Health Library
Processing Disorder - Language or Auditory

What Are Language Processing Disorders?

“Processing disorder” is a broad term that is used to describe a range of communication disorders. Two common processing disorders are language processing disorder and auditory processing disorder.

A language processing disorder (LPD) is not the same as an auditory processing disorder (APD). In an LPD, children will have trouble understanding and making sense of the words they hear. They may have problems:

  • Following directions
  • Understanding stories

A speech-language pathologist evaluates LPD.

Children with APD have trouble hearing and interpreting the message. It is different from hearing loss or deafness. Children with APD:

  • May have normal hearing
  • Do not correctly process or interpret what they hear
  • Have trouble hearing the differences between sounds in words. This can happen even when the sounds are clear and loud enough to be heard.
  • May have more trouble when in a noisy area

An audiologist evaluates APD.

Causes of a Language Processing Disorder

LPD is a neurological problem. The exact cause is often unknown. LPD affects the skills needed to understand information presented verbally. Those skills include attention, memory, following directions, learning, and sometimes even reading and spelling.

Typical Issues Related to a Language Processing Disorder

Children with LPD often have trouble with:

  • Following multistep directions
  • Following spoken directions
  • Rhyming, reading, spelling and writing
  • Understanding and joining in conversations with peers and adults
  • Vocabulary and sentence structure

Treatment for a Language Processing Disorder

Treatment for LPD includes therapy that is based on the child’s individual needs. Therapy may include:

  • Improving listening skills
  • Working on ways for the child to be a successful learner at school and in the community
  • Computer programs and assistive listening devices to improve the processing skills

A team that includes a speech-language pathologist, audiologist, teacher and pediatrician is important to help improve the outcome of a child with LPD.

How to Help Your Child

  • Give simple and direct instructions.
  • Reduce background noise at home.
  • Get the child’s attention before giving directions.
  • Speak clearly while facing the child.
  • Use pictures to support what is being said.
  • Ask the child to restate what is heard.
  • Provide predictable routines for daily living.

Last Updated 03/2019

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