Expressive vs. Receptive Language

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Expressive vs. Receptive Language

If a person has trouble understanding others or sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings, the person may have a language disorder. A language disorder can be a receptive or expressive language disorder. To determine if your child has receptive or expressive language difficulties, it is important to understand the difference between receptive language and expressive language.

Receptive language is the “input” of language, the ability to understand and comprehend spoken language that you hear or read. For example, a child’s ability to listen and follow directions (e.g. “Put on your coat”) relies on the child’s receptive language skills. In typical development, children are able to understand language before they are able to produce it. Children who are unable to comprehend language may have receptive language difficulties or a receptive language disorder.

Children who have difficulty understanding language may struggle with the following:

•Following directions

•Understanding what gestures mean

•Answering questions

•Identifying objects and pictures

•Reading comprehension

•Understanding a story

Expressive language is the “output” of language, the ability to express your wants and needs through verbal or nonverbal communication. It is the ability to put thoughts into words and sentences in a way that makes sense and is grammatically correct. Children that have difficulty communicating their wants and needs may have expressive language difficulties or an expressive language disorder. For example, children may have expressive language difficulties if they are unable to tell you when they need to use the bathroom or when they are hungry.

•Children who have difficulty producing language may struggle with the following:

•Asking questions

•Naming objects

•Using gestures

•Using facial expressions

•Making comments


•Syntax (grammar rules)

•Semantics (word/sentence meaning)

•Morphology (forms of words)


If you have questions about your child’s language development we’d be happy to help. Schedule a free phone consultation or complete our innovative therapist match survey via the link below. 



Why is language teletherapy with TherapyWorks effective?

TherapyWorks has built a unique and extensive network of highly specialized, experienced pediatric therapists that would not otherwise be available to treat privately. How did we do this? We created a flexible job option for our therapists. With the rise of the “gig economy” in the US, we realized that bringing this work option to the pediatric therapy world would give our clients access to highly specialized therapists that would not otherwise have the opportunity to treat private clients. TherapyWorks has built a large network of therapists with a variety of backgrounds, all of whom hold a masters or doctorate degree in their field. Our extensive talent pool enables us to thoughtfully match each child with a therapist that has the right training and experience based on that child’s specific needs. The result is effective, successful therapy.

COVID-19 Protocol

We hope you and your family are continuing to stay safe and healthy! We have outlined our protocols for in-person sessions during COVID-19. As you know, the health and safety of our clients and therapists remain our highest priority. As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work together through these unprecedented times.

Hand Washing:
Upon arrival at your home, your therapist will wash their hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer. We ask that you and your child also wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon your therapist’s arrival.
We are asking our therapists to wear masks upon entering your home and throughout your child’s session. That said, we understand that some children have adverse reactions to seeing adults in masks and will leave it up to you and your therapist to decide your comfort level while still taking safety precautions.
We ask that parents and caregivers also follow the guidelines and wear masks when sitting in on sessions. We will not enforce that policy, but we do kindly ask for compliance.
As for your child, we realize that masks may not be appropriate for every child so we will not enforce the rule that children over the age of 2 should wear a mask.  However, if your therapist insists that your child wear a mask, then that will be a requirement directly between the two of you. We respect our therapists’ individual comfort levels with safety precautions and ask that you respect them as well.


Protocol Acknowledgment and Health Certification:

Before your child’s first in-person session, we are asking clients to submit an acknowledgment of these protocols and a health certification, which you can find here. Thank you again for your cooperation and for helping all of us stay healthy!