Language disorder is a communication disorder in which a person has persistent difficulties in learning and using various forms of language (i.e., spoken, written, sign language). Individuals with language disorder have language abilities that are significantly below those expected for their age, which limits the ability to communicate or effectively participate in many social, academic, or professional environments.
Symptoms of language disorder first appear in the early developmental period when children begin to learn and use language. Language learning and use relies on both expressive and receptive skills. Expressive ability refers to the production of verbal or gestural signals, while receptive ability refers to the process of receiving and understanding language. Individuals with language disorder may have impairments in either their receptive or expressive abilities, or both. Overall, people with this condition have deficits in understanding and producing vocabulary, sentence structure, and discourse. Because people with language disorder typically have a limited understanding of vocabulary and grammar, they also have a limited capacity for engaging in conversation.