Understanding Language Disorders

For the parents of young children who have language disorders, the initial realization that there is something wrong can be a jarring experience. It is important to note that there is a difference between a language disorder and a speech disorder.

A speech disorder involves the means of communication while a language disorder is focused on the use of words and phrases. This means that children with language disorders may not have the impediments to speak as with speech disorders, but instead their issues are about the use of the words itself in communicating their thoughts and expressions.

In addition, there is a difference between a delay in developing language skills and an impairment or disability. A delay is something that can be outgrown while the latter two must be treated to overcome the disorder.

Receptive & Expressive Disorders

Understanding which type of language disorder is important so that the proper treatment can be delivered.

A receptive language disorder is when the child has difficulty comprehending the meaning of words both spoken and written. Signs of this disorder tend to appear before the age of 4.

An expressive language disorder is when the child has trouble communicating their thoughts to others. While they may be able to pronounce words perfectly, they have difficulty using the right words to express their thoughts or feelings.

What Causes the Disorders?

There are several causes to each type of language disorder, but the most common ones are the following;
– Brain Injury or Retardation
– Delay in Development
– Down Syndrome
– Loss of Hearing
– Neurological

It must be noted that many children with language disorders have no recognizable cause. In this case, it is identifying which type of disorder they have and how to treat it properly.


In the initial stages, it may be difficult to identify a language disorder because they are often mistaken for behavioral issues. A child that cannot understand the request of a parent or teacher will tend to lash out in frustration. So, it takes continual observation and some insight provided by a trained professional to identify a language disorder. Some of the symptoms include the following;
– Has trouble following or understanding commands or directions
– Is difficult to understand their intent when speaking
– Speaks in very short sentences with a staccato cadence
– Creates sentences with odd or misplaced words
– Has a limited vocabulary
– Does not use the proper pronouns, tense, or plurals with words


Proper treatment requires having certified speech pathologists administering proven techniques to correct language issues. The exact treatment will depend on the type and severity of the language disorder of the child. In addition, parents and family members will need to help reinforce the treatment at home so that the child understands and uses the correct words and phrases when they speak.

In addition, there may be additional counseling, cognitive behavior, or psychotherapy treatments needed to addressing the issues that the child is facing along with the language disorder. You will need to find the right speech-language pathologist so your child gets the proper treatment.

Consult with an Expert Speech or Occupational Therapist