Students’ Language Disorder


It was noticed long ago that language determines the limits of one’s perception of the world. It is central to many areas of human existence, but learning is arguably one of the most important spheres among them. Therefore, problems related to language usage may seriously affect educational outcomes and serve as major barriers to students’ success in life. According to American Psychiatric Association (2013), a language disorder is defined as “persistent difficulties in the acquisition and use of language across modalities … due to deficits in comprehension or production” (p. 42). It is usually associated with reduced vocabulary, limited ability to form sentences based on the rules of grammar and morphology, and impaired ability to construct logically connected sentences and usage of correct words.

In the personal education context, a language disorder is considered to cause students’ learning disabilities as communication and comprehension are the cornerstones of most school activities (McGregor et al., 2020). For that reason, related institutions should develop an exceptional approach to teaching children and youngsters who are facing such an issue. However, language disorder may have various reasons behind it, and each should be addressed accordingly. Therefore, this essay, firstly, seeks to discuss characteristics inherent to language disorder and analyze its causes, and, secondly, provide suggestions concerning approaches that can be implemented in the educational system to help students suffering from it.

Characteristics of Language Disorder

Language acquisition and use rest on both receptive and expressive skills. The former implies the ability to process and understand incoming information, while the latter means the ability to produce verbal or non-verbal messages. In the learning settings, students with language problems may struggle to understand teachers’ instructions, the content of textbooks and presentations (receptive impairment), as well as to deliver their ideas verbally or on paper (expressive impairment). However, it would be misleading to claim that lack of receptive skills is strictly associated with the shortage of expressive abilities or vice versa. They can exist simultaneously but also may appear separately. For instance, a person can encounter difficulties attempting to communicate his thoughts but be able to successfully comprehend all the incoming information. Therefore, the literature suggests that specialists examine both components of the language ability of the student.

Factors That Cause Language Disorder

On the other hand, it is necessary to distinguish the origins of language disorder. The researchers list several reasons that can cause such a state, including biomedical origins (brain trauma), hearing loss, intellectual disability, or autism spectrum disorder. However, some cases cannot be explained by either of the named causes as scholars struggle to determine factors that lead to the impairment. Therefore, two terms are used interchangeably to refer to the state when the problem is not related to any previously mentioned reasons, namely specific language impairment (SLI) and developmental language disorder (DLD).

Language Disorder’s Effect on Academic and Career Success

Statistical data suggests that the problem of language disorder should be addressed as significant numbers of people are affected. For instance, approximately 7% of kindergarten kids have a DLD (Laasonen et al., 2018). Moreover, 1 in 54 children have autism spectrum disorder, and at least two million US citizens have brain injury-related language impairment or aphasia (Data & Statistics on Autism, n.d.; Aphasia fact sheet, n.d. ). Conti-Ramsden et al. (2018) found that students who have DLD showed less successful academic results than their peers, and those with a history of DLD were more commonly employed in lower-skill positions. Therefore, an exceptional approach for educational institutions is needed to provide equal opportunities for people who have language impairment. This essay will further discuss suggestions on how the quality of education can be improved for two groups of people, namely those with DLD and those with an autism spectrum disorder. They were chosen because both categories are the most presented in public educational institutions compared to others.

Suggestions for Educators

In order to help autistic students and students with DLD, teachers should seek to reduce the barriers that exist due to language disorders. Firstly, educators can reduce one’s sentences and make them concrete. Secondly, it would be better to provide additional sensory information to a verbal one. For instance, presentations with pictures could accompany the lecture. Thirdly, teachers can put additional effort into explaining difficult words. Again providing pictures or gestures would make understanding easier. Fourthly, criticism for grammatical mistakes in speech or text should be abandoned. Instead, it is suggested that teachers repeat the sentence correctly for students with a language disorder. Finally, professors should constantly check whether a student understands everything that is told. These suggestions can be applied both to DLD and autistic students. However, for the latter, two more recommendations can be made. Firstly, sensory overload should be avoided as autistic kids are easily distracted. That includes bright lights, strong smells, and loud noises. Secondly, teachers can directly teach students social skills, explaining the communication process in detail.


The language disorder problem is found to be a complex phenomenon that necessitates a special approach. Its definition, main characteristics, and causing factors were discussed. It was discovered that language ability consists of receptive and expressive skills. A person can have the problem only with one of them or with both simultaneously. Next, it was found that language impairment is associated with aphasia, hearing loss, intellectual disability, or autism. However, sometimes it is not clear what causes it. Finally, based on preliminary analysis, a list of suggestions for educational institutions was introduced.


American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Fifth ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

Aphasia fact sheet (n.d.).National Aphasia Association. Web.

Conti-Ramsden, G., Durkin, K., Toseeb, U., Botting, N., & Pickles, A. (2018). Education and employment outcomes of young adults with a history of developmental language disorder. International journal of language & communication disorders, 53(2), 237-255.

Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder (n.d.). Centers for disease control and prevention. Web.

Dockrell, J. E., Ricketts, J., Palikara, O., Charman, T., & Lindsay, G. A. (2019). What drives educational support for children with developmental language disorder or autism spectrum disorder: Needs, or diagnostic category?. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 4, p. 29). Frontiers.

Laasonen, M., Smolander, S., Lahti-Nuuttila, P., Leminen, M., Lajunen, H. R., Heinonen, K.,. Pesonen, A. K., Bailey T. M., Pothos, E. M., Kujala, T., Leppänen, P. H. T., Bartlett C. W., Geneid A., Lauronen L., Service E., Kunnari, S. & Arkkila, E. (2018). Understanding developmental language disorder-the Helsinki longitudinal SLI study (HelSLI): a study protocol. BMC psychology, 6(1), 1-13.

McGregor, K. K., Goffman, L., Van Horne, A. O., Hogan, T. P., & Finestack, L. H. (2020). Developmental language disorder: Applications for advocacy, research, and clinical service. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 5(1), 38-46.

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