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Expressive language disorder - developmental


Developmental expressive language disorder is a disorder in which a child has lower-than-normal proficiency in vocabulary, the production of complex sentences, and recall of words.

Alternative Names

Language disorder - expressive


Approximately 3 - 10% of all school-age children have expressive language disorder. The causes of this disorder may vary, or may be unknown. Cerebral damage and malnutrition may cause some cases -- perhaps in combination with genetic factors.


  • Below-average vocabulary skills
  • Improper use of tenses (past, present, future)
  • Problems in the production of complex sentences
  • Problems in recalling words

Exams and Tests

Standardized expressive language and non-verbal intellectual tests should be conducted if an expressive language disorder is suspected. Testing for other learning disabilities may also be needed.


Language therapy is the best method to remedy 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)

The degree of recovery depends on the severity of the disorder. With reversible factors like 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

  • Problems with socialization
  • Learning problems
  • Low self-esteem

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Parents who are concerned about a child's language development should have the child tested.


Good nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood and prenatal care may help. Other methods of prevention are unknown.

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