As far as disorders go there are literally thousands out there that people have to deal with each day. There are disorders for nearly every facet of life and many of them relate directly to how we communicate with one another. That being said, a fairly new disorder that has been diagnosed is expressive language disorder. Though this disorder is exceedingly hard to diagnose, it affects more people than we know. This type of disorder is harder to diagnose and treat than many other disorders that have been categorized.
What is Expressive Language Disorder?
Before you begin to ponder this disorder, you should first know precisely what it is. Expressive language disorder is a communication disorder that affects both the written and spoken ability in adults and children to express themselves with words. This could mean something as simple as confusing the meaning of words to the point that it becomes hard to tell people what you are trying to say, to something as difficult as being unable to communicate your feelings at all. This disorder more commonly effects the spoken expression of feelings and ideas rather than written but can have an effect on both.
With expressive language disorder, the ability to use expressive language in a spoken instance is far lower in mental age and mentality than that of the speaker. This means that the words and phrases used to relay information from one person to another is going to be far more rudimentary than the age of the person speaking. Someone that has this disorder that is thirty for example may use words and phrases that would be common with that of a ten year old. The disorder generally makes it difficult for the person affected to remember words, form complex sentences, or even remember what they are trying to say. This however does not affect their cognitive ability to understand what they are trying to say, it simply affects the delivery.
With this type of disorder the affects can either be completely in the mind of the individual and their own struggle to deal with it or it can manifest into abnormalities in articulation that make it nearly impossible for the person affected to speak and relay information.
What is a Communication Disorder?
This is a disorder that falls under the classification of a communication disorder. That being said, to better understand expressive language disorder it may be helpful to first understand what a communication disorder it. This is any disorder that affects the ability of an individual to communicate, relay feelings or ideas, or understand the communication of another person. Some forms of autism fall under this definition and many disorders that have directly to do with language, reading, and writing can also fall into this category. This type of disorder is generally more common than you might think and can be treated rather easily with the proper care.
What Does it Affect?
There are a few different areas that this sort of communication disorder affects, the first is memory. Now memories that are not associated with speech or the ability to relay feelings with the use of speech are not affected. This means you will remember how it felt when you first learned to ride a bike but you will not be able to articulate the joy you felt if you were asked about it. This type of disorder also affects the ability of the individual to express emotion and how they are feeling. This can be very troubling for those that have jobs where they need to speak to people often.
This type of disorder makes it difficult to attend school and perform satisfactorily as well as hold down a job without issue. Though this does affect your job and school, there are forms of therapy that can help keep the disorder under control. This type of communication disorder also makes it difficult to form and nurture relationships which may result in a child that does not have many friends and an adult that does not have an active romantic or social life.
Who Does it Affect?
This disorder can affect anyone. Though it is most often not caught until later in life, it can affect children on a very detrimental level. In most cases, this disorder manifests in children in the form of a learning disability. Teachers may call home stating that a child has trouble expressing ideas and feelings and that further evaluation may be necessary. That being said, in most cases, when this disorder is classified as a learning disorder it becomes the burden of the parent to take the child for further evaluation. In most cases, this type of disorder will not be picked up on by anyone until the child begins to talk and be held accountable for higher level communication.
This means that a child can be struggling with this disorder undetected for years before they are ever diagnosed or treated. That being said, in most cases if the disorder is caught early enough the child can receive therapy to help deal with the issues that it presents. This disorder can also affect adults. In some rare cases the disorder will go undiagnosed until adulthood at which time it will begin to affect their ability to function properly in the outside world. In adults, the treatment is much the same as with children.
The disorder is most commonly observed when the child begins to talk and has trouble expressing themselves. This disorder more commonly affects boys than girls and has no known causes at this time.
Types of Expressive Language Disorder
There are two different types of this disorder, the first is developmental expressive language disorder. This is the form of the disorder that is most commonly picked up on as the child begins to talk. This is the form of the disorder that more commonly affects boys than girls. This type of disorder needs to be handled very carefully. In some cases, brain injury, brain disorders, or other major health issues can lead to trouble speaking and with expression. If you feel your child has this disorder take the time to see a specialist. In many cases, atypical language development may be a sign of something more serious an as such you should take care to have this disorder professionally diagnosed as soon as possible.
The second form of the disorder is called acquired expressive language disorder. This form of the disorder is directly related to brain injury that causes damage to the part of the brain that is responsible for communication and speech. Something like a stroke or traumatic injury can lead to this type of the disorder. Seizures can also be responsible for this form of the disorder. With this form of the disorder, there may be no real way to deal with the issues it presents unless the damage to the brain is reversed.
In many cases this type of disorder is paired with a secondary or primary disorder like ADHD or autism. In these cases, the primary disorder or complaint is the issue that is taken care of rather than the secondary issue. If say for instance a student is both diagnosed with autism and expressive language disorder, the student would be cared for as if autism were the main issue. This means that teachers specifically trained to deal with and teach autistic students would help the student that suffered from both. In many cases, students with this disorder are still treated as if they have a learning disability and special teachers are employed to insure that they have a proper education and care while at school.
The main issue is effective instruction in literature. This means allowing these students the ability to see in writing how to express themselves. This type of teaching can often be a form of therapy that helps these students get to know how they can express themselves. Teachers will be required to manipulate their classroom and curriculum to fit the students that have this disorder in order to effectively teach them. At this time, there is no specific cure for this type of disorder in anyone let alone students. That being said, there are some ways that students and adults alike can deal with this type of disorder.
At the moment, though there is no cure, there are therapies in place that can help these individuals learn how to communicate. In children and adults alike, speech therapy is a great way to learn what phrases are associated with what and how they should be able to express themselves. Therapist also have the ability to teach individuals suffering from expressive language disorder how to cope with stress and situations in which the disorder becomes overwhelming. Coping mechanisms can help to reduce stress and make it easier for these individuals to stop and process what they are trying to say.
What is Being Done?
There are tons of researchers out there now that are working to decide just what causes this type of disorder and what can be done to remedy it. In cases where brain damage is to blame it may be possible to repair the damaged areas of the brain to better relay information and improve expression. In those that have run into the disorder through natural development there are now more therapies than ever to help deal with the side effects.
Though the focus is always the cure, there are now several prominent researchers that are focused on finding ways to improve the lives of those that suffer from this and other communication disorders. With time and concentrated effort, there will be cures that pop up and actually work but at this time efforts are still concentrated on helping those in need. If you believe that you or someone you know suffers from expressive language disorder or any other communication disorder you should seek immediate help. In some cases the sudden onset of these disorders can be a precursor to something more dangerous and deadly. You should the upmost caution and get help. Living with expressive language disorder is not ever going to be easy, but it does not have to be impossible with the proper help and the right information.