here are some of the signs that you may have noticed in your child.

Conversation and Relationship Difficulties

This can manifest itself in challenges in making and maintaining a conversation. Their receptive skills may be good – they can take in what others are saying. It is making their point that can be a huge undertaking.

Because conversation is the lifeblood of relationships, you may feel that it is difficult to get close to your child. It can be hard to connect emotionally as you would like to when your child can’t express themselves fully.

This can also lead to challenges at school and in social situations. Children with expressive language disorder may tend to be loners, or have a very limited circle of friends.

Word Selection Challenges

Children with this disorder may also rely on a very limited vocabulary. You may have noticed your child struggling to find the specific name for an everyday item. Many children resort to calling things ‘this’ or ‘that’.

Your child’s teacher may have highlighted a concern in their schoolwork. Their answers may be one word at best, and they may simply repeat back to the teacher what they have just said.

Grammar can also be a challenge for children with this disorder, particularly using verbs correctly. Sometimes they may miss out verbs entirely.

This naturally leads to challenges in writing. While learning to write and spell in itself may not be too difficult, writing anything beyond basic phrases and sentences will be hard for them.

Lack of Intonation and Modulation

When we speak, we naturally vary our pitch, speed, and intonation depending on the situation and subject we are talking about.

Children with this disorder often struggle with these elements of natural speech. Resultingly, their speech may sound stiff and awkward.

Causes of Expressive Language Disorder

Usually, the cause of this disorder is unclear.

Sometimes, an illness or accident could appear to be the cause. These cases are known as acquired disorders.

Another factor in acquired disorders could be hearing loss, whether temporary or permanent. If your child suffers from ongoing ear infections, this on/off hearing loss could also lead to problems with expressive language.

With developmental disorders, it is possible that genetic factors are at play. However, currently, these are not well understood.

Although the causes are unclear, there are effective treatment options that can help your child to overcome these challenges.

Getting a Diagnosis

You may suspect your child has expressive language disorder, or have had a diagnosis from a specialist.

Usually, the initial signs are picked up by pediatricians, parents, and teachers, who notice that the child is not able to meet expected language development milestones.

Referral to a speech-language pathologist is important for accurate diagnosis and recommendations regarding a treatment plan. They will put them through tests that will help to determine the exact nature of the disorder.

Expressive language disorder will be the diagnosis if your child can understand the language to the level expected for their age, but can’t express themselves at the expected level.

It is usual to find that children exhibit both expressive and receptive language disorder. The speech-language pathologist will be able to advise you on the right course of treatment for your child’s individual needs.

Treating Expressive Language Disorder

The key point is recognizing that no two children – or their challenges – are entirely alike.

A trained speech therapist will analyze your child during the initial consultation to prepare a tailored action plan. This will then be followed up by speech therapy sessions, building week by week, gradually developing your child’s confidence.

At Great Speech, this is done using a teleconferencing model, which is particularly effective for language disorders.

Other methods involve face to face speech therapy and group speech therapy.

Treatment Methods

Specific methods used will vary from therapist to therapist. This depends on the diagnosis and suitability for your child. However, you can expect that the therapy will be suitable for the age and aptitude of your son or daughter.

Techniques may include modeling target behaviors. Play can be used as a natural, relaxed setting for these activities. The therapist will model specific aspects of speech – sounds, vocabulary, and grammatical structures – and reinforce them.

Reward systems such as stickers or high fives will be used so they associate positive emotions with addressing these issues.

For older children, therapy may include asking them to make judgments about what to say in different social contexts and role-playing different day to day scenarios.

Discuss with the speech therapist what you can do as a parent to support and reinforce the therapy sessions.

This will help your child to make progress. They will understand that these are everyday skills, not just something they practice during their sessions.

The Main Point: Expressive Language Disorder

Communication difficulties can be very frustrating for both child and parent. But with good understanding and appropriate treatment, they can be resolved.

Don’t delay if your child has a diagnosis or you suspect that your child may have this disorder. Take the next step and arrange for speech therapy as soon as possible.

You will be delighted to see the progress that your child makes and the satisfaction it brings them.

We’re Here to Help

Speech therapy is an effective form of treatment for children with this and many other disorders.

At Great Speech, we offer a range of online speech therapy services that can help your child overcome these difficulties.

Click here to request a free consultation today.

