Expressive language disorder
makes it hard to get your message across. People who have it can understand what others are saying. But when it’s time to express their own thoughts, they have trouble doing it.
Signs usually show up in early childhood, but kids don’t outgrow expressive language disorder. The challenges continue into adulthood. Having this learning difference doesn’t mean people aren’t smart. They just struggle with certain language skills.
Here are some signs of expressive language disorder at different ages.
Signs of expressive language disorder in preschool
Begins speaking late compared to other kids the same age
Leaves out words
Has lower than average vocabulary
Uses gestures to help get points across with others
Has trouble with early language skills like rhyming
Signs of expressive language disorder in grade school
Uses vague words like thing or stuff when speaking
Struggles to remember words
Has trouble using words correctly
Doesn’t talk much, seems withdrawn
Says things like “uh” and “huh” to stall for time when struggling for words
Signs of expressive language disorder in middle school
Avoids interacting with teachers and peers
Has a limited vocabulary compared to kids the same age
Pauses or gives short and simple answers to complex questions
Jumbles tenses and drops words
Signs of expressive language disorder in high school
Doesn’t tell stories in a logical way
Leaves out pronouns and verbs in writing assignments
Avoids social interactions
Doesn’t join in group conversations
Signs of expressive language disorder in adulthood
Struggles to make small talk at work, doesn’t interact much with colleagues
Uses short, simple sentences and phrases
Uses the same phrases over and over
May have difficulty giving presentations
Expressive language disorder can be frustrating and embarrassing. But there are things that can help. Speech-language therapy can improve language skills, especially if treatment starts at a young age. Students may be able to get accommodations and therapy at school. And adults may be able to get accommodations at work.