Care Speech Pathology

Receptive Language Disorder

Receptive language difficulties (i.e., difficulty understanding what others are saying) affect people of various age groups in Australia. If your child is identified as struggling with their receptive language, it is important to know you are not alone. Families around the country are supporting a child with language disorder and/or receptive language challenges every day. The good news is, speech pathologists in Australia are specially trained to improve children’s ability to understand what is said to them, by using evidence-based programs and intensive intervention.

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Receptive Language Disorder

At Care Speech Pathology, we know how to help.

You have probably noticed a range of subtle signs if your child’s receptive language isn’t developing as you expected. These might include some or several of the following:

  • Difficulty understanding what words mean

  • Difficulty understanding the meaning of sentences or stories

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Difficulty understanding non-literal language

  • Difficulty understanding and answering questions

  • Poor listening skills or not attending to spoken language

  • Asking questions about things that have already been said or explained

  • Difficulty socialising

  • Misunderstanding instructions or what other people have said

what is Receptive Language Disorder ?

What is Receptive Language Disorder?

Receptive language difficulties occur when someone has trouble understanding spoken language. These challenges are not caused by hearing difficulties or a lack of exposure to language. Rather, it is a developmental disorder (ie, since birth) that is characterised by difficulties with language learning. Sometimes, receptive language disorder can also occur as a result of a brain injury.

Children with receptive language difficulties and/or language disorder often have difficulty understanding what is said to them. Despite these difficulties, these children may be able to express themselves well and have cognitive abilities that are typical for their age.

How can we help kids with receptive language disorder?

At Care Speech Pathology, our therapists play a crucial role in the assessment and treatment of language delays, difficulties and disorders.


We will start by completing a comprehensive assessment to evaluate your child’s receptive language skills, the severity of any difficulties and how it is impacting their ability to understand others. We will generally assess their expressive language skills as well to identify if they have any difficulties using language. This assessment may include standardised tests, informal assessments, observations of their understanding of language in different contexts as well as your insights and opinions and those of their educators. Your child will likely be referred for a hearing test if they haven’t had one recently in order to rule out any hearing differences that could be impacting their ability to understand spoken language.


We can then plan individualised treatment based on your child’s specific strengths and needs. Treatment will use various strategies to address your child’s difficulties in understanding language. Treatment will vary but will likely engage your child in activities that expand their vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure to improve their ability to understand what is being communicated. Treatment may involve lots of repetition, modelling and feedback. Social communication skills may be developed through stories, explicit teaching, games and role play to reduce social misunderstandings. We will monitor progress and adjust treatment as needed. We can cater this to your child’s interests and attention abilities.


The speech pathologist will collaborate with parents/carers to provide guidance, strategies, and activities that can be incorporated into daily routines and interactions to support your child's language development and enhance communication at home. The speech pathologist can make suggestions to your child’s educators that will support your child to better understand what is said to them at school. This might involve using simpler language, breaking down complex instructions into smaller steps, or using visual aids to reinforce understanding.


We will also consider your child’s communication as a whole and if there is anything else we can be doing to support them. For example, it might be suitable for your child to use another means of communication to support them in understanding the messages around them (such as posters, visuals, a communication book or a special type of sign language called Key Word Sign) temporarily while their language is still developing.

Remember: Speech pathologists only spend 1 hour with your child every week, whereas you spend 168 hours with them! This means that you are your child’s most important therapist, and our job as speech pathologists is simply to point you in the right direction. At Care Speech Pathology, we are experts in provide parent coaching so that you can become the best language teacher you can be!

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