Online Speech Therapy

Does Your Child Have Expressive Language Disorder

Are you concerned that your child might have expressive language disorder?

It can be worrying when your child’s language abilities seem to be behind those of their peers. The more you learn about expressive language delay, the sooner you can take action and do what’s best for your child. Understanding more about the symptoms of language delay will make facing it less scary.

In this guide, we’ve put together everything you need to know if you think your child has expressive language delay. Keep reading to learn what this means and what to do about it.

What is Expressive Language Delay?

Expressive language delay, or expressive language disorder, means that children have a hard time providing information using speech and other forms of communications. They might have a hard time expressing themselves with sign language, gestures, and writing, as well as speech.

Sometimes, children will be too young to write but will show their difficulties with expression in other ways.

At times, you might find that your child misses certain language milestones in the first three years of life, but is able to catch up with their peers later on. Missing some milestones isn’t a surefire sign of expressive language disorder. Your child could simply be what’s called a “late talker.”

However, if your child keeps having trouble with expression later on, they’ll likely be diagnosed with expressive language disorder.

Expressive Language Disorder Signs

When children have expressive language delay, they’ll usually have a hard time correctly putting words together into sentences or phrases.

For example, they might not use the right verb tense at the right times, or they might accidentally leave important words out of a sentence. They’ll often speak in much shorter sentences and phrases than other children their age do and use a smaller vocabulary.

Here’s a closer look at some of the issues children with this disorder tend to have.

1. Sequencing

Children with expressive language issues will often have a hard time putting language together in the logical order. They’ll have a difficult time putting events in the right order when they recount a story or struggle to correctly order the steps of an activity.

Conversations with these children are often hard to follow because of these issues. However, you can use games and activities to help your child become better at sequencing.

2. Correctly Using Adjectives

Children with this type of language delay also have a hard time using descriptors the right way. Words like adverbs and adjectives are used to make language more interesting, as well as more clear. However, children with a language delay may never use these words at all, or not use them right.

3. Grammar

Using correct grammar is another problem you’ll see in children with a language delay. They might use grammatical markers wrong, or leave them out completely.

Grammatical markers are the word parts and small words that go between longer words to make sure sentences have meaning. Without grammatical markers, speech can be choppy and sentences tend to be short.

You can teach a child proper grammar to help them put together sentences that are easier to understand.

4. Social Skills

Many children with expressive language disorder also have issues with social skills, sometimes called pragmatics. They might not know how to use language to properly interact with other kids.

5. Asking Questions and Giving Answers

It takes a lot of language skill to ask questions and give appropriate answers.

First, comprehension is needed to understand the meaning of the question. Then, the child has to put together the appropriate answer to the question. Last, they have to say the answer out loud.

Children with language delay issues usually have a hard time throughout this process.

6. Vocabulary

Limited vocabularies can make it hard for children with a language delay to say what they want to say. They’ll probably need more assistance to learn new words than other children will, and they might have a difficult time remembering the words they need.

7. Figurative Language

Children with an expressive language delay struggle to understand figurative sayings, such as metaphors, similes, and idioms.

8. Inferences

These children usually have a hard time drawing inferences from the things they see around them, or from what they read.

9. Mutism

Many children with a language delay will refuse to speak in some settings. Selective mutism refers to when a child has the ability to speak, but won’t do it in settings such as at school or in public. They will still speak in some situations, such as when they’re at home.

Selective mutism can be treated. However, the treatment for selective mutism differs greatly from other types of treatment for language delay and speech issues.

What Causes Expressive Language Delay?

In most cases, it’s not really clear what the cause of these language delays is.

Some children only struggle with their language development, and progress normally in all other areas. Others have other developmental issues, such as autism, Down syndrome, or hearing issues.

Expressive language disorder often goes alongside receptive language disorder, which means they have a hard time understanding language, in addition to using it.

Sometimes, expressive language issues start at birth, as a developmental issue. Other times, the impairment is acquired later in life, after some normal development has already occurred. Trauma can cause expressive language issues, such as a blow to the head. Medical issues can also cause expressive language delays.

Sometimes, expressive language disorder seems to span across family members or generations, indicating that these delays can sometimes be genetic.

What To Do Next?

If you think your child has expressive language disorder, based on the above symptoms, you should take them to a speech pathologist or speech therapist for a diagnosis. You should also make an appointment with an audiologist to test their hearing.

