Language Processing Disorder Explained
Speech 4 min read

Language Processing Disorder Explained

What is Language Processing Disorder (LPD), what are the causes and how it is treated? This blog will cover the basics to hopefully clear some confusion about the LPD.

I just went to a fabulous workshop by Suzanne Foley, who is an Audiologist. She discussed the differences between a language processing disorder, auditory processing disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Even as a speech-language pathologist, I can get confused about which disorder is which so I can imagine it is extremely confusing for parents and other professionals to distinguish between the three. 

To start, I wanted to cover the basics of  language processing disorder. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders at my high school. In fact, this year alone, I have received about 10 general education students who are bombing their current courses for an unknown reason. Once assessed, I can tell there’s a breakdown in their processing of oral and written language.

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What Is Language Processing Disorder?

A Language Processing problem is difficulty with accessing acquired language abilities (i.e. vocabulary) and efficiently integrating those skills to formulate a response (verbal, written, gesture, or behavior).

Gail Richard

If your child is having difficulty with reading, communication, following multi-step directions, can’t remember and are distracted, they may have a language processing disorder. 

What Are the “Red Flags” for Preschoolers?

There are several key characteristics of someone who has a language processing disorder. Once a child hits preschool age, these characteristics are much more visible, especially when compared to their same-aged peers.

These behaviors may include:

  1. Poor sequencing.
  2. Slow development of vocabulary and concepts.
  3. Ineffective short term memory skills.
  4. Slow use and understanding of “why” questions.
  5. Word retrieval problems (can’t think of the word that they want to say).
  6. Immature grammar with persistent error patterns.
  7. Slow to develop social language skills; poor awareness of conversation rules.

Causes of Language Processing Disorder

Although there isn’t one specific cause for LPD, there are some commonalities that children who are diagnosed share. These items include:

  1. Maternal education: the mother has less than a high school education.
  2. Birth order/sex: the last born male has a higher risk of being diagnosed with language processing disorder. 
  3. APGAR scores when born are “low.” Please see the table for more information about APGAR scores.
Indicator0 Points1 Point 2 Points
Appearance (skin color)Blue; PalePink Body; Blue ExtremitiesPink
PulseAbsentBelow 100 bpmOver 100 bpm
Grimace (reflex iritability)FloppyMinimal Response to StimulationPrompt Response to Stimulation
Activity (muscle tone)AbsentFlexed Arms and LegsActive
RespirationAbsentSlow and IrregularVigorous Cry

What Can be Done in the Classroom?

I typically gear my suggestion section of the blogs for what you can do at home, but I think it’s important to talk about what teachers can do for your child if they are diagnosed with LPD.

If modifications are not made in the classroom setting, your child will exhibit behaviors at home from being frustrated and overwhelmed. Although these strategies are geared towards school, you can most definitely adapt them for the home environment.

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12 Strategies for Language Processing Disorder

  1. If a student does not respond when you ask them a question, simply ask “what did I just say?” If the child can repeat the information back clearly, that means they heard the information, but may not know the meaning of what you asked. If they repeat it back inaccurately, then you should repeat the information exactly as you said it previously and provide additional information. 
  2. Talk slower, not louder.
  3. Repeat information first. Do not rephrase initially.
  4. Pause before important information or give physical cues (tapping shoulder) before speaking.
  5. Use simple instructions when talking to the child. No more than three words should be used. 
  6. Provide word bank when testing the child.
  7. Use exaggerations or songs.
  8. Provide visual reminders about daily routines. You should have the child draw the picture or the cue because it will help them use and remember it better.
  9. Minimize requirements for memorization. Typical children can only remember a short amount of words. Be aware of what the memory expectations are by age and adjust instructions accordingly.
  10. Monitor noise level at home and in the classroom. Try and eliminate any extra or distracting noises when the child is trying to learn or do homework.
  11. When in school, make sure you provide preferential seating. The child should sit close to the speaker when teaching or giving instructions. 
  12. Discuss any accommodations with the child. It’s important for them to know why they sit in front and why certain modifications are in place to help them succeed. 

Other Important Information about Language Processing Disorder

Please do not penalize the child for not verbally responding. They may not always understand what is being asked of them or what is being discussed. By not responding, this gives them time to process and decreases the chance that they will be embarrassed in front of their classmates, peers and friends. 

If the student does raise their hand or attempt to answer a question, call on that student first and help them answer if they are struggling. Provide a multiple choice response or provide cues to what the answer is. This also goes for the home environment. If your child cannot make a decision, give them several choices such as, “do you want to go to the park or the movies?”

You should never assume that your child understands the vocabulary that you are using at home or that they are learning in the classroom setting. You should divide, identify, organize, arrange and describe any new words that are being introduced. 

In addition to these suggestions, make sure you are talking to your child’s teacher and speech-language pathologist. They will give you worksheets and valuable insight as to what your child is or is not doing. The speech pathologist will also provide more in depth information regarding language processing disorder!

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The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not necessarily reflect the views of Blub Blub Inc. All content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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