Expressive Language

What is expressive language?

Expressive language is the use of gestures, words, sentences, and writing to convey messages to others. Expressive language skills include requesting preferred objects, asking for assistance, labeling objects, describing actions and events, combining words into sentences, retelling a story, answering questions, and using appropriate grammatical rules.

Why is a child's expressive language important?

Expressive language is a vital skill. Put simply, this is your child's voice. It allows them to communicate their wants/needs, ask for assistance, and effectively communicate in a variety of situations including socially and academically.

How can I tell if my child is struggling with expressive language skills?

The acquisition of expressive language skills is most often associated with a child's age. To understand where your child should be expressively, compare them to age-matched peers or check the list of skills typically acquired for children his or her age on this chart here.

Some examples of expressive language difficulties in children include:

  • Difficulty naming common items such as objects, animals, or foods
  • Difficulty linking together words to create phrases or sentences or if the child's sentences are often shorter than that of age-matched peers
  • Immature sentences for his or her age
  • Frequently uses "made-up" words
  • Difficulty re-telling a story
  • Difficulty using common grammatical forms (such as past tense verbs, action verbs, etc.) in comparison to age-matched peers
  • Difficulty answering questions

What does treatment look like for an expressive language delay?

Treatment for a child exhibiting expressive-language delay can be very diverse. We strive to provide individualized treatment to best meet the needs of the child. This can range from play-based treatment to more structured instruction. Please do not hesitate to ask your treating therapist the treatment plan and the treatment methods utilized.

What can I do at home?

  • Play with your child! Young children learn best through play. Therefore, engage your child in play on a regular basis and model how to appropriately play with various toys. Be sure to talk about what you are doing with the toys.
  • Talk to the child often throughout the day-about where you are going, what you're are doing, etc.
  • Expand your child's language. Repeat what your child's is saying and add one or two words to it. For example, if your child points and says, "car," you can say, "a red car."
  • Engage your child in joint-book reading often. Talk to your child about the pictures and the story.
  • Your therapist will provide more suggestions on how to promote expressive language in the home environment during treatment.

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