Language Delays & Disorders
Receptive language refers to understanding and processing language. A child with a receptive language delay or disorder might have difficulty understanding he or she hears or reads. He or she might show signs of confusion or a lack of understanding in the classroom or struggle to follow verbal directions at home.
Expressive language refers to the verbal and nonverbal means of communicating wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas with others. Verbal means of communication refers to spoken language, while non-verbal expressive language can include gestures, signing, and more. Expressive language is an essential component of our daily lives. A child with an expressive language delay or disorder might have trouble expressing him or herself effectively, produce sentences with incorrect grammar, or use a limited vocabulary.
Some children may experience challenges with receptive language, expressive language, or both. Language disorders differ from language delays in that children with a delay will go through the same stages of language learning as a typically developing child but at a slower pace whereas a child identified as having a language disorder has atypical language acquisition.
Both children with language delays and children with language disorders will most likely continue to demonstrate difficulties with their communication without intervention, such as speech therapy. It is important to identify language delays and disorders early on to prevent a child from falling behind in school and/or developing low self-esteem as a result of their difficulty with communication.
Children who may benefit from speech therapy for expressive and/or receptive language disorders:
Children who have a limited vocabulary.
Children who have trouble forming sentences and more complex utterances.
Children who have difficulty understanding and following directions.
Children who have difficulty answering ‘WH’ questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how).
A speech-language pathologist can provide a comprehensive speech and language evaluation to determine whether a child shows signs of a language disorder. Based on the results of the evaluation, a speech-language pathologist is able to provide recommendations for ongoing services to meet the unique needs of the child and build his or her expressive and/or receptive language skills.