Receptive Language Disorder

Receptive language disorder refers to children who have difficulty attending to, processing and comprehending spoken language.

Children with receptive language problems have great difficulty understanding what is said to them despite having normal hearing.

Children with receptive language impairment will often have an accompanying expressive language disorder.

Receptive language difficulty occurs because the child is not receiving and interpreting speech signals efficiently, which can lead to an impoverished semantic word knowledge and understanding of grammatical rules.

Children with language disorder are thus doubly affected - difficulty in understanding the meaning of words correlates to difficulty using words.

It's rare to diagnose a child that only has receptive language impairment.

In my experience, expressive language problems are almost always closely linked to receptive language deficits.

Research has yet to fully determine the cause of developmental receptive language impairment, but as with expressive language disorder, genetic predisposition (a family history of language disorder) may be a factor in some cases.


Paul, R. (2006) Language Disoders form Infancy through Adolescence. Assessment and Intervention. Mosby

Content Last Updated 8/11

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