Language Disorders

What is a language disorder?

A language disorder is when children have difficulty expressing their thoughts or understanding language that is presented to them.


What are some of the signs or symptoms?

Some children may have difficulty with expressive language skills.  This means children have difficulty expressing their ideas verbally or in writing.  For example, children may:

  • Have difficulty putting words together to formulate sentences.
  • Leave out words or say words in the wrong order.
  • Have problems with word retrieval or finding the right words when speaking.
  • Have difficulty telling a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.       
  • Have a reduced ability to have a conversation.
  • Have vocabulary below their expected grade level.

Some children may have difficulty with receptive language skills.  This means children have difficulty understanding and processing language that is presented to them.  For example, children may have difficulty:

  • Understanding what other people are saying.
  • Understanding and comprehending what they read.
  • Understanding basic concepts, questions, and directions.
  • Understanding higher level reasoning skills (e.g., figurative language, inferences).  

Many children have problems with both expressive and receptive language skills.


What are the causes?

The cause of a language disorder is often unknown.  Some causes may be due to:

  • Family history of language disorders
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth-weight
  • Failure to thrive
  • Poor nutrition
  • Brian damage due to a stroke, seizure, or head injury
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Neurological disorders
  • Syndromes (e.g., Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome)
  • Autism


How are language skills evaluated? 

A language evaluation allows us to obtain a complete picture of your child’s current language functioning and to develop goals to target in therapy.  The evaluation may entail:

  • Standardized testing instruments to compare your child’s current language functioning to other children the same age. 
  • Informal testing, which may include informal observations, checklists, parent interviews, etc. 


How are language skills treated?

The goal of language therapy is to improve your child’s communication skills.  The Center believes strongly in using curriculum based therapy.  This means that materials for treatment are often taken from or are directly related to content from the classroom (e.g., novels or textbooks are used for reading activities, assigned papers are used for writing activities, etc.).  The child is able to apply newly learned language strategies to classroom activities and assignments, which makes therapy more meaningful, motivating, and assists in generalizing of skills to different environments.  Below is a list of some of the language areas that we treat:

  • Word Retrieval
  • Vocabulary Development
  • Oral and Written Expression
  • Auditory Processing
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Social Skills
  • Parent Education
  • Assistance creating, supporting, and/or interpreting IEPs


Where can I learn more?

For more information about language development and language disorders, please go to: