Expressive language disorder

How we tailor therapy to suit your child’s needs in expressive language.

What is Expressive Language Disorder?

Expressive Language disorder is characterised by a limited vocabulary, difficulty constructing complex sentences, and trouble remembering words. A child with this disorder may struggle to express themselves through their own use of language. For example, they may understand and enjoy listening to stories, but have difficulty explaining what had happened in their own words.

Our expressive language includes the ability to:

• Ask questions

• Name objects

• Form complex sentences

• Remember songs and rhymes accurately

• Maintain a topic in conversation

If your child does not have difficulty with these skills, and has trouble understanding language, they may have Receptive Language Disorder.

How is it assessed?

For ages 5 and above:

At Speakable we use the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF) to assess people from ages 5 to 21 years of age. The CELF allows insight into many areas of language: morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonological awareness. Although it can over an hour to administer, the CELF is valuable as it allows therapists to compare the child’s language to others of the same age group.

For ages 5 and below:

For younger children your Speech Pathologist may use the Renfrew Action Picture Test (RAPT) and Renfrew's Bus Story Test. These tests are norm-referenced, meaning it allows the therapist to compare the child's performance to children of the same age group. Both tests are short and simple, and do not take long to administer. They informs us of the child's ability to retell a story.

How does Speakable treat Expressive Language disorder?

Firstly a Speech Pathologist will conduct a thorough assessment of your child’s language abilities. This allows therapy to be guided by your child’s strengths and areas of improvement. Therapy to treat Expressive Language Disorder varies greatly, depending on the needs of the child.

What can I do?

At Speakable it is likely your Speech Pathologist will provide you with activities to do at home. However the following strategies have been shown to help children develop expressive language overall:

• Daily reading time:

See our blog post for advice on effective reading time.

• Naming objects you see:

In everyday activities, don’t be afraid to point to items you and your child can see. Encourage them to name the item, or explicitly teach them. For example, when food shopping, you can play a game where you take turns naming as many things as you can. Even by demonstrating naming, you are already helping your child expand their vocabulary.

• Encourage your child to use their words:

A lot of children who have speech and language difficulties have found ways to disguise this fact. For example, they may point at an item instead of asking for it. Gently remind your child to “use your words.” You can also model to your child how they can use their words and ask them to copy you.

• Ask them questions:

Throughout the day there are many opportunities to ask questions. Perhaps you have just watched something on television, saw a poster, or saw an event in the park. For example, you can ask your child, “What just happened with the lady in the park?” and if their response is short, encourage them to expand by saying, “How can we put that in a sentence?”

• Teach your child to summarise their day:

At the end of the day you and your child can draw some pictures about what you did that day. Then you can ask them to tell a story using those pictures. For example, “Look, Daddy has come home! Why don’t you tell him what we did today using your words and our pictures?”

Where can I get more information?

For information on delay and strategies see:The Hanen Program

To understand the difference between a Language Disorder and a Learning Disability see Smart Speech Therapy

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