Jeremy Ohara

Jeremy Ohara

The World Sees a Sudden Increase in Expressive Language Disorder: Is It a Matter Of Concern?

  Jan 17, 2024
Reviewed by Ravinder Kaur

With COVID sneaking in, we witnessed a sharp shoot-up in birth rates in many countries. Do you have a friend, coworker, or family member who recently welcomed a new baby? If so, they’re part of a nationwide trend. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has experienced a subtle “baby bump,” according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper co-authored by Northwestern University economist Hannes Schwandt. 

Due to the increase in infant mortality during the lockdown, we also came across a huge problem of rapidly increasing expressive language disorders in children as well as adults due to a lack of interactions and more screen time.

Expressive language disorder is a persistent condition affecting people of different ages. A person can decode a message but finds it difficult to put his thoughts into words when expressing them to the sender. Experts of COVID have found it to be the root cause of expressive speech delays in children.

One Way Communication Inability to Express Inner Thoughts

What is an Expressive Language Disorder? And Why is it a Streamlined Topic of Discussion?

From the inception of birth to adulthood, the human body goes through different developments, but most of the cognitive development takes place in the initial years of infanthood, i.e., 0–3 years. As the child grows, he learns new things from his surroundings and tries to express himself through gestures and language. Along with that, his expressive vocabulary expands.

But if the child hesitates to express himself vocally and instead uses gestures to communicate with others, he might have an expressive language disorder. In childhood, if the child begins talking late, he can ultimately lag behind his peer group, and late talking could be regarded as a harbinger of a developmental disorder. But can also indicate budding autism in the child.

Signs of Expressive Language Disorder and Autisms

Expressive language disorder can be divided into two broad categories, i.e., developmental language disorder, which develops in early childhood due to some sort of childhood trauma or through genetics. The other kind is called acquired expressive language disorder, which is a language disorder in adults caused by brain injury or trauma that triggers brain functioning.

Aphasia (loss of control over the ability to use and understand language) is a subcategory of expressive language disorder that can hamper anyone with an unknown beginning. Nearly 1 million people are affected by it each year in the USA, without discriminating between different genders or age groups.

Early Detectors or Symptoms of  Expressive Language Disorder 

In Childhood:

Childhood is a stepping stone for hands-on learning, which shapes adulthood. And any disorder that could disrupt learning should be dealt with as soon as possible. For that detection to become significant,

  • “Late talking” is one of the earliest symptoms indicative of a disorder.
  • Murmuring in my mouth before voicing any thought.
  • Lack of social skills, i.e., prefer less communication with their family and people of their age. And feel aloof from their peer group because of a lack of initiative in initiating as well as maintaining communication. Prefer gestures and signs over uttering words and sentences.
  • Lack of response to conversations and feedback.
  • They could not make out the sequencing of the experiences or what was said and when.
  • Prefer expressing themselves through visuals than with words.
  • Children with this disorder usually have autism as well. So, they have revolting minds when they express themselves.
  • They could not make sense of pronunciations when performed in class. That’s why they have a hard time learning and expressing intonation and modulation.
  • They are less playful and more reserved, even with their close ones, because of their inability to express themselves.
  • Children tend to use vague or incorrect words.
  • Stuttering with minimalist words in a sentence makes making sentences a huge task.

In Adults:

  • Have a hard time answering and asking questions.
  • Imprecise and unsuitable use of verbs, adverbs, and adjectives while forming a sentence.
  • Aloofness from social gatherings because of language disorders in adults.
  • Becomes an extreme introvert from an extrovert.
  • There was not much visible growth in vocabulary from childhood.
  • Repeat the same words in a chain.
  • Use vague language with inappropriate grammar.
  • Basic phrases and words become the only means of communication.
  • Manifest silent treatment or mutism disorder.

Causes That are Responsible for Expressive Disorder

Brain Injury

The main cause of expressive disorder in adults is brain injury due to accidents or any other mishap that creates a rupture in the brain. Even in childhood, parents are advised to be more careful with a child’s head, as it is the most sensitive and crucial part of his development.


