Language and the Adolescent
From: Let's Talk # 33
SourceAmerican Speech- Language- Hearing Association
Adolescents With Language Disorder
What Can You Do?
Characteristics of Adolescent Language Disorder
ForumsLearning and Other Disabilities
Related ArticlesGeneral Information about Speech and Language Disorders
Helping Your Child Learn Responsible Behavior
Brian is a 14-year-old who is repeating the seventh grade. Art is his favorite and best subject. In other subjects, he struggles to maintain a C average. His teachers comment about his lack of organization, his difficulty following directions, and his 'class clown' behavior. He never seems to quite fit in with the crowd. His level of frustration is rising along with his truancy rate. Many things may be contributing to Brian's difficulties, including a possible language disorder.
The ability to read and write is strongly influenced by the ability to understand and use language. Students who are good listeners and speakers tend to become strong readers and writers. Language has a major role in all subjects including reading, math, history, geography, and even art. The early school years emphasize language development, sociaI-emotional growth and readiness skills. The middle grades emphasize specific subjects. Mastery of language is assumed. Emphasis is placed on written skills. The later grades involve more complex use of language by students, including an increased vocabulary, more advanced sentence structure, and different kinds of language for different situations.
The importance of early identification and remediation of language delays or disorders in young children is well known. Less commonly known is the importance of identifying and remediating language disorders in the adolescent. Such disorders may lead to feelings of failure, low self-esteem, poor academic and social success, and a high drop out rate.
Language disorder refers to any impairment in
Adolescents identified with language disorders include:
A student's understanding and use of language, hearing, thinking abilities, emotional and social skills, desire to interact and communicate with others, central and peripheral nervous system functioning, and type of language models are assessed in order to identify exactly any kind of language disorder that exists and to rule out other causes of the behaviors. The speech-language pathologist works closely with other professionals, such as the school psychologist, to make these decisions.
Intervention techniques may focus on working to improve pragmatic skills and thinking skills. The student will be taught strategies for learning new information and skills.
If you recognize the characteristic behaviors of language disorders in an adolescent or if you have concerns, consult a speech- language pathologist. If you need a referral, call the toll-free HELPLINE (1-800-638-8255) or write to
Consumer Affairs Division,