Language Disorder

What is it?

Language disorder is characterized by difficulties in the acquisition and use of language, including processing vocabulary, sentence structure and conversation. It affects all kinds of linguistic communication, including spoken, written, and gesture, and affects a child’s ability to produce and understand language. Language disorder is different from speech disorder, which involves difficulties producing speech sounds, but not necessarily difficulties in producing language. Language disorder can affect a child’s ability to function at home, at school and in social situations.

Signs and Symptoms

Language disorder is evident in early childhood. Symptoms may not be noticeable until later when complex language usage increases. If a child has difficulty comprehending language, she may have trouble understanding or processing what people say and it may be difficult to follow directions or organize her thoughts. Sentences may be unusually short or simple, or the order of her words might be incorrect. A child with language disorder may omit words from sentences, repeat questions (or parts of questions) and use incorrect tenses. A child with language disorder may be shy with people outside their family.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A child diagnosed with language disorder must have reduced vocabulary, limited sentence structure, and have difficulty communicating information or conversing. The best treatment is speech and language therapy.

What are the risk factors for children?

Language disorders are hereditary, so children with family members who have a history of language impairment are more at risk. Because language disorder can also affect a child’s ability to build relationships with others, he may feel depressed or be socially anxious.