Expressive Language refers to Communication Skills in Children
Expressive language is a broad term that describes communication skills in children. It is about how children use Expressive language skills to convey their wants & needs and to interact with others effectively.
Communication skills encompasses verbal and nonverbal communication skills and how an individual uses language. Expressive language or Communication skills in children include:
• The ability to vocalise to communicate: cries, whinge, exclamations (wow), saying words
• Facial expressions,
• Natural gestures (e.g., pointing and lifting arms up to be picked up) and formal sign language
• Intentionality (i.e., the effort & want to request or let people know your ideas, needs etc)
• Expressive vocabulary levels (number and type of different words) (see our Online Word Counter for under 3 years)
• Semantics (word/sentence meaning),
• Morphology (grammatical markers on words (e.g., s = plural or more than one (cats); -ed = finished/past tense),
• Syntax (grammar rules of putting words into sentences e.g., including small words like “is” (He running vs He is running); word order (“the big red ball” vs “ball big red”), and• Written texts and picture signs
Expressive Language Development in Children Follows a Developmental Continuum
All of the above Expressive language skills follow developmental milestones becoming more mature and sophisticated as the child’s understanding and age develops.
Expressive language skills in Babies begin with different cries to tell you they are hungry or hurt or uncomfortable. These communication skills move to gestures and general vocalisations as toddler communication skills emerge. Moving from the toddler period to the Pre-school period children’s expressive language skills typically show an extremely rapid growth spurt as first words and sentences emerge. This growth in expressive communication skills continues all throughout primary and high school and encompass their growing capacity to express themselves in writing as well as talking!
Can Children have delayed Expressive Communication Skills and Good Comprehension Skills?
Some children may have delayed understanding skills (receptive language Delays) and expressive language delays. Other children however can have very good understanding skills but present with expressive language delays or difficulties.
For children with significant expressive language delays and/or speech disorders, being able to express themselves solely by “talking” may not be achievable in the short-term or even the long-term. When this is the case it is still extremely important that children have a way to “tell” you what they need and want. For these children Augmentative or Alternative Communication Systems (AAC) may need to be put into place to assist with expressive communication skills. This can include formal sign language and picture pointing systems of low-tech (e.g., picture boards) to high-tech (computer based communication systems).
Many Factors that can impact on Expressive Language Development
Some developmental paths may find the development of Expressive Language more difficult than children following a typical developmental path (e.g., children with Autism. Down’s Syndrome, Intellectual Impairment, Cerebral Palsy/ Neurological issues, Dyspraxia or late talkers).
For some children there may have been specific factors that may have impacted on their expressive communication development. This can in approximately 10% of the population, it can be impossible to identify children are present with expressive language difficulties
Providing early intervention for expressive language or communication skills is crucial for all children presenting with delayed or disordered expressive language ability.
We are here to help!
SpeechNet Speech Pathology offers assessment and speech therapy for all children presenting with delayed communication skills across the ages. The goal is to investigate possible blocks reducing the development of expressive language skills and supporting a child to communicate the best they can with their current skills and developmental levels (this may or may not include looking at AAC options).
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