What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
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A language-based learning disability can have an impact on a person's ability to communicate and understand verbal information. An example is dyslexia, a disorder which makes it difficult for children to read and can interfere with writing skills like spelling and sentence formation. Such disabilities may be congenital or associated with brain damage, and can vary in severity. Interventions are available to help people develop skills and compensate for the disability in order to succeed in the classroom and the workplace.

These learning disabilities can involve issues with receptive or expressive communication, as well as language coding. For example, a student might have difficulty understanding spoken or written directions, or might not be able to communicate clearly in speech or writing. Coding in a language-based learning disability might cause problems with generating or understanding clear communication due to confusion about word meanings, letter order, and other topics. Language-based learning disabilities integrate one or more issues with speech and language and can become very complex.

People with these disabilities can have difficulty understanding language, developing communication skills, and applying knowledge. Some, like students with dyslexia, have difficulty reading and writing, but no problems with oral communication. Others may experience more widespread communication disorders that make it difficult to establish and understand communication. A child might not be able to formulate clear spoken sentences, for example, generating word salad instead of meaningful statements because of a language-based learning disability.


Educators are often the first to identify a language-based learning disability. As children enter school, they are presented with an increasingly complex series of language tasks. They are expected to follow oral directions, communicate verbally with other students, and develop reading and writing skills. A child who lags behind peers may be flagged by concerned educators to evaluation to determine if the child has a learning disability. In other cases, the problem may not be recognized until adulthood because it is mild or the subject didn't interact with trained educators during the crucial period of language development.

Once a child shows signs of a language-based learning disability, an evaluation can provide more specific information about the child's areas of competency, as well as areas where the child struggles. This can help a therapist develop an appropriate intervention. Children who have trouble with reading, for example, might receive extra tutoring to help them catch up. Spelling tips and tricks can help a dyslexic student spell successfully, while others might benefit from reading comprehension training to learn to interpret texts. Speech-language therapy can help patients with oral language difficulties.


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