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Alternative NamesLanguage disorder - expressive
Definition Return to top
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, children with this disorder may have the normal language skills needed to understand verbal or written communication.
Causes Return to top
Approximately 3 - 10% of all school-age children have expressive language disorder. It is a pretty common issue in children.
The causes of this disorder are not well understood. Damage to the cerebrum of the brain and malnutrition may cause some cases. Genetic factors may also be involved.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
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 Return to top
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) Return to top
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 Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
If you are concerned about a child's language development, have the child tested.
Prevention Return to top
Good nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood and prenatal care may help. Other methods of prevention are unknown.
References Return to top
Simms MD. Language disorders in children: classification and clinical syndromes. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2007;54(3):437-467.Update Date: 6/18/2008 Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.