What is an Expressive Language Delay in children (DELD)?

expressive delay expressive language delay

Many speech pathology assessment reports will conclude a child has an expressive language delay. However, what is an expressive language delay?

​Expressive language delay is actually a broad term that simply means that a child is having trouble using their expressive language skills to communicate with others and to learn (e.g., delays in saying words, vocabulary, talking and writing in sentences, pointing, gesturing and/ or signing).

​Expressive Language Delay in children is also know by a number of terms such as:

  • ELD - Expressive Language Delay
  • DELD – Developmental Expressive Language Delay
  • LLD – Late Language Development (see late talkers)
  • Expressive Delays

Why does every child that is given a diagnosis of an Expressive Language Delay Present Differently?

​Every child given a diagnosis of expressive delay will present differently. This is because it is such a wide sweeping term with some children having trouble saying words, others might be poor at saying sentences and other still may have to use Alternative or Augmentative Communication (AAC) systems to “express themselves”. In addition, some children may have mild expressive language delays and some may have very severe expressive delays. Some children may also have other factors impacting on how their expressive language delay will present (see Autism, Late Talkers, Twin Development).

​Role of the Speech Pathologist with Children with Expressive Language Delays.

The role of the speech pathologist is to work out why a child is not able to communicate with others and how to then help them manage the expressive delays. Children with DELD will present with different strengths and gaps in their expressive skills. How an expressive language delay presents will be different depending on the child’s age. (see our age by age guide to expressive language below or our menu for expressive language for the different age groups).

expressive delay expressive language delay
​Common areas of expressive delays include:
  • Reduced expressive vocabulary (e.g. number and type of words used when talking and writing, word finding difficulties),
  • Difficulties putting words together to form sentences (immature sentences, poorly written sentences and assignments).
  • Difficulties with grammatic formats (e.g. he vs him, grammatical markers like possessives “Dad’s key”)
  • Difficulties sequencing information together into a logical order (e.g., word order at sentence level or logical sequence of events in a re-tell of a story).
  • Difficulties in other areas that reduces the child’s ability to express themselves. Generally. a child is not going to speak or say a word if they do not understand the word/s. (e.g., reduce Receptive Language . Some children may not be able to produce speech sound clearly and this can reduce their expressive language skills (e.g., speech disorders ).

The implications of an Expressive Language Delay can be far reaching. Assessment and treatment can be obtained from a qualified speech-language pathologists and this is strongly recommended if a child is presenting with difficulties communicating or having difficulties at school.

Age by Age Guide to Expressive Language

expressive delay expressive language delay
expressive delay expressive language delay
expressive delay expressive language delay
expressive delay expressive language delay
expressive delay expressive language delay

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