Expressive language disorder occurs when an individual has problems expressing him or herself using spoken language.
Expressive language disorder is generally a childhood disorder. Developmental expressive language disorder does not have a known cause and generally appears at the time a child is learning to talk.
Expressive language disorder is characterized by a child having difficulty expressing him- or herself using speech. The signs and symptoms vary drastically from child to child. The child does not have problems with the pronunciation of words, as occurs in a speech disorder. The child does have problems putting sentences together coherently, using proper grammar, recalling the appropriate word to use, or other similar problems. A child with 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 child often has a smaller vocabulary than his or her peers.
There are many different ways in which expressive language disorder can manifest itself. Some children do not properly use pronouns, or leave out functional words such as "is" or "the." Other children cannot recall words that they want to use in the sentence and substitute general words such as "thing" or "stuff." Some children cannot organize their sentences so that the sentences are easy to understand. These children do comprehend the material they are trying to express—they just cannot create the appropriate sentences with which to express their thoughts.