Receptive Language Disorders in Adults

Learning About Receptive Language Disorders in Adults and How an FNP Can Help

When most people think of language disorders, they naturally think of children. Children with “speech impediments” or difficulty understanding and using language are quite common. By working with a speech-language specialist, many children overcome these challenges completely by the time they reach adulthood.

With that said, there are many adults who also struggle with language disorders. Receptive language disorders, which involve difficulty with processing language communicated by others, can be a major challenge in daily life for people of any age.

If you think that you or someone in your life might have a receptive language disorder as an adult, here’s what you need to know and how to get help from an FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner).

What Are Receptive Language Disorders in Adults?

Receptive language disorders are issues with language comprehension, whether written or spoken. Someone who has a receptive language issue might have problems with understanding directions or even simply following conversations.

There can be many symptoms of receptive language disorders. Some people have trouble recalling words and complex vocabulary. Others might have trouble understanding grammar or syntax. People with receptive language disorders frequently struggle with following directions, especially multi-step directions, and can have trouble with context. Reading comprehension and auditory processing can both be affected.

The degree of severity varies from person to person, and not all people will exhibit all of these symptoms. In more mild cases of receptive language disorder, the symptoms might be nearly unnoticeable. Without a diagnosis, it’s often difficult to tell exactly how receptive language processing issues are affecting someone.

How Receptive Language Disorders Can Affect Daily Life

We use language constantly in daily life. In the United States, the literacy rate as of 2022 was 79%. However, that rate does not take into account the overall reading level of the population. While low literacy rates are understandably responsible for many of the issues people face in daily life, these struggles are different than for people with receptive language disorders.

Receptive language disorders can make it difficult for people to communicate with those around them. In severe cases, the inability to follow a conversation or adhere to directions can limit or compromise relationships. These problems can also make it very difficult for individuals to hold down a job of almost any kind.

The significant impact that receptive language disorders can have on people means that it is an issue that should be addressed as soon as possible. Diagnosing these disorders and beginning treatment can help people improve their self-esteem and the functional abilities they need for daily life.

Identifying Receptive Language Disorders

Many people with receptive language disorders are diagnosed during childhood. In general, early intervention can make life easier for people with these kinds of disorders. However, sometimes the signs of receptive language disorders get missed for a variety of reasons.

People who have these disorders from a young age, yet do not receive a diagnosis until adulthood, might not even be aware that there is a problem. They might assume that the challenges they face are just a part of their personality. Many people even develop coping mechanisms throughout their lives that help them compensate for the difficulties they experience in language comprehension.

Sometimes, people are not born with receptive language issues but develop them after a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. Others develop these issues alongside neurological conditions, such as aphasia or dementia.

Identifying receptive language disorders isn’t always easy. However, working with a professional to help improve language comprehension and understanding can be beneficial for all adults with these disorders, regardless of their age and the cause of the issues.

How are Receptive Language Disorders Diagnosed in Adults?

If someone is exhibiting symptoms of a receptive language disorder, then getting a diagnosis from a trained professional is the first step. This is where a general healthcare provider, such as an FNP, can come in. Although FNPs do not typically specialize in areas such as speech disorders, they can get the ball rolling by conducting a comprehensive evaluation and assessments to gather some information about the patient’s symptoms.

Once an FNP suspects that a patient might be struggling with receptive language issues, they can work with a speech-language pathologist or neuropsychologist to get a full picture of the patient’s condition and come up with a treatment plan.

The diagnostic process will involve assessments and tests to understand the patient’s condition and to rule out similar conditions that might be causing the problem. Cognitive assessments, language assessments, and a full history are all tools that might be used in the diagnosis of a receptive language disorder.

Supportive Treatment Plans for A Better Life

It’s very important for a patient’s primary care team to collaborate with their speech and neurological specialists to develop an individualized treatment plan. An FNP can help by cooperating with the patient’s specialists, working to understand the patient’s individual struggles, and providing both education and support.

In addition to individual therapies, FNPs can help patients by providing them with strategies for daily life. Coping mechanisms can help patients improve their quality of life as they proceed with the treatment plan and experience meaningful progress. This can be extremely empowering for patients.

Going through speech therapy can be a long, sometimes discouraging road. For patients to succeed, they need both emotional and practical support from their care teams. By working collaboratively, FNPs and speech-language specialists can help to improve patients’ lives by helping them to better communicate with those in the world around them.