Receptive language disorder is a condition in which a child has difficulty understanding spoken language. These difficulties are notable when the child’s skills are compared to other children the same age.


Symptoms of Receptive Language Disorder include:

  • Not seeming to listen when spoken to
  • Seeming to be in his/her “own world”
  • Not responding to his/her name
  • Not pointing to objects, body parts, or clothing items when named
  • Lack of interest when story books are read to him/her
  • Short attention span, especially for activities that involve listening
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Frustration with not understanding what is happening
  • Parroting words or phrases excessively (echolalia) or in the wrong context
  • Misunderstanding a message because of focusing on only one part (e.g., handing you a car with wheels when you ask for the “car with no wheels” because he/she focused on only car and wheels)
  • Needing multiple repetitions or clarifications (e.g., needing “broken car” because he/she did not understand “car with no wheels”)
  • Difficulty learning new words or information
  • Answering yes/no questions incorrectly (often say “yeah” for every answer)
  • Difficulty answering ‘wh’ questions (what, who, where, when, why, how)
  • Difficulty understanding descriptions (hot/cold, dirty/clean, same/different)
  • Difficulty understanding longer or more complicated sentences
  • Language skills below the expected level for his/her age

Brief description of rehab evaluation:

To evaluate receptive language disorder, the speech-language pathologist will assess your child’s ability to understand spoken language and follow directions. The therapist will talk and play with your child. The therapist may also observe how you and your child interact as you talk and play together. Your child may be asked to look at books, point to pictures, hand adults specific toys when asked, answer questions, play with toys, or participate in other structured activities.

Brief description of common rehab treatment interventions:

Treatment is play-based and will focus on your child’s areas of difficulty. You will learn specific techniques you can use in your normal daily activities (playing with toys, mealtime, dressing, going places, etc.) that will help your child follow directions and understand what you say.

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