Cute little girl at speech therapist office

A language disorder can seriously affect a child’s development. Here’s what you should know about this type of impairment and how you can spot it early.

What are language disorders?

Language disorders affect an individual’s ability to understand others and express ideas clearly. They include:

  • Receptive issues that make it hard to understand language
  • Expressive issues that make it hard to clearly express thoughts
  • Mixed issues that make it hard to both use and understand language

These disorders typically cause a language delay that’s noticeable before the age of four.

Common symptoms

Receptive issues can be hard to spot in young children, although having trouble following simple directions is a common sign. Signs of expressive disorders are easier to identify and include:

  • Limited vocabulary and trouble expanding it
  • Frequent use of placeholder words like “um” and “stuff”
  • Frustration at the inability to convey thoughts clearly
  • Not formulating sentences that make sense
  • Limited variety of sentence structures

These signs usually appear starting at three years old and persist into preschool.

Why acting early matters

A language disorder can negatively impact a child’s development. The inability to understand others or to express ideas often results in social isolation or behavioral problems. In addition, limited vocabulary and understanding of grammar means affected children are likely to struggle in school.

Early detection allows children to develop ways to live with these disorders and sometimes eliminate them completely.

If you think your child has a language disorder, meet with your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can help you find a specialist that will provide a diagnosis and offer a treatment plan.

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