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Published on Mar 21, 2009
Definition Expressive language disorder occurs when an individual has problems expressing him or herself using spoken language.
Description Expressive language disorder is generally a childhood disorder. There are two types of expressive language disorder: the developmental type and the acquired type. Developmental expressive language disorder does not have a known cause and generally appears at the time a child is learning to talk. Acquired expressive language disorder is caused by damage to the brain. It occurs suddenly after events such as stroke or traumatic head injury. The acquired type can occur at any age.
Causes and symptoms Causes There is no known cause of developmental expressive language disorder. Research is ongoing to determine which biological or environmental factors may be the cause. Acquired expressive language disorder is caused by damage to the brain. Damage can be sustained during a stroke, or as the result of traumatic head injury, seizures, or other medical conditions. The way in which acquired expressive language disorder manifests itself in a specific person depends on which parts of the brain are injured and how badly they are damaged.
Symptoms Expressive language disorder is characterized by a child having difficulty expressing him- or herself using speech. The signs and symptoms vary drastically from child to child. The child does not have problems with the pronunciation of words, as occurs in phonological disorder. The child does have problems putting sentences together coherently, using proper grammar, recalling the appropriate word to use, or other similar problems. A child with expressive language disorder is not able to communicate thoughts, needs, or wants at the same level or with the same complexity as his or her peers. The child often has a smaller vocabulary than his or her peers.
Children with expressive language disorder have the same ability to understand speech as their peers, and have the same level of intelligence. Therefore, a child with this disorder may understand words that he or she cannot use in sentences. The child may understand complex spoken sentences and be able to carry out intricate instructions, although he or she cannot form complex sentences.
There are many different ways in which expressive language disorder can manifest itself. Some children do not properly use pronouns, or leave out functional words such as "is" or "the." Other children cannot recall words that they want to use in the sentence and substitute general words such as "thing" or "stuff." Some children cannot organize their sentences so that the sentences are easy to understand. These children do comprehend the material they are trying to express—they just cannot create the appropriate sentences with which to express their thoughts.