Language Disorders and the Impact on Learning

When a person has a Language disorders (deficits in expressive and/or receptive language), it can impact all academic areas. Despite the wide spread impact on learning, many evaluators fail to perform a full oral language battery during Psychoeducational Testing. Receptive language refers to a person’s ability to understand oral language. Expressive language refers to a person’s ability to express themselves using language. When there are deficits in language, it can impact a student’s ability to transmit and acquire information in the classroom. Most of classroom learning is through class lectures and oral instructions. Subsequently, when there is a language disorder, a student can appear “lost” during instructions and have a difficult time learning new information. Read below to learn all the areas a Language Disorder can have on a student’s academics. Does your child struggle with any of these?

1.     Math Word Problems- Even math can be impacted when a student has a language disorder.  A student can become lost during math word problems and not sure how to solve the problem.

2.     Written Expression- A student with a language disorder often has difficulty expressing their thoughts on paper. They may struggle starting a paper or have difficulty organizing and sequencing their thoughts.

3.     Reading Comprehension- Many individuals with language disorders have adequate word decoding skills, but struggle retaining or understanding information they read. Additionally, a student might struggle with inferring what might happen next or how a character feels.

4.     Foreign Language- Individuals with a language disorder often experience difficulty acquiring a foreign language.

5.     Multiple Step Instructions- Many students with oral language disorder have difficulty following commands when there is multiple steps or instructions.

6.     Higher Order Language- Higher Order Language refers to more complex language. This can include inferences (inferring meaning when not directly stated) and abstract language, such as figures of speech and sarcasm.

7.     Grammar- Individuals with a language disorder may struggle with using correct sentence formation and grammar.

8.     Behavior Problems- Many younger children with language disorders often have behavior problems. This is because they have difficulty expressing their needs, thoughts, and emotions; subsequently, they tend to act out their emotions.

9.     Socially- Because a person with a language disorder often struggles with inferences and expressing themselves, there are occasionally concerns regarding the person’s social skills.

If your child struggles with more than one of these areas, it is recommended to have a Full Psychoeducational Evaluation. The evaluation will assess strengths and weaknesses, as well as identify how your child processes information and learns. Make sure to ask if the evaluator is trained to evaluate oral and written language, in addition to cognitive and academic skills. 

Written by: Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting