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Language Disorder

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

What is Language Disorder?

chat bubblesLanguage Disorder is a Communication Disorder. Speech problems are often caused by problems with the body's nervous system. The problems between the brain and the nervous system affect the use of language, speech or communication.

Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • ongoing trouble in learning or using language including speaking, writing or sign language. The person has trouble understanding what others say or in communicating with them. This includes:
    • knowing words and how to use them - the child doesn't start first talking when expected or doesn't know as many words as they should for their age.
    • trouble putting words together into sentences that follow rules - the child's sentences are shorter and have grammar issues, such as the wrong tense of a verb. For example, "I goed to the store" instead of "I went to the store.")
    • problems in using words and sentences to say something or talk with someone else. Examples include trouble remembering words or numbers and then using "um" or "uh while talking to cover it up. The child might have trouble telling a story that makes sense because they leave out, mix up or use the wrong words.
    • the child may have problems with talking to others, understanding what others are telling them, or both.
  • the person's language skills are a lot lower than what would be expected for their age and cause problems at school or in talking with others.
  • the symptoms first showed up when the child was 2 to 4 years-old.
  • the problems aren't because of hearing problems, intellectual disabilities, or other medical or brain conditions.

How common is Language Disorder?

Up to 1 out of every 20 children has symptoms of a language disorder. There are a lot of differences in how children learn new words and begin to talk during the early years. Delays do not mean that a child who is having problems will automatically have Language Disorder.

If a child isn't talking as well as would be expected by 4 years old, then they might be diagnosed with Learning Disorder. These problems will usually continue when they are an adult, but the specific troubles that they have will often change during their life.

What are the risk factors for Language Disorder?

Those with a family member that have the disorder are much more likely to have it as well.

Children that have problems with the understanding what others are saying will probably have more trouble than kids that understand but just can't talk to others as well. Having trouble understanding others makes kids not want to work on getting better at talking and they often have trouble with understanding what they read.

What other disorders or conditions often occur with Language Disorder?

Those with language disorder are much more likely to have another condition where symptoms affect the body's nervous system. These most often include specific learning disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, developmental coordination disorder, and social (pragmatic) communication disorder.

How is Language Disorder treated?

If a parent is worried about how a child's talks, they should start with the child's doctor first. The doctor may suggest that the family talk to a person who is trained to test and treat people with speech or language disorders (a speech-language pathologist). That person will talk about the child's skills and will use special tests. A hearing test is often done because hearing problems can affect learning how to talk.

After the tests are done, they may suggest the parents do things at home to help the child practice and improve in talking and writing, or that the child do individual or group therapy with a counselor to work on their skills.

They may suggest more tests and a check-up by a person trained to identify and measure hearing loss (an audiologist), or a psychologist who is an expert in how children grow and develop.

Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, may also be used to help the child deal with their feelings about the problems that they may be having because of their trouble talking with or understanding other people.

 




Contact Information

Sarah Dinklage, LICSW
Executive Director

sdinklage@risas.org

Charles Cudworth, MA
Director, SAS

ccudworth@risas.org

Leigh Reposa, MSW, LICSW
Program Manager
lreposa@risas.org

Colleen Judge, LMHC                  Manager, SAS
cjudge@risas.org 

Kathleen Sullivan
Manager, Community Prevention
ksullivan@risas.org


300 Centerville Rd.
Suite 301 South 
Warwick, RI 02886
401-732-8680


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