You don’t need a doctor’s referral to make these appointments. A speech pathologist will conduct assessments to figure out the types of language use that are hard for your child. These assessments are fast and easy and will help you know how to move forward.

One of the best solutions for treatment is online speech therapy that you can easily do at home. Find out more about how it works here.


How Online Speech Therapy Can Help With Language Disorders, online speech therapy

How Online Speech Therapy Can Help With Language Disorders

Communication is one of the most important tools you’ll ever use, both in your personal life and in your professional life. If you or your child is struggling with a speech issue, you naturally feel worried and frustrated. Online speech therapy just may be the key you need to unlock a whole new world of language possibilities for you.

Traditional speech therapy involves face-to-face therapy sessions, which may not always be convenient or feasible.

That’s why online speech therapy can be a healthy, effective alternative for you for treating language disorders in both children and adults.

We’ve compiled a guide on how speech therapy online, also called online speech-language pathology, can help you or your child with language disorders.

Let’s get started!


More than 7% of children in the United States between 3 and 17 years old have had disorders related to speech or language during the past year. Adults also suffer from these disorders. Unfortunately, not everyone with these issues pursues the intervention he or she needs.

One of the most common speech-related issues is articulation — an area you can address in online speech therapy. Articulation refers to being able to move the palate, jaw, lips and tongue to generate individual sounds.

For instance, making the “b” sound requires inhaling and then exhaling while turning your voice on. At the same time, you need to bring together your tensed lips to build up your airflow. Then, you release this flow of air by separating your lips.

All of this might seem rather complicated for a seemingly simple sound as “b.” But the truth is that English is one of the toughest languages to master due to its intricacies and complexities.

This is why a high-quality online speech therapist can be invaluable for those dealing with articulation issues.

Listening Skills

Another area a speech therapist can address online using video conferencing is receptive language, or being able to listen to and comprehend language. In many cases, children who are young understand more than what they are able to verbalize.

A speech therapist can introduce your child to brand-new vocabulary terms. Then, the therapist will teach him or her how to utilize this knowledge to take part in conversations, follow directions and respond to questions.

Cognitive Communication

You may suffer from a cognitive-communication disorder if your cognitive processes are impaired. These processes may include the following:

  • Executive functions, such as problem-solving, self-monitoring and planning
  • Awareness
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Memory
  • Attention

You may have been born with such deficits, or perhaps you acquired them as a result of a degenerative disease, head injury or stroke. An online speech therapist can help you to build your skills in these areas or even teach you compensatory methods for addressing your deficits.


Speech refers to physically being able to say words. Meanwhile, language refers to a rule-governed, symbolic system utilized for conveying a message.

In English, the symbols people use can be written or spoken, or they can even use gestural symbols to communicate a message. For instance, they may shrug their shoulders, raise their eyebrows or wave depending on the situation.

Online speech therapists can teach your child new terms and how to use them to create sentences and phrases. The therapist’s goal is to help your child to communicate desired messages effectively.


Your child may have a stutter, his or her speech flow is broken. Various types of behaviors are associated with stuttering, including repetitions and prolongations.

Fortunately, a speech-language pathologist can go over strategies with your child for addressing the stuttering behavior. This will ultimately increase his or her intelligibility and fluency.

Social Language

Social language has to do with how a person communicates using language. It involves three core communication skills:

  • Utilizing language to convey a message in various ways (e.g., asking questions, protesting, greeting)
  • Changing language depending on where you’re using it or with whom (e.g., speaking differently outside versus inside)
  • Following conversation rules (e.g., taking turns during a conversation)

An online speech-language pathologist can touch on all three areas, essentially teaching your child how to appropriately take part in conversations.


One of the best reasons to use a speech therapist is that these professionals can empower you to help yourself or your child through education.

Particularly if your child is the one receiving help, the speech therapist will give you the tools you need to help your child during the many hours you interact with him or her. For example, you can apply these tools when you get your child up in the morning, speak with him or her, or even read your child a bedtime story.

So, while your child is completing an online speech therapy session, feel free to take some notes. You and your speech therapist can both play an instrumental role in your child’s language development word by word.

The Online Route

So, you now understand how valuable a speech-language pathologist can be. But what’s the benefit of choosing an online one versus one in person?

The advantages are numerous. For one, you don’t have to spend time traveling to see a therapist. Instead, your therapist will show up right in your living room when you’re ready to start your online session.

