The area of language includes how an individual understands spoken speech, how an individual puts words together for speech, and literacy. A child may have difficulty understanding what is being said to them. For example, they may have difficulty following directions or answering yes/no questions because they do not understand what was said. Speech therapy can work to improve these receptive language skills. On the other hand, a child may understand what was said to them but have difficulty forming phrases to respond. Some children have difficulty putting together sentences with noun, verbs, and adjectives. Vocabulary and sentence structure are also included in these expressive language skills. Children with language disorders sometimes also have difficulty with literacy, reading, and writing.

Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following:
  • What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
  • How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
  • How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
  • What word combinations are best in what situations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)

When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder.

What to look for?

  • Difficulty answering yes/no or “wh” questions
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty telling age appropriate stories
  • Difficulty combining words into age appropriate sentences
  • Difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling