Receptive/Expressive Language Delay/Disorder in Preschoolers
Receptive language involves the comprehension of spoken language. Preschoolers with a receptive language disorder have trouble understanding and processing what is said to them. They may have difficulty following directions, may often ask the speaker to repeat themselves, or may appear to be not listening. For a preschooler with this diagnosis, spoken words may sound like a foreign language; the preschooler can hear the words being said, but doesn’t understand what they mean.
Receptive Language Disorders are a broad category and often overlap with other diagnoses. These diagnoses are often used by many people in different ways. Other names for a receptive language disorder may include:
- Auditory Processing Disorder
- Auditory-Linguistic Processing Disorder
- Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD);
- Comprehension Deficit;
- “Delayed language”
Receptive language disorders often coexist with expressive language disorders.
Early Signs and Symptoms
- Echoalia (repeating back words or phrases either immediately or at a later time)
- Inability to follow directions (Following of routine, repetitive directions may be ok)
- Inappropriate, off-target responses to “wh” questions
- Re-auditorization (repeating back a question first then responding to it)
- Difficulty responding appropriately to: yes/no questions, either/or questions, who/what/where questions, when/why/how questions
- Does not attend to spoken language
- May appear to have poor listening skills
- Jargon (sounds like “unintelligible speech”)
- Using “memorized” phrases and sentences
- May need additional time to process information
- Has difficulty presenting information orally
Information courtesy of the Kaufman Children’s Center.
Preschoolers with expressive language disorders have difficulty expressing themselves using speech. The signs and symptoms vary drastically from preschooler to preschooler. The preschooler does not have problems with the pronunciation of words, such as occurs in phonological disorder, or apraxia of speech. The preschooler does have problems putting sentences together coherently, using proper grammar, recalling the appropriate word to use, or other similar problems. A preschooler with an 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 preschooler often has a smaller vocabulary than his or her peers.
Preschoolers with expressive language disorders may have the same ability to understand speech as their peers, and have the same level of intelligence. Therefore, a preschooler with this disorder may understand words that he or she cannot use in sentences. The preschooler may understand complex spoken sentences and be able to carry out intricate instruction, although he or she cannot form complex sentences.
Early Signs & Symptoms
There are many different ways in which expressive language disorder can manifest itself. Preschoolers with this disorder may have one or more of the following indicators:
- Labeling words
- Describing objects or events
Using age-appropriate vocabulary
Expressing word meanings and definitions
Using semantic categories such as: classifying words into categories,associations,
synonyms, antonyms, multiple meaning words
Labeling or retrieving (recalling) the names of objects or events
- Using complete sentences or a variety of sentences
- Sequencing words, thoughts or events or relating events in an organized manner
- Using aspects of grammar such as: verbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions
- Formulating “Wh” questions
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