Language Processing Disorder: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

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

Some people have difficulty speaking and understanding the meaning behind other's words. This can be caused by Language Processing Disorder. Learn about LPD symptoms and treatment techniques in this lesson.

What Is Language Processing Disorder?

Having language processing disorder (LPD) is a bit like going to a foreign country, not knowing the country's spoken language, and being very confused when natives try to speak to you. Well, perhaps it is not quite that severe!

Language Processing Disorder (LPD) is difficulty receiving, recognizing and understanding language; it also involves difficulty expressing language. People with LPD may have difficulty getting the meaning behind a joke. They may also experience frustration with having so much to say but not being able to verbally express it. But it is important to note that individuals with LPD can often hear perfectly fine and have normal intellect.

An assessment of LPD can be done by a speech or language therapist. The specific cause of LPD is still unidentified, but it is classified as a neurological problem within the auditory nervous system. There appears to be a disconnect somewhere in the messages transferred from the ear to the brain for processing.

LPD is a type of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). APDs negatively alter the interpretation of all of the sounds that a person's brain processes, but Language Processing Disorder (LPD) just alters one's interpretation of language.

Symptoms of Language Processing Disorder

Tim, age 30, struggles with LPD. He comes home from work feeling defeated. He explains to his wife that he often struggles with verbally expressing to colleagues what he is thinking. He has clear thoughts of what needs to be said, but can't concisely verbalize them in an eloquent or intellectually-sounding manner.

A person may suffer with LPD if they:

  • Struggle with finding meaning in other's language.
  • Have poor writing skills.
  • Feel frustrated about not being able to clearly and concisely say what they are thinking.
  • Frequently feel like the word they want to say is at the tip of their tongue.
  • Have difficulty recalling an actual word, but can draw or describe it.
  • Feel depressed due to their inability to speak or understand others.

Emily, age 9, has difficulty understanding her friends' jokes. She has difficulty following stories that her teacher tells, as well. In fact, she has trouble spelling, reading and writing at school.

Symptoms of LPD in children could include:

  • Difficulty following several directions at once.
  • Trouble understanding stories or even simple jokes.
  • Trouble rhyming, reading, spelling and writing.
  • Difficulty understanding and engaging in conversations with friends or adult family members.
  • Difficulty with attention in loud surroundings, such as in a classroom or at the mall.

Language Processing Disorder can cause difficulty with reading and writing, which can result in frustration and even depression.
Kid having difficulty.

Treatment of Language Processing Disorder

There may not be a way to cure a person of Language Processing Disorder, but there are ways to increase ability to process language. A person with LPD can see a speech or language pathologist or therapist for treatment. Sometimes mental health therapy is recommended, as well, to help the person cope with the emotional or behavioral problems that can result from LPD.

In schools, there may be a treatment team that can come together in treating a student with LPD. This treatment team may consist of the school counselor, an audiologist, the child's teacher, the child's parent(s) and a speech-language pathologist.

In working with children and interacting with adults with LPD, some techniques that can be used include:

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