Preschool Language Disorders

What is Language? 

Language refers to a socially agreed upon set of rules that govern communication. These rules include what words themselves mean, how to change endings to make new words, and how to put words together. It is different from speech, which is the verbal means of communicating. 


Some children may have trouble understanding, which is referred to as receptive language. They may have difficulty with: 

  • Understanding gestures 
    Following directions 
  • Answering questions 
    Identifying objects and pictures 
    Taking turns while talking 

Other children may have trouble talking, also known as expressive language. They may need help with: 

  • Naming objects 
    Asking questions 
  • Putting words together into sentences 
  • Using correct pronouns, such as “he” and “she” 
  • Knowing how to start conversations and keep them going 

Many children may have trouble with both understanding and talking

Early reading and writing skills may also be difficult, such as: 

  • Learning letters and numbers 
    Holding a book right side up 
    Turning pages in a book 
    Telling stories with a beginning, middle, and ending 


A comprehensive evaluation may assess the following areas: 

  • Semantic skills 
  • Expressive language (what the child says) 
  • Receptive language (what the child understands) 
  • Knowledge of basic concepts 
  • Narrative skills 
  • Play skills 
  • Spontaneous language sample 

Following this, a treatment program is devised that is best suited to meet the child’s individual needs. 


Treatment is conducted using printed materials, games, and books during individual language therapy sessions. Goals may include: 

  • Vocabulary expansion 
  • Appropriate pronoun use 
  • Improved ability to sequence words in sentences 
  • Improved comprehension 
  • Improved ability to follow directions and answer questions