Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder

March is Developmental Disabilities Month. MSNN will be highlighting a different developmental disability each blog post this month in an effort to educate, inspire and connect our families. If you would like to guest blog, please email Kelly Hafer ( Thank you.

453772023From the time they utter their first sound, we as parents, will cling on to whatever form of communication our little ones will give us. For us who have children with speech difficulties, we go through a number of things just to build that bridge of communication with our children. From Sign language to iPad apps. Something. When our children find their own voice it is a momentous occasion. But what happens after that is a bit of a mystery. The command of the English language can be daunting at best. Learning how to emote or find a connection with something can be hard for a person who has just mastered verbalizing. For most people, they see it as not understanding what is said to them or put in front of them to read. It’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they can’t express what they want to say properly. The medical term for this is Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder.

In the world of speech, children that have a language delay are often diagnosed with this. Most times, it goes hand in hand. When our children get to school age you will start to see this more and more. Especially when you are introducing reading and writing. The child has a hard time trying to figure out either the text that is put in front of them or they will have a hard time relating to what is front of them.

For us, our struggle with this is with our daughter. She is a bright little thing, who loves to talk. Will have a conversation with anyone who will listen to her. Her disconnection with conversation is that she is not always going to understand the feedback. It’s not that she doesn’t care, but it’s hard for her to comprehend you side of the conversation. It’s the same thing for reading and writing. That disconnect. Reading the story is the easy part, understanding the meaning behind it, not so much. This comes from that confusion that people who have Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder struggle with. Trying to find that connection with words, verbally or written.

Right now, Little Miss works with a speech pathologist. Slowly we see the connection being formed. It’s not an overnight process. We see the struggle she has to comprehend stuff. We see the struggle she has trying to get her words out. It is almost like she knows what she wants to say, but yet getting it out doesn’t translate. Little Miss will be 9 this summer. She has been working with speech since the age of 3 ½. When we first start, we had a child that didn’t make any form of letter sounds. There was no drive to want to talk and understand words. When I look at her now, I see that drive to want to say what she feels and understands. But we have a long road ahead of us, at least she is moving forward.

If you think you might have a child that has this, here are some things you can look out for:

● omitting words

● saying words in the wrong order

● limited vocabulary compared to classmates

● repeating a question while thinking of an answer

● confusing tenses (ex. using past tense instead of present)

● The inability to understand a person during a conversation

If you are already seeing a speech pathologist for your child, when they get to school age, it might not be a bad thing to get checked out. The more help you get, the better you child will be on trying to understand the world.


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