Communication disorders

9 Terms to Know If Your Child Struggles With Language Issues

By The Understood Team

48Found this helpful
48Found this helpful

If your child has language issues, you’ll want to know some of the key terms used by professionals. Learning these terms can make future visits with your child’s doctor, speech therapist or teacher a little easier.

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Dyslexia doesn’t only affect reading, writing and spelling. It can cause trouble with speech, too. Children with dyslexia have difficulty processing verbal information. This can make it hard to keep up during conversation and understand what people are saying. Jokes and abstract ideas can be especially tough to grasp.

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Executive functioning skills

Executive function can be thought of as the CEO of the brain. Executive functioning skills are the mental processes we use every day to plan, organize, pay attention and remember details. Weakness in certain executive functioning skills may find it difficult for someone to communicate.

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Expressive language disorder

Expressive language issues can make it difficult for children to put thoughts into words. They may be able to understand speech. But their ability to express themselves is limited compared to their peers.

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Receptive language issues

Receptive language issues can make it hard to listen to or understand what people say. Kids with this disorder usually hear well. But they have trouble processing and making sense of the sounds they hear.

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Mixed receptive-expressive language issues

Having mixed receptive-expressive language issues makes it difficult to understand and express language. Kids with this condition may speak with a limited vocabulary and use simple sentences. They also struggle to understand what people say.

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Procedural memory

Procedural memory is the memory we use to perform tasks that seem automatic or unconscious. Examples of these tasks include riding a bicycle, tying shoelaces and reading. Children with language issues may have trouble developing procedural memories that involve communication.

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Social communication disorder

Social communication disorder (SCD) makes it hard to converse in socially appropriate ways. Kids with SCD have a hard time understanding the rules of spoken language that help people communicate with others. This condition has also been called pragmatic language disorder or pragmatic-semantic disorder.

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Speech-language pathologist

Speech-language pathologists (also called speech therapists) are trained in communication development and disorders. These licensed professionals assess speech, language and other skills to identify specific communication problems and provide helpful treatment.

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Specific language impairment

Specific language impairment (SLI) is the general term used for disorders that hinder children’s ability to develop language skills. It’s sometimes called developmental language disorder or developmental dysphasia.

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About the Author

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The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Ellen Kolso

Ellen Koslo, Au.D., is an audiologist and associate professor of otolaryngology at Columbia University Medical Center.

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