Language disorders aren’t confined to children only. Adults may experience problems, as well, usually the result of a disorder they’ve had since childhood, or a newly acquired disorder related to disease or trauma. The latter scenario is often accompanied by a loss of function in other areas, and poses a threat to a person’s health and quality of life.
Causes of Adult Language Disorders
Unlike a speech disorder, which involves difficulty with pronunciation or articulation, a language disorder occurs when a person has trouble understanding others, or sharing their own thoughts, ideas, and feelings. It is commonly associated with a stroke. Other medical conditions that may be responsible for acquired adult language disorders include dementia, traumatic brain injury, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, and certain types of cancer.
In some cases, a language disorder may have existed since birth, and not become apparent until language demands escalate with age.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Adult language disorders are best treated by a professional speech-language pathologist (SLP) skilled in the evaluation and treatment of patients with this type of disorder. The SLP will converse the patient and may conduct a variety of tests to determine whether a disorder is present, and how severe it is.
Treating adult language disorders can be challenging. When language loss occurs following a stroke or other traumatic brain injury, the neurological damage is often progressive, and difficult (if not impossible) to reverse. Speech and language therapy can help a person regain some functioning, but the odds of a full recovery are rare.