Language Processing Disorder in Adults

Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

Have you ever met an adult who asks others to repeat themselves often, or frequently has trouble verbalizing their own thoughts? This person may be suffering from a language processing disorder (LPD). Learn about the cause and symptoms of LPD and strategies for working with adults with LPD.

What Is Language Processing Disorder?

While talking with a colleague, Nelson knows what he wants to say, but he has difficulty verbalizing it. Nelson also has trouble understanding some of the things that his boss says when they all gather for team meetings. Nelson often feels frustrated with his inability to say or interpret meaning in others' language. Nelson has a language processing disorder.

A language processing disorder (LPD) is a deficiency in the ability to understand what one hears (language); it can also affect a person's ability to speak. Individuals with LPD usually have normal appearance, hearing capabilities and intelligence. Due to their LPD, they may have issues with attention (ADHD if severe) or learning disabilities.

Language processing disorder is a type of auditory processing disorder (APD). While APD is more generalized on inability to interpret sounds, LPD is more specified on inability to interpret meaning from language.

Cause of Language Processing Disorder

Someone with LPD may visit an audiologist with complaints that they cannot hear what others are saying. After their tests come back normal, they may feel puzzled. What they might not know is that there is a lack in their brain's ability to take what they hear and turn it into meaningful language that they can understand.

Language processing disorder is caused by a deficit in the processing ability of the auditory nervous system in the brain. A normally functioning auditory nervous system will take note of patterns and scripts in communication; then it will utilize cues in the environment to help a person make sense of what someone is saying to them, even if the hearing environment is less than optimal.

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