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Quick Facts on Language Disorder

A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of language disorder, and how it's treated in children and adolescents.

en Español


Children with language disorder struggle with both learning and speaking language. It is distinct from speech disorder, which consists of problems producing sound. Children with language disorder struggle to understand others and communicate effectively, which causes them difficulty at home, at school, and in social situations.


  • Difficulties acquiring and using spoken, written, and gestural language
  • Struggling with vocabulary, sentence structure, or discourse
  • Difficulty following directions or organizing thoughts
  • Reliance on short, simple sentences
  • Using odd or incorrect word order, or using the wrong tense
  • Omitting words from sentences or depending excessively on placeholder sounds such as “um” to buy time while searching for the right word
  • Repeating either parts of or entire questions before answering them
  • Unwillingness to talk, especially to people they are less familiar with
  • Small range of vocabulary

Treatment of Language Disorder

Language disorder is most effectively treated with speech and language therapy. Since the disorder often results in emotional or behavioral problems such as depression or social anxiety, psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also often used.

This article was last reviewed or updated on October 30, 2023.