We’re here for you. Find our latest COVID-19 resources that can help at home, at school, and at work.

Skip to content

Language Disorders: What You Need to Know

By The Understood Team

At a Glance

  • Language disorders make it hard to use and understand spoken language.

  • They’re not problems with speech or hearing.

  • They usually start in childhood and last into adulthood.

If you don’t know the term language disorder, you might think it means trouble with speech. But these challenges don’t have to do with speaking clearly or producing sounds. They’re also not related to intelligence. They’re about using and understanding spoken language.

Learn more about common language disorders.

What are language disorders?

Language disorders are a type of communication disorder. (So is social communication disorder.) They impact how people use and process language.

There are three main types of language disorder:

  1. Expressive language disorder: People have trouble getting their message across when they talk. They often struggle to put words together into sentences that make sense.

  2. Receptive language disorder: People struggle to get the meaning of what others are saying. Because of this, they often respond in ways that don’t make sense.

  3. Mixed receptive-expressive language issues: Some people struggle with both using and understanding language.

Language disorders are often developmental. They start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. But they can also be caused by a brain injury or illness.

Language disorders aren’t a matter of intelligence, however. People who have them are as smart as other people. They just struggle with certain skills.

The signs of expressive language problems can show up very early. Kids are often late to talk and use very few words once they start. Signs of receptive language problems appear a little later. Kids may have trouble following directions, too. When other people talk, they may not respond—or they may respond in ways that are off-topic.

How are language disorders diagnosed?

The first thing to do is rule out hearing issues that could have an impact on language. But the only way to diagnose language disorders is through an evaluation. The specialists who do these evaluations are called speech-language pathologists.

Schools provide evaluations for free. (Very young kids can get free evaluations through their state’s early intervention system.) Adults need to do them privately.

A diagnosis is the first step toward getting help. Adults may be able to get support at work. And kids may get free speech-language therapy at school. The earlier treatment begins, the better.

Key Takeaways

  • Language disorders are a type of communication disorder.

  • There are three types: expressive, receptive, and mixed expressive-receptive.

  • To get diagnosed with a language disorder, you have to have an evaluation.

Share

Share Language Disorders: What You Need to Know

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom

Share Language Disorders: What You Need to Know

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom