Language Deficits in children with Learning Disability (LD)

Children with learning disability exhibit difficulty not only in learning, but also in their language usage – both in expression and social interaction abilities. Language deficits are seen in verbal expression as well as listening capacity. As these two measures our ability to communicate with others, a deficit in either or both can affect the child’s academic achievements and eventually the quality of life.


Expression deficits:

Expression deficit is the most common concern in a child with learning disability.  Some common characteristics observed in children with LD are:

a)      They often use less appropriate words as they fail to get the right word.

b)      They have difficulty in understanding complex sentence structures.

c)      They have difficulty in responding to questions.

d)      Have difficulties in recollecting words, which means the time taken to remember may be slower than that of their peers, and then speak more slowly.

Listening deficits:

A child with disability in listening may fail to follow directions or appear oppositional or unmotivated. Teacher’s careful observation and assessment of the student’s language ability is important for ensuring success.

 Problems with Social interaction skills

Children with learning disabilities often have problems with social conversations. These students may exhibit the following characteristics:

• Take more time than normal children to process incoming information.

• Do not understand the meaning of words or sequences they hear or see.

• Often miss nonverbal cues.

• Do not understand jokes.

• Might laugh inappropriately or at wrong times.

•Difficulty doing group activities.

•Difficulty in giving or following directions.

• Conversations are usually marked by long silences.

• May not be skilled in responding to statements or questions.


Participating in conversations with friends can be especially troublesome for a child with learning disability as the ebb and flow that is characteristic of conversation eludes them.

A speech language pathologist can help the child with appropriate interventions.  As a responsible parent, it is necessary to be aware of your child’s performance at school and the difficulties that he/she is facing.  When you find your child is low in language skills appropriate for the age and consistently scores low in academic, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

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