Genes, which we inherit from our parents and forefathers, have a great impact on our lives. Thus, if any of the past generations suffered from the same disorder, it is most likely that we can inherit it from them.


Any past trauma or anything that brought emotional turmoil into the life of a person and resulted in the breaking of his emotional cords, thus causing distress, can contribute to this disorder in the case of adult expressive vocabulary.

Developmental Difficulties or Impairments

A person who is already suffering from Down syndrome, autism, hearing loss, or any other kind of impairment could also be prey to expressive language disorder.

Receptive Disorder

It is most likely that a person who is dyslexic or has a receptive disorder could also be suffering from an expressive language disorder because, when a person is not able to decode the message properly, how could he encode it further?

Lack of Nutrition 

“Investing in early childhood nutrition is a surefire strategy. The returns are incredibly high.” Anne M. Mulcahy rightly informs us of the significance of nutrition in childhood in the above quote. Lack of nutrition results in malnutrition, which hampers the growth of our brain cells, further affecting our whole body in general.

It can also be said that, apart from these many reasons, there could also be some undefined causes that could contribute to this disorder.

Causes of Expressive Language Disorder

Is the Treatment Necessary for Expressive Disorder?

When you dig deeper into this question, all you get is a yes! It is of utmost importance that anyone who is suffering from expressive language disorder gets treatment so that they can lead a less bumpy life and not become an alone wolf. What is most significant is that it needs to be detected at an initial stage so that the best treatments and practices, like the Orton Gillingham reading program, can be provided the soonest.

Kinds of Treatment Available for Expressive Language Disorder

Expressive Language Therapies 

Language and speech therapy are the most commonly used therapies for the treatment of this disorder. But the progress a child or an adult makes through it depends on their capacities and responses to treatment.

Speech therapy involves: 

  • Identification and pronunciation of certain sounds and syllables for a better understanding of sounds.
  •  Breathing exercises teach when to take breaks between words for clarity in utterance. 
  •  Planning what to say in a certain situation and how to do it.
  • Aids in improving communication through the visual representation of things using boards and computers.
  • Involving close ones while conversing so that the hesitation goes away.

There is a slight difference between speech and language therapy. Speech therapy teaches the child how the words sound, whereas language therapy teaches the child the meaning of the word and where and how to use it.

Language therapy involves:

  • Making the child understand words and their meanings using different aids.
  • Helping the child make shorter and more meaningful sentences, thus boosting their morale.
Ongoing Group Speech Therapy


Under this, the therapist, through art and digging deep into the psychology of the child, tries to ease the child’s discomfort with speech. Counseling is also one method used for treating individuals suffering from this disorder. But the duration of sessions depends on the symptoms and the degree of the person’s suffering. 

Under this therapy, the counselor, in the beginning, tries to explore the minds of the children with minimalist words and vocabulary. And when the child becomes comfortable with him, he tries to hold a conversation with him, and thus confidence development begins in the child.

Learning With Kids With the Same Disorder

Many online and offline courses provide exposure as well as speech and language therapy in a playful way, which can help children develop confidence and become less hesitant when expressing themselves. 

It is also a remarkable discovery in the field of treatment for this disorder because many children are suffering from it, and they see a ray of hope when they encounter children suffering from the same disorder in their surroundings when they are a part of these therapies.

Parental Guidance And The Theory Of Preparing For The Future

It is often said that treatment begins at home. Parents can also contribute to the development of their children by preparing them for the future. 

This could be done through the regular practice of the things taught in the past or by making the child prepare in advance so that when it is taught in the class, he could answer and ask questions, thus not feeling hesitant about participating in the class.

Reward System

This method could be used by both the therapists and the parents to encourage the child to participate in social life and develop social skills. Every action and effort of the child to speak properly should be encouraged by praise or with little gifts. This helps the child discover more words and feel less hesitant about speaking.

What is of utmost importance is to have patience while the treatment is still in progress. Every child is different from the others, and so is their progress. No parent should compare their child with any other child going through the same disorder. As this disorder is a lifelong condition, the results are not guaranteed. 


There is no specific reason for expressive disorder, and there is also no specific treatment. Step-by-step progress could be made through the above-mentioned treatments and lots of love and kindness.