Skip navigation

Expressive language disorder - developmental

Developmental expressive language disorder is a condition in which a child has lower than normal ability in vocabulary, producing complex sentences, and remembering words. However, a child with this disorder may have the normal language skills needed to understand verbal or written communication.

Causes

Expressive language disorder is common in school-aged children.

The causes are not well understood. Damage to the cerebrum of the brain and malnutrition may cause some cases. Genetic factors may also be involved.

Symptoms

Symptoms of this disorder may include any of the following:

  • Below-average vocabulary skills
  • Improper use of tenses (past, present, future)
  • Problems making complex sentences
  • Problems remembering words

Exams and Tests

Standardized expressive language and nonverbal intellectual tests should be conducted if an expressive language disorder is suspected. Testing for other learning disabilities may also be needed.

Treatment

Language therapy is the best method to treat this type of disorder. The goal of this therapy is to increase the number of phrases a child can use. This is done by using block-building techniques and speech therapy.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How much the child recovers depends on the severity of the disorder. With reversible factors, such as vitamin deficiencies, there may be nearly full recovery.

Children who do not have any other developmental or motor coordination problems have the best outlook (prognosis). Often, such children have a family history of delays in language milestones, but eventually catch up.

Possible Complications


  • Learning problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social problems

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you are concerned about a child's language development, have the child tested.

Prevention

Good nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood and prenatal care may help.

Alternative Names

Language disorder - expressive

References

Simms MD, Schum RL. Language development and communication disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 32.

Update Date: 5/14/2014

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo