Receptive language difficulties affects the ability to understand spoken and written languge. Children with receptive language difficulties need a lot of help and support from the surroundings in order to show their full ability. Most children with receptive language difficulties also has expressive language difficulties. The child will probably need speech and language treatment. 

Signs of receptive language difficulties:
– The child has a delayed language development and does not start speaking at the expected age.
– The child has difficulty understanding questions and instructions.
– The child does not seem to understand common words and does for example not understand the meaning of “tomorrow” or “yesterday”.
– The child may find it difficult to learn the names of friends or has a hard time learning the days of the week or to count from one to ten.
– The child usually can not recount what happened during the day.
– The child expresses him/herself with incomplete grammar and may have difficulty with various inflections. For example, a child with a general language disorder can say “me paint” which can meen both “I want to paint” or “I painted today”.
– The child omits words in sentences and uses an incorrect word order.
– The child may have pronunciation difficulties.

Note that some of the above mentioned characteristics of a language disorder are also included in normal language development in children of a certain age. See the information under typical language development.

How to think and act
– Use passive correction, that is when you as an adult repeat what the child says, but correctly. For example, if the child says “I play car” you can answer “I understand, you want to play with the car”.
– Avoid telling the child that what he/she says is incorrect. This can cause the child to have a reduced self-esteem. It is important to remember that the child is doing the best he/she can and if the child could speak differently, he/she would have done so.
– Even if the child has a good understanding, the language processing can be slow which can cause the child to have difficulty understanding information that is given too quickly or is too long. Therefore, divide instructions and then ask the child if he/she has understood.
– Choose books based on the child’s language level and not age. Many libraries have librarians who are good at this and can help you select the perfect book for your child.
– Let conversations take time and wait for the child to respond.
– Talk a lot with your child. Conversate about the things you see around you. What colour or shape do they have? Which one is the longest/thinnest/widest? Let the child photograph things during the day and afterwards you can look at the pictures and talk about what happened during the day and what you saw.