Language Disorder: Definition, Types, Causes, Symptoms and More

The language disorder can make it difficult for children to understand what people say to them and express their thoughts and feelings through speech; it can also affect how children learn and socialize. Formerly known as receptive-expressive language disorder, it is common in young children.

According to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, it occurs in 10 to 15 percent of those under the age of 3. By age 4, language ability is generally more stable and can be more accurately measured to determine whether or not there is a deficit.

What is a language disorder?

It impedes someone from finding the correct words and forming clear sentences when speaking; it can make it challenging to understand what another person is saying. A child may have difficulty understanding what others are saying, may have difficulty expressing thoughts in words, or both.

You may notice that a child’s vocabulary is fundamental, and their sentences are short, non-grammatical, and incomplete; while their peers talk and tell jokes, your child may have trouble following the conversation and lose their marks; they may speak in sentences of two words and having trouble answering even simple questions.

It is important to note that a language disorder is not the same as a hearing problem or a speech disorder. Children with language disorders generally do not have trouble hearing or pronouncing words; their challenge is to master and apply the terms. Rules of language, such as grammar. They are not simply “late talkers.” Their communication problems will continue and can lead to emotional and academic issues.

Language Disorder

Types of language disorder

Receptive language disorders

They can be acquired or developmental (the latter more common) when development and difficulties in spoken language tend to occur before the age of three. Expressive language disorders usually accompany these disorders.

However, the unusual symptoms and signs of a receptive language disorder include difficulty understanding the meanings of words and sentences, difficulty putting words in the correct order, and inability to follow verbal instruction.

Treatment options include speech therapy, special education classes for children at school, and a psychologist if there are accompanying behavior problems. Read more information about receptive language disorders. (Required item)

Expressive language disorders

Unlike those with a speech disorder, the problem with expressive language disorders concerns not only the voice and articulation but also the mental formation of language.

Expressive language disorders can occur during a child’s development, or they can be acquired; this acquisition generally follows normal neurological development and is due to various causes, such as head trauma or radiation.

Characteristics vary, such as limited vocabulary, inability to produce complex grammar, and more lexical errors.

If it is a developmental disorder, the child will have difficulty acquiring new words and grammatical structures, will often begin to speak, and will progress at a slower pace linguistically. Due to the very nature of these disorders, the child may have difficulties academically and socialize with peers.

Experts who commonly treat such disorders include speech pathologists and audiologists. Complete content on expressive language disorders. (Required item)

Symptoms of language disorder

Problems with oral communication are the most common sign of language disorders; it is unclear if there are signs in childhood that could indicate an increased risk.

Symptoms related to expression.

Language disorder is often noticed in infancy first.

  • Reduced vocabulary compared to other children of the same age.
  • Limited ability to form sentences.
  • Inability to use words and connect sentences to explain or describe something.
  • Reduced ability to have a conversation.
  • Leave comments out of a sentence.
  • Say words in the wrong order.
  • Repeat a question while thinking of an answer.
  • Confusing tenses (for example, using the past tense instead of the present)

Some of these symptoms are part of everyday language development. However, your child may have a language disorder if several problems persist and do not improve.

Symptoms related to understanding others.

An equally important aspect of this disorder is having difficulty understanding others when they speak; this can translate into the problem of following directions at home and school.

According to American Family Physician, there may be a problem if your child is 18 months old and does not follow one-step directions. If by 30 months, your child does not answer the questions verbally or with a nod or gesture, then it may be a sign of a language disorder.

Causes of language disorders

There are many different causes, so it is impossible to single out just one; it is possible to differentiate between the reasons depending on the chain of events leading to the language problem, some of which are organic, which refers to any damage to the organs They play a fundamental role in language. We can decompose the organic causes into the following groups:

  • Hereditary causes:  When it is inherited from one or both parents.
  • Congenital causes:  When prescription drugs or complications cause it during pregnancy.
  • Perinatal causes:  They originate during birth.
  • Postnatal causes:  appear after pregnancy, such as disorders due to premature birth.

In addition to organic causes, there are also functional causes of language disorders, which are due to the pathological function of the used organs. The endocrine causes mainly affect the psychomotor development of the child. Environmental causes are also a significant factor influencing language, as a child’s environment can affect their language skills. Finally, psychosomatic causes are known to play an essential role in developing some language disorders.

Our thoughts are powerful and can even lead us to create speech disorders. Similarly, speech disorders can also affect the way we think, both of which can make it challenging to develop good communication skills.

How to treat language disorder?

The disorder is often treated through the collective effort of parents, teachers, speech pathologists, and other healthcare professionals.

Medical exam

The first course of action is to visit your doctor for a complete physical exam; this will help rule out or diagnose other conditions, such as a hearing problem or other sensory disabilities.

Language therapy

The standard treatment for language disorder is speech and language therapy. Treatment will depend on your child’s age and the cause and extent of the disease. For example, your child can participate in one-on-one treatment sessions with a therapist or attend group sessions; he will diagnose and treat your child according to his deficits. 

Early intervention often plays a vital role in a successful outcome. Learn more about speech therapy. (Required item)

Home care options

Working with your child at home can help. Here are some tips:

  • Speak slowly and concisely when asking your child, a question.
  • Wait patiently while your child forms an answer.
  • Keep the atmosphere relaxed to reduce anxiety.
  • Ask your child to put his instructions in his own words after giving an explanation or command.
  • Frequent contact with teachers is also essential. Your child may be reserved in class and may not want to participate in activities that involve talking and sharing; ask the teacher about class activities in advance to help prepare your child for upcoming discussions.

psychological therapy

Having difficulty understanding and communicating with others can be frustrating and trigger acting out episodes. Counseling may be necessary to address emotional or behavioral problems. Click on psychological therapy for more information.  (Required item)

How to prevent a language disorder?

Prevention is difficult, especially since the exact cause of the disorder is largely unknown. However, it is possible to reduce the impact of the disease by working closely with a speech and language pathologist or therapist, as they can help cope with the emotional and mental health challenges that the disorder can cause.

Frequent questions

  • Will a child with a language disorder have both expressive and receptive problems?

Language disorders do not necessarily have to include expressive and receptive issues. For example, a student may have explicit language impairments but not show any sensory language problems.

  • Are our speech and language disorders the same thing?

No, because language disorders cause deficiencies in the ability to receive, send, process, and understand language, speech disorders create problems with the articulation and fluency of speech sounds.

  • Are children with language disorders not bright?

Language disorders affect people throughout life if they do not take care of you, but many students with this problem are intelligent and creative.

  • Can children overcome language disorders?

Some children are slower to develop language skills, but for others, language problems are not something that will fade over time. The only way to determine if your child needs language intervention is to have them tested for a disorder.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.