Also, when you work with a therapist online, you can enjoy more flexibility when it comes to scheduling sessions, for instance. Plus, you don’t have to worry about annoying geographical limitations. Or inclement weather.

Instead, you can simply focus on overcoming your speech issues with individualized, interactive therapeutic activities online.

How We Can Help with Online Speech Therapy

We can help you or your child to become a more powerful communicator through our live and highly individualized speech therapy services.

We offer the perfect mixture of innovation and traditional expectations — standards that have been effective time and time again.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you or your child to increase in confidence when it comes to verbal expressions.

The Difference Between Expressive and Receptive Language Disorders, online speech therapy for kids

The Difference Between Expressive and Receptive Language Disorders

Language disorders are just as individual as the people experiencing them.

That being said, they do broadly fall into two categories — expressive and receptive language disorders.

If you’re seeking support for your language disorder, or that of your child, it helps to understand these two terms and the differences between them.

Let us guide you through what the mean, how they differ and how to get the right help.

What’s an Expressive Language Disorder?

Simply put, someone with an expressive language disorder has difficulty getting their point across to other people. This includes expressing themselves verbally or through signs and gestures.

People with this condition can often understand what others say to them and can pronounce words. Their difficulty lies in making conversation.

This can present in a number of different ways:

Limited Vocabulary

A person with this condition may rely on general terms, like ‘that’ and ‘things’ rather than using specific names for everyday items. This indicates that they have a limited vocabulary, struggling to remember specific terms.

At school or in life, they may show a lack of creativity in their answers or comments. They may struggle to express their point in their own words. Children are often prone to repeating what the teacher has said.

Modulation and Intonation

Along with a limited vocabulary, their speech may also be lacking the natural variations in pitch and pace that give language meaning and interest.

They may also speak quietly due to being conscious of their difficulties, or resort to pointing and gesturing, rather than using words to communicate.

Relationship Difficulties

As relationships rely so much on spoken communication, people with an expressive language disorder may tend to be quiet and withdrawn, and struggle to bond with others.

Grammar Challenges

For those with an expressive language disorder, grammar can present a challenge, particularly with articles (a, an and the) and verbs. Using verb tenses may be a challenge, or they may be missed altogether.

As the child moves on to composing their own writing, this could come through in difficulty writing anything beyond the most basic of sentences. This challenge may persist into adulthood.

What Causes Expressive Language Disorders?

Sometimes, there is a clear cause for language disorder, such as trauma or illness.

However, often the causes in a particular person are not easily understood. Genetic factors and even poor nutrition could be potential causes.

What is encouraging is that treatment in the form of language therapy is available. Depending on the severity of the condition, the prognosis will vary, but many have been able to obtain improvements through it.

Summary of Expressive Language Disorders

Whatever age you are, an expressive language disorder will make communicating a challenge when you have to express yourself.

Separately to this, some people may have a receptive language disorder. Others have a combination of the two, known as a mixed, or global, language disorder.

Let’s look at what this disorder is and how it can be diagnosed.

What’s a Receptive Language Disorder?

In contrast with an expressive language disorder, a receptive disorder means that someone has difficulty understanding what others say to them.

People with this disorder may show in the following ways that they have difficulties with their receptive language abilities:

Tuning Out

Whilst this is certainly not exclusive to people with language disorders, those with this condition will often appear not to be following along in conversations or when listening to narratives.

Tell-tale signs include blurting things out whilst others are speaking and not asking questions or making comments as you might expect in normal conversation.

When put on the spot and asked questions, they may struggle with responding to anything beyond the most basic forms of questions.

Not Following Through

Retaining verbal instructions can present a major challenge for people with these disorders. It is not uncommon to find that they fail to follow through on instructions given.

They may also retain only a small part of the instructions, leaving jobs unfinished.

Challenges to Tuning In

For people with receptive language disorders, background noise and group settings can make it even more difficult for them to take in and retain information.

This can lead to them struggling to have a meaningful share in conversations and becoming quickly distracted. This apparent lack of concentration can make it hard to form and maintain relationships with peers.

Communication Challenges

Although it is the receptive skills that are compromised with these disorders, this can also impact on verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

People with this disorder often struggle to express themselves naturally. They make limited use of gestures, appropriate facial expressions and body language and lack of variation in tone when speaking.

What Causes Receptive Language Disorders?

