About 5% of the children in the United States are diagnosed with language processing disorder every year. Yet, a lot of cases can remain undiagnosed. A language processing disorder is a neurological problem where the affected person finds it difficult to communicate through a spoken language. What causes a language processing disorder?
It can be either due to developmental disorders in prenatal life or a traumatic event affecting the brain. The developmental disturbance shows its effect right from the child’s birth, which is why most children get involved. In contrast, the reason for adults suffering from LPD might mostly be a traumatic event or a brain injury in the past.
Types Of Language Processing Disorders
Not all children suffering from language disorders are the same. The disorder has two different types of manifestations; expressive disorder and receptive disorder.
1. Expressive Language Disorders
A child suffering from expressive language processing disorder LPD has trouble expressing his thoughts and emotions. The child’s intellectual ability may be average or above average, but he cannot convey his ideas verbally.
Recognizing Someone Suffering From Expressive Language Disorders
Check for these signs in your child or partner:
- The child uses the limited vocabulary for their age.
- They use a lot of vague filler words such as “um,” “uh,” “thing,” “like” in between a sentence instead of using specific terms.
- They tend to repeat the sentences.
- They get confused with the verb tenses, and sometimes the sentences don’t even make sense.
- They have trouble learning new words when compared to other children.
- They often get agitated by their inability to express themselves through a language.
- Delayed speech.
- Trouble rhyming at an early age( 3-4 Years)
2. Receptive Language Disorders
A child with receptive language processing difficulty has trouble understanding spoken language. Here, the child’s ability to hear might be normal, but his poor language processing skills hinder him from communicating effectively.
Recognizing Someone Suffering From Receptive Language Disorders
Common symptoms of receptive language disorders are:
- The child appears to be dissociated from other children.
- They often have trouble understanding jokes.
- They have difficulty understanding verbal instructions and thus act inappropriately.
- They are unable to follow directions.
- They seem disinterested in joining a conversation or participating in social events.
Other Learning Disabilities That Are Misdiagnosed As LPD
1. Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD)
As the children have language processing difficulties, they lose focus on the class due to exhaustion. They seem as if they are not interested in the class and are often considered as having ADD. We can treat Attention deficit disorder with drugs but not the symptoms of language processing disorder.
2. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Receptive language disorder is often confused with an Auditory processing disorder, also a common processing disorder. However, one must understand the difference between language processing disorder LPD and auditory processing disorder symptoms APD.
A child with APD finds it challenging to interpret what they hear. It is different from deafness because they have normal hearing, but noisy environments or background noise decrease their listening accuracy. They even may have trouble hearing the differences between different sounds. An audiologist assesses APD whereas, a speech-language specialist evaluates language processing disorder symptoms.
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves trouble reading comprehension, spelling, and sometimes even writing. The kids with this disability are usually smart but cannot correlate the letters they see to the sounds they make, making it difficult for them to read or spell. There is no proper treatment for dyslexia. Recognizing it early is the only way to cure it, but speech therapy can treat language processing disorder.
Problems Faced by People Suffering From Language Processing Disorders
Have you ever got deviated and lost track of what the other person is speaking or imagined something in your mind and suddenly forgot the right word for it? Most of them often experience this kind of situation, and it feels awkward. Imagine a child who goes through this problem daily.
Many children with language processing difficulties are subjected to various forms of harassment and are bullied by peers in schools and colleges. This leaves a significant negative impact on the child’s mental health. In addition to these issues, having difficulty understanding language makes it hard for the child to succeed academically.
How to Diagnose LPD
The effective treatment strategy is based on early recognition of the language processing disorder symptoms and their intervention. If your child’s (or yours) language skills or communication skills are bothering you, try and consult with a speech therapist as early as possible. If you are a resident in the United States, you can also get a free evaluation through the state’s early intervention program.
The speech therapist conducts various assessments to confirm whether your child has any language processing deficits. It is essential to ensure that the child is tested in the language that he is most comfortable with. To do so, most speech therapists would discuss the child’s academic and social skills with the caregivers and rule out the possibility of hearing impairment in the first step.
Later they begin testing the child’s language processing skills by asking them to sort items based on similarities or differences or form associations between them. As language processing disorders affect various areas of expressive and receptive communication, it is essential to know that every child has a unique area of concern. A few commonly affected areas of communication include:
- phonological awareness: the ability to identify individual sounds within the words
- short term memory
- difficulty in pronunciation (especially of long words with many syllables)
- grammar and vocabulary
- receptive language skills like the ability to understand instructions
- expressive vocabulary and labeling accuracy
Based on the area involved, the private specialist determines the severity of the disorder using standardized tests and comes up with a timely diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis, one can receive appropriate treatment. Let get to know various treatment options that are available for treating LPD.
Treatment Options for Language Processing Disorders
Suppose the language disorder is detected before your child attends the school (preschoolers). In that case, the specialists plan a detailed individualized family service plan on what services the child should receive and what the specialists expect the prognosis to look like.
If your child has already started to go to school by the time of diagnosis, then you can look for support from the private school or public school system. They can formally request an in-depth evaluation from a speech-language therapist.
If you are an adult with a language disorder, it is still necessary to quickly seek help from a private specialist. The private speech therapist has more flexible scheduling and devises different methods to determine an effective treatment strategy.
a. Speech-Language Therapy(SLT)
Speech-language therapy is the first and best option for people suffering from LPD. This therapy focuses mainly on improving basic cognitive skills such as attention, listening comprehension, and short-term memory and then gradually works its way to language processing. Numerous studies have proven that speech therapy has significant effects on language development for young children. But for older children or adults, the language disorder has already negatively affected their ability to communicate appropriately. In these cases, psychotherapy is recommended as well.
Psychotherapy benefits children with language processing difficulty by improving their speaking and listening skills as well. It also helps one to speak about their past and helps to overcome their emotions. Psychotherapy is crucial to enhance social skills, especially in adults suffering from trauma.
Role of Parents and Caregivers
Children with language processing disorder may need some special education methods to improve their condition. So, parents need to acknowledge their situation and offer support accordingly. Here are a few things you can do as a parent or a caregiver.
Prepare pictures and visual aids to communicate by using them whenever they have difficulty finding words. They can also be implemented when learning new words or vocabulary. This method boosts their learning style.
Be Patient and Caring.
Due to their intellectual disabilities, they often seem frustrated and lonely. It means a lot to them if you can understand their feelings and communicate with them accordingly. Always be slow and patient while talking to your child and using easy-to-understand and straightforward vocabulary.
Be committed to your child’s needs and always look for measures to help them improve their language disorder. Make sure that the school or the environment your child is in supports their language processing needs.
For people with language disorders, difficulty understanding spoken language or expressing themselves verbally can be a constant reality. We must identify the disorder at an early stage for a better prognosis. Symptoms of language processing disorder can be diagnosed and treated by a speech-language therapist.
However, the role played by the parents in supporting their child’s language disorder is equally important. Parents should also be able to communicate effectively on their child’s behalf. The prognosis of treatment is not solely dependent on a single person but on the collective effort of parents, health care providers, school management, and the individual affected with the disorder.
With early intervention and appropriate treatment, we can cure language processing disorder completely.
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