Communicating ideas through written or spoken words (also called expressive language) involves a broad range of mental processes. Memory helps you to remember words and rules (for spelling, punctuation, and grammar) and to apply this information while generating ideas at the same time. Attention processing helps you determine what is appropriate to say and review the quality of your written work.

In addition, a variety of language-specific processes also influence how effectively you communicate. They help you to come up with the right word quickly and use it correctly, to express yourself in complete sentences, and to express information through a coherent series of sentences. When you are speaking, they help you generate smooth and intelligible speech (which is also connected to motor control).

People who have challenges with expressive language may use words incorrectly. They may tend to write in simple declarative statements, and their written ideas may not be clear or well-developed. They may speak hesitantly. They may confuse similar words or have trouble coming up with words to express an idea. They may have trouble coming up with examples to extend and clarify the thoughts they are trying to express.

Strategies for managing challenges with expressive language

  • Develop your vocabulary by doing crossword puzzles or playing games like Password. 
  • Use concept-mapping software (such as Inspiration) to capture and organize your ideas. 
  • Use other formats than writing to present information, when appropriate. Diagrams, bulleted lists, models, or pictures may help you communicate your ideas more effectively than words alone.
  • Record yourself talking through your ideas before trying to capture them on paper.
  • Jot down notes to help you organize your thoughts before you speak. 
  • Take your time when you are speaking. Give yourself permission to pause and think. 
  • Practice speaking aloud with someone you trust.

 

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