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A language disorder is a communication disorder characterized by an impaired ability to understand and/or use words in their proper context, whether verbal or nonverbal.
Language disorders belong to a broad category of disorders called communication disorders that also include speech and hearing disorders. As of 1998, communication disorders were affecting one person out of every 10 in the United States. Language disorders are characterized by one or more of the following features: sound substitutions in words, difficulty in processing sounds into syllables and words, improper use of words, confusion about their meaning, difficulty in expressing ideas and thoughts, inappropriate use of grammatical forms, limited vocabulary development and inability to follow directions, remember questions or numbers and letters in sequence. Language disorders can be classified as either developmental or acquired.
Developmental language disorders occur in children who do not develop functional language skills. Clinically, they are diagnosed as language-delayed or language-disordered. Language-delayed children can have receptive language impairments, expressive language impairments or both.
Receptive language impairments refer to a difficulty understanding language at the level of meaning. The vocabulary range is usually very limited. The purpose of simple grammatical constructions is also not properly understood. For example, that adding an "-s" to a noun makes it plural, or that "'s" is a possessive form, or that a verb with an "-ed" ending means that the action occurred in the past. There is also difficulty in understanding nonverbal signals, such as body language, or difficulty understanding sarcasm and irony, or indirect requests and sentences.
Expressive language impairments refer to the use of defective language patterns, for example using too few words in sentences. Or the sentences may be truncated, or contain words that lack proper endings, or miss the verbs "is" and "are." Limited or ambiguous vocabulary is also a feature. Affected individuals have difficulty using language properly, and as a result, they often seem rude or
Author Info: Monique Laberge PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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