Expressive Language is a condition in which a child has difficulty using words to express his/her needs, wants, and thoughts. These difficulties are notable when the child’s skills are compared to other children the same age.


Symptoms of Expressive Language Disorder include:

  • Limited babbling as an infant/toddler
  • Relying heavily on gestures, pointing, or other non-verbal means to communicate
  • Delays in speaking first words
  • Using as few words as possible
  • Frustration with others not understanding what he/she is trying to communicate
  • Relying on stock standard phrases (e.g., saying “I’m tired” to mean I’m hungry, I don’t want to, and/or I need something)
  • Having a small vocabulary
  • Struggling to remember or come up with the right word
  • Relying on short, simple sentence construction
  • Using non-specific terms (i.e., “that,” “do it,”) to describe objects and events
  • Inability to tell others about past experiences (trip to the zoo, how he/she got hurt)
  • Producing grammar errors resulting from incorrect word form (“two cat,” “I running,”), errors in pronouns (“him likes it!”), or incorrect word order
  • You don’t understand what your child says or what he/she says frequently does not make sense
  • Problems with retelling a story or relaying information
  • Inability to start or carry a conversation
  • Language skills below the expected level for his/her age (See “Let’s Talk About: Language Development” )

Brief description of rehab evaluation:

To evaluate expressive language disorder, the speech-language pathologist will assess your child’s ability to communicate and interact. The therapist will talk and play with your child. The therapist may also observe how you and your child interact as you talk and play together. Your child may be asked to look at books, name pictures, answer questions, talk about pictures, or participate in other structured activities.

Brief description of common rehab treatment interventions:

Treatment is play-based and will focus on your child’s areas of difficulty. You will learn specific techniques you can use in your normal daily activities (playing with toys, mealtime, dressing, going places, etc.) that will help your child express him/herself with words and improve communication.

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