Language Disorder

Your son is 2 years old and still isn't talking. He says a few words, but compared with his peers you think he's way behind. His sister could talk in long sentences at the same age. You are thinking whether to seek professional advice or adopt a “wait and watch” approach; hoping that he would soon catch up.

This scenario is common among parents of children who are slow to speak. They may hesitate to seek advice. They often feel that the child will soon “outgrow.” It is important to note that not all children with delayed language development may develop age appropriate skills and “catch up” with their age counterparts.

Language disorders may be receptive or expressive or both.


Language disorder can be developmental or acquired. It may occur in children with developmental disorders, such as Autism, Hearing Impairment, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s syndrome and many others. Acquired language disorder occurs after a period of normal development; it can be the result of brain injury, medical complications or neurological insult. Adults may present with Aphasia post-stroke or head injury.

Typically developing children may also present with language delays or lag. Language delays may also result secondary to complications such as premature birth, cognitive disabilities, neurological problems, cleft palates or oral motor difficulties.


Receptive language disorder is when an individual has difficulties with understanding and processing language. An individual with a receptive language disorder may have difficulty with:

  • Identifying objects and pictures.
  • Following directions or complex instructions.
  • Understanding what other people have said.
  • Organizing their thoughts.
  • Answering questions.
Expressive language disorder refers to difficulty in using language to express their thoughts or needs. An individual with expressive language disorder may present with difficulty in:

  • Naming Objects.
  • Putting words together into sentences.
  • Asking questions.
  • Limited vocabulary that is below the level of same age peers.
  • Deficient syntactic skills (grammar) or inappropriate use of Person, Gender and Tense (PNG) markers.
  • Difficulty in social situations.

Evaluation and Treatment

Language Therapy is based upon ongoing assessment of individual’s communication skills. Ms. Kothari does an in-depth assessment of individual’s phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic language skills. The assessment may include clinical observations and standardized language tests. Treatment varies, depending on the type and cause of the language disorder. Specialized modalities such as Communication devices and approaches such as PROMPT may be used to facilitate individual’s receptive and expressive language skills. However, in all language disorders and delays, early intervention is key to improvement.