How can a person tell if a person has a communication disorder or learning disability that affects their speech and language?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Communication disorders have symptoms that are relative to the underlying causes. 

Symptoms of evident commo disorder include:

  • word production and formation
  • inability to verbalize
  • mutism
  • inability to understand spoken language
  • inability to follow simple directions
  • (teenagers) inability to visualize or verbalize abstract scenarios

Hearing issues are also associated to communication disorders. One being a result of the other.

The way to determine if this is a learning disability is by discerning whether the word production is merely caused by a hearing disability or by a specific neurological and cognitive disorder. For example, the inability to follow simple directions, the inability to verbalize, and the inability to understand spoken language could be symptoms of

  • ADD
  • information processing
  • cognitive dissonance
  • mild mental deceleration
  • autism (or traits)
  • ohi (other health impaired)

The importance of documentation is that the teacher can make the correlation of whether the interventions have any success that can be measured academically. When the academic data shows that there is a connection between the disorder and the skill that cannot be mastered, then there is a higher chance that the underlying problem is caused by a cognitive and not a mere communicative irregularity.

Karyth Cara eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Communication disorders can be limited or complex in scope. It may be simply the inability to pronounce a specific phoneme, like an /r/ or a /th/. It may be a more complex and involve a struggling fluency disorder. Communication disorders can be genetic, can develop over time, or can be the result of injury, such as a mild traumatic brain injury.

In order to receive a diagnosis a speech-language pathologists may be consulted. Evaluations may be available through schools. A speech-language pathologist will assess the individual for symptoms and characteristics and will be involved in devising and implementing a treatment and therapy plan.

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