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