Language Disorder in Adults

ICD-10 Code: F80.9

Language disorder is part of a cluster of diagnoses called communication disorders. Communication disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Language Disorder
  • Speech Sound Disorder
  • Childhood-onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering)
  • Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

A communication disorder is an impairment in the processes of speech, language or communication. Speech is the expressive production of sounds and includes an individual’s articulation, fluency, voice and resonance quality. Language includes the form, function, and use of a convention system of symbols (i.e., spoken words, written words, sign language, pictures) in a rule-governed manner for communication. Communication includes any verbal or nonverbal behavior that influences the behavior, ideas, or attitudes of another individual. An adult with a communication problem may exhibit many different symptoms. These may include difficulty following directions, attending to a conversation, pronouncing words, perceiving what was said, expressing oneself, or being understood because of a stutter or a hoarse voice. An assessment of speech, language and communication abilities must take into account the individual’s cultural and language context, particularly for individuals growing up in bilingual environments.  

What is Language Disorder?

Language disorder is a psychiatric disorder that affects between 6 and 8 million individuals in the United States. A language disorder is rarely caused by a lack of intelligence. Most individuals with a language disorder are of normal intelligence.

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Understanding Language Disorder

Language disorder typically emerges during the early developmental period. By age 4, individual differences in language ability are more stable and are highly predictable of future outcomes. Language disorder diagnosed after the age of 4 is likely to be stable over time and typically persists into adulthood.

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How is language disorder treated?

Language disorder is treatable. Interventions recommendations for language disorder are outlined in the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and American Family Physician.

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