These two issues are often closely related. They both involve students struggling to express their thoughts and ideas effectively.
So how do they differ? Expressive language issues are broader. They often, but not always, encompass written expression disorder.
For example, let’s say you ask your fourth grader, “Tell me about the best thing that happened to you today.” If your child consistently has trouble answering even fairly basic questions like that, you might be seeing signs of expressive language issues.
A child with expressive language issues typically understands the question. But he struggles to say an answer.
Some students who have a tough time saying what they’re thinking also struggle to write it. These kids may have both expressive language issues and written expression disorder.
However, there are many children who are good talkers, but can’t seem to put their thoughts on paper.
Let’s say you ask your fourth grader’s best friend to tell you about the best thing that happened to him today. He quickly responds: “Well, I was really excited about getting that letter from Grandma and Grandpa in the mail. We haven’t talked to them for a while.”
But what if you asked him to write down that answer? It might take him a very long time to produce a much less detailed answer. If this sounds more like what you’re seeing in your child, then you might want to read up on dysgraphia, which is sometimes referred to as written expression disorder.