Types of Language Disorders

Vero Beach speech-language pathologist Dr. Julie Freiwald has been treating patients with language disorders for over 35 years.

Language disorders occur in a multitude of ways:

Morphology: The smallest unit of language with meaning (morphemes include, but are not limited to, plurals, past-tense markers, present-progressive tense endings, etc). A disorder in this area includes spoken language without the use of the above morphemes.

Semantics: The vocabulary of language. A disorder in this area is seen at the receptive and/or expressive level.

Syntax: The structure of language. A disorder in this area is seen during oral and written language.

Pragmatics: The use of language in a social context. A disorder in this area is often seen in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (Asperger syndrome), sometimes in individuals with ADHD and/or in disorders impacting the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is often referred to the executive control system of the brain, where thoughts are processed and evaluated before executing the message. Symptoms are often of impulsivity.

Language learning disorders frequently keep the individual from fully comprehending and/or expressing language. This is not a foreign language disability; but it is instead one of difficulty processing language in the areas of listening, reading, comprehending, expressing oneself efficiently, and/or being able to functionally communicate. Written language disabilities can also occur which often, but not always, coexist with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia.

Language-learning disorders may coexist with children with learning disabilities. Organizing one’s thoughts into a cohesive and functional manner can be difficult and time-consuming. A speech-language pathologist is an expert in treating various types of language disorders that may occur developmentally or in individuals who have sustained a brain injury or stroke. Aphasia (loss of language) can follow a stroke.

There are other aspects of language disorders such as anomia, which is where an individual exhibits difficulty in retrieving words; this can occur in children or adults.

In addition, language and functional communication skills may be difficult for individuals within the autistic spectrum, genetic-related disorders such as Down syndrome or those with neurological impairments.

For more information or a consultation, call Vero Beach speech-language pathologist Dr. Julie Freiwald.