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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Language Disorders in Children
      Category : Health Centers > Disabilities

Language Disorders in Children

Alternate Names : Communication Disorders in Children

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Some children develop problems with language. Language is defined as any method of expression or communication. It can be verbal or non-verbal.

What is going on in the body?

Language is not the same as speaking, though the two are often related. Speaking, or speech, is the use of the voice to express ideas. A child may be unable to speak or talk, but still able to communicate using sign language. However, children with language difficulties usually have trouble speaking due to the language problem. There are many different causes of language problems in children.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

There are many causes of language problems, including:

Hearing impairments, which interfere with the ability to learn vocal language. In the case of complete deafness, language can often be learned if taught without sound. This is the basis for sign language. Children need to hear sounds in order to learn and imitate them. Hearing loss can be due to different causes. Chronic otitis media, or repeated middle ear infections in children, is a common cause of hearing loss. Meningitis, an infection of the lining that surrounds the brain, is another cause.

Nervous system conditions or damage, which may affect the ability to learn language. Nervous system disorders can result in a wide variety of language problems. This depends on the area of the brain that is affected. Examples include:

  • cerebral palsy, a type of brain damage that is often present at birth
  • inherited conditions, such as Down syndrome, or aminoaciduria, a problem with protein metabolism
  • exposure to toxins or infections in the womb, such as the fetal alcohol syndrome
  • head injury
  • other brain damage, such as from a stroke or AIDS
  • Autism, a form of brain dysfunction that usually occurs for unknown reasons. Affected children fail to develop normal language. They may use language in a way that cannot be understood by other people.

    Elective mutism, a condition in which a child chooses not to use language in certain settings. This usually means the child has an emotional or psychiatric disturbance. This disturbance may occur due to child abuse, neglect, or other problems.

    Lack of education. Children can only learn a language if they are taught it.

    Other causes of language problems are also possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.


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    Language Disorders in Children: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/07/01

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