As with expressive language disorders, the causes are not always apparent.

However, common causes include:

  • Impaired hearing — making it difficult to catch what is being said
  • Impaired vision — visual cues such as body language and facial expressions are missed
  • Attention disorders — making concentration a challenge

Clearly, some of these issues can be addressed separately. Even if the causes remain unknown, with appropriate language therapy it is possible to make progress.

Summary of Receptive Language Disorders

In short, receiving, understanding and retaining information are great challenges for people with receptive language disorders.

This also impacts on their ability to communicate meaningfully, leading to relationship difficulties.

The Takeaway — Expressive vs Receptive Language Disorders

In summary, while both language disorders present differently, there is overlap in how they impact people’s lives.

Those with receptive language disorders may find it somewhat easier to express themselves that those with expressive disorders. However, the fact that processing messages from others is a challenge does impact on their verbal production.

Difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships with peers and others is also a challenge common to both disorders.

Encouragingly though, there are many case studies of people who with appropriate speech therapy have been able to make great progress in how they handle their disorder.

How We Can Help

At Great Speech, we have an innovative package of online speech therapy services that can help you or your child to develop their speaking and listening skills.

If you’re concerned that speech therapy is just for kids, check out our blog here that shows exactly how adults can benefit from it too.

Click here to see the great range of online speech therapy services that we offer today!


Online Speech Therapy

When Toys Take Center Stage

7 Ways to Actively Promote Language Development in Children

We live in a fast-paced world where new products are outdated once they hit the shelves. But a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that “electronic toys and e-books can make parents less likely to have the most meaningful kinds of verbal exchanges with their children.” Recently, I worked with a two year old who did not know how to turn the pages of a book. All he wanted to do is swipe. While swiping is an important skill to master in today’s iGadget generation, research indicates that reading to your child, turning pages, pointing to pictures and asking questions plays a crucial role in cognitive and language development.

As a licensed speech therapist, my goal is to promote communication. Here are some other tried and true activities which promote language development in babies:

  1. Talk, chat and keep the monologue running. Narrate everything you are doing. It may feel funny at first but eventually it will seem natural and prove beneficial.
  2. Sing a song! Some people prefer to make up silly songs instead of narrating. It’s a personal choice!
  3. Incorporate gestures and facial expressions in your communication to increase engagement.
  4. Be repetitive! Repetition reinforces language development.
  5. Avoid empty words like here and there. Give specific directions, “Bring the ball to the basket instead of bring the ball here.” Never miss the opportunity to introduce new vocabulary.
  6. Maintain eye contact, laugh and be animated. By varying your facial expressions, your child learns proper responses.
  7. Take center stage! A toy is no substitute for a real live conversation. According to the study, a toy should be 10 percent toy and 90 percent child. With many electronic toys, the toy takes over 90 percent and the child just fills in the blanks.

And filling in the blanks is no substitute for real life conversations.

What Gr8 language – based activities have you found helpful?

Online Speech Therapy

Gr8 Lessons for Bilingual Parents

There is a difference between language and speech. Language is unique to humans and is defined as the underlying system that allows humans to interact, share their ideas and thoughts. Language is divided into receptive language, aka understanding language and expressive language, the ability to express thoughts and ideas. Language is essential for cognition and academic development.

Speech, on the other hand, is the ability to coordinate complex system of breathing and articulation, using your tongue, lips and jaw to express language.

Bilingual Homes

Bilingual children are those exposed to another language from birth. That is different process than children who are exposed to one language at birth and then taught a second language later in life.

Lessons for Bilingual Parents

Raising bilingual children poses unique challenges. But probably the biggest challenge is one we all face. What is the best way to foster language development? The answer is to chat in the presence of your child from birth. Narrate your daily activities using short sentences: I’m washing dishes; Dad is cooking dinner. We are walking.

In a bilingual home, parents should speak to their children in the language in which they are most comfortable. The reason for this is that language conveys not only thoughts but also emotions. And emotion does not always present successfully in a second language. Also, it is preferable to model proper speech and grammar, a task at which not everyone excels.

It is also recommended not to mix two languages in one sentence. Though it is a natural tendency on our part, it is preferable to avoid the mix during the early language development stage.

Though raising bilingual children adds an additional chapter to the parenting manual, the benefits are Gr8!

If you can teach your child any language what language would it be?


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