Language disorders or language impairments are disorders that involve the processing of linguistic information. Problems that may be experienced can involve grammar (syntax and/or morphology), semantics (meaning), or other aspects of language. These problems may be receptive (involving impaired language comprehension), expressive (involving language production), or a combination of both. Examples include specific language impairment, better defined as developmental language disorder, or DLD, and aphasia, among others. Language disorders can affect both spoken and written language, and can also affect sign language; typically, all forms of language will be impaired.
Preliminary research on potential risk factors have suggested biological components, such as low birth weight, prematurity, general birth complications, and male gender, as well as family history and low parental education can increase the chance of developing language disorders.
For children with phonological and expressive language difficulties, there is evidence supporting speech and language therapy. However, the same therapy is shown to be much less effective for receptive language difficulties. These results are consistent with the poorer prognosis for receptive language impairments that are generally accompanied with problems in reading comprehension.
Note that these are distinct from speech disorders, which involve difficulty with the act of speech production, but not with language.
Language disorders tend to manifest in two different ways: receptive language disorders (where one cannot properly comprehend language) and expressive language disorders (where one cannot properly communicate their intended message).
Receptive language disorders
Receptive language disorders can be acquired or developmental (most often the latter). When developmental, difficulties in spoken language tend to occur before three years of age. Usually such disorders are accompanied by expressive language disorders.
However, unique symptoms and signs of a receptive language disorder include: struggling to understand meanings of words and sentences, struggling to put words in proper order, and inability to follow verbal instruction.
Treatment options include: language therapy, special education classes for children at school, and a psychologist if accompanying behavioral problems are present.
Expressive language disorders
Unlike those with a speech disorder, the problem with expressive language disorders pertains not only to the voice and articulation, but to the mental formation of language, itself.
Expressive language disorders can occur during a child's development or they can be acquired. This acquisition usually follows a normal neurological development and is brought about by a number of causes such as head trauma or irradiation.
Features of an expressive language disorder vary, but have certain features in common such as: limited vocabulary, inability to produce complex grammar, and more lexical errors.
If it is a developmental disorder, the child will have difficulty acquiring new words and grammatical structures. The child will often begin speaking later than his/her peers and progress at a slower rate linguistically. Due to the very nature of these disorders, the child may struggle with academics and socializing with peers.
Experts that commonly treat such disorders include speech pathologists and audiologists.
Psychopathology of language
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