Diagnostic Criteria PsychNetBack.gif (1523 bytes)

Refer to conditions of use

Expressive Language Disorder

The scores obtained from standardized individually administered measures of expressive language development are substantially below those obtained from standardized measures of both nonverbal intellectual capacity and receptive language development. The disturbance may be manifest clinically by symptoms that include having a markedly limited vocabulary, making errors in tense, or having difficulty recalling words or producing sentences with developmentally appropriate length or complexity.

Using standardized measures, the patient's scores of expressive language development are materially lower
      than those of both nonverbal intellectual capacity and receptive language development. Clinically, the patient
      may have severely limited vocabulary, make errors of tense, recall words poorly or produce sentences that
     are shorter or less complex than is developmentally appropriate.

This disorder interferes with educational or occupational achievement or with social communication.

It does not fulfill criteria for a Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder or a Pervasive Developmental

If the patient also has Mental Retardation, environmental deprivation or a speech-motor or sensory deficit,
     the problems with language are worse than you would expect with these problems.

Associated Features:

Language difficulties are in excess of those usually associated with these problems.
Environmental Deprivation

Differential Diagnosis 

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his/her diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder
Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Mental Retardation
Sensory deficit


Three to 5% percent of all children will possess expressive language disorder. The child has difficulty understanding and using language. The cause of this disorder is unknown. Problems with receptive skills begins before the age of 4.


Direct theraputic intervention for speech and   language difficulties, together with and psychotherapy, if necessary, are the best approaches to this type of language disorder. Therefore, learning disorders are treated with specialized educational methods. In addition to special classroom instruction at school, students with learning disorders frequently benefit from individualized tutoring which focuses on their specific learning problem.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Psychotherapy is recommended for children because of the possibility of an emotional or behavioral problem associated with mixed receptive-expressive language disorder.

Medical & Other:

Standardized receptive and expressive language tests can be given to any child suspected of having this disorder. An audiogram should also be given to rule out the possibility of deafness

Coding Note

On Axis III code any neurological condition or a speech-motor or sensory deficit.

See also our Developmental Disorders Links Page