Dyslexia and Language Disorders (Receptive & Expressive)

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Editorial Team


Language-based disorders may often vary from one another on the basis of a few signs and symptoms. Dyslexia and Receptive and expressive language disorders are a few of language-linked inabilities. As the name hints, Receptive disorder is linked with comprehension complications, and expressive difficulties are about speaking or writing language. These conditions share a few common postulates with Dyslexia. 

Due to these common signs, the need to clarify and distinguish each of these difficulties turns crucial. The insights in this post focus on defining each of these conditions. And, with that idea, you can easily understand what factors make these disorders similar or diverse. Traverse through this post to make quick fill-ups to your idea on these conditions. 

Language disorders- Not just confined to dyslexia?

Linguistic disabilities can be found in children of varying ages. These are language-related challenges that affect how a child understands a word. There are multiple difficulties and conditions  that can come under the umbrella of language disorders:

  1. Language disability takes into the frame the many aspects of the brain which shows that there is not just one particular area of concern but actually can be of multiple types and signs. For example, there is the CAS which stands for childhood asphyxia speech which affects the way a child says the word with odd pauses. The disorder symptoms come from the brain system that connects to the muscles in speaking.
  2. Another condition is Dysarthria, where the speech of the child is slurry, and slow and it is seen the child struggles to breathe when they are speaking. 
  3. The other type that is found is orofacial myofunctional in which the movement patterns of the mouth and face are not in sync. The orofacial disorder has an effect on the muscles of the face and mouth while eating, talking, and breathing. 
  4. Selective mutism is where the children often don’t like to talk to others. These individuals especially feel uncomfortable communicating in social gatherings.
  5. Receptive Language difficulty can be defined as when the brain is not able to process the information it receives. Here too, Children are known to not be able to handle social gatherings and conversations.
  6.  Expressive language difficulty is the condition where the child has lower levels of vocabulary abilities. Thereby, they may face problems in crafting and saying complex sentences, they may also face challenges in remembering words. While it is a language-based difficulty just like receptive language, the ability to communicate is the area to enhance here.  
  7. Dyslexia is a learning disability where the student has trouble connecting to letters and their sounds. This may also lead to some receptive and expressive difficulties. 

Research by Maggie Snowling and Bishop[1] supports that there are multiple types of language disorders. In this report, they clearly made out that Specific language Disorders and Developmental Dyslexia may be different conditions with some similar underlying causes. These insights can strengthen the divergence between different learning disabilities.

With this idea let us mark what receptive and Expressive language disorders are and if they are different from Dyslexia.

What is a receptive language disorder?

Receptive language disorder is characterized by difficulties in understanding what is being communicated to the individual. They can have challenges comprehending both written and spoken language. This implies that children with such disabilities cannot appropriately grasp text threading to books and listening to lessons.

 It is advised to notice receptive language disorder when the child is at an early age. It becomes a tough task among people who have the disorder due to their distinct language functioning- this may also make them socially awkward. Receptive Language Disorder often doesn’t have the best-organized thoughts in the brain which makes it tough for the child to speak properly and write properly later.

With symptoms related to cognition and language, these individuals may have a short attention span[2]. Not only with letters, but they also often have trouble regarding other areas of language like words, vocabulary, grammar usage, and usage of idioms.

What is expressive language disorder?

It is a compromise that impacts how a child uses language. This may not mean that the intelligence of the child is substandard. These people with expressing issues may face challenges in crafting lines with proper vocabulary. 

Learners with this difficulty often have trouble sharing thoughts and ideas as they are not able to express themselves. This leads to them using shorter sentences- affecting how they express themselves.

Here are some eminent signs of expressive language disorder:

  1. The child is not able to determine where the adjectives and adverbs have to be used. Grammar is also one of the biggest concerns for children with the disorder.
  2.  It affects the way they arrange a sentence in their head which is why they are not able to put them in order. 
  3. It is difficult to learn and apply new words.
  4. The children also have difficulty answering, reasoning, and problem-solving.

Dyslexia, expressive language disorder, and receptive language disorder- Marking a few important insights 

Dyslexia may be differentiated from Expressive language disorder and receptive language disorder based on a few traits. Here are a few points to ponder to mark those  similarities and differences:

  • Receptive language disorder is more about the shortcomings of a child related to the grasping of language, while expressive language disorder is more about the ability to communicate. However, Dyslexia is related to the processing of language in its absolute sense and is mostly related to phonological deficits. 
  • Expression is the next step of reception. Accordingly, those who have expressive difficulties mostly have receptive difficulties too. Dyslexics can have signs of receptive disorder
  • Dyslexia, Receptive and Expressive language disabilities can have difficulties remembering words of a language.
  • Receptive disabled often don’t like reading books, whereas the expressive disabled don’t prefer speaking in public. Dyslexics may have both attributes along with social issues.
  • Receptive language disability can be due to genetic factors and inadequate exposure to learning sessions. Expressive deficits can be because of genetic factors and malnutrition. Dyslexia can have multiple reasons including genetics. 

Before we windup…

To conclude, the difference yet the similarity between Dyslexia and other language developmental compromises is what keeps them under the same umbrella. They can only be divided on the basis of phonological skill deficits and poor reading comprehension skills.

Based on the extent of the impact, each of these learning disabilities must be valued and evaluated for assistance like IEP, 504, or FAPE.  Learning what is in common and what signs differ in these disorders can make you clear about the condition. Check the insights in the above lines to ensure proper knowledge about three shortcomings.


  1. Bishop, D. V., & Snowling, M. J. (2004). Developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment: Same or different?. Psychological bulletin, 130(6), 858. 
  2. Gillam, R. B., Montgomery, J. W., & Gillam, S. L. (2009). Attention and memory in child language disorders. Handbook of child language disorders, 201-215.

Leave a Comment