Receptive Language Disorder Resources & Materials

CEU hearing picture

Half of our time spent testing children with language disorders is focused on receptive language.  But is this true of our intervention?  If you are like most therapists then you spend a great deal of time working on expressive language abilities.  As a field we are slowly waking up to the fact that receptive language intervention may have a dramatic impact on a client’s progress.  Here’s why:

1.  If a child can attend then he is more likely to remember and produce expressive language.

2. Receptive language is larger than expressive language.

That is to say, that for every word we can say we comprehend way more.  No one knows for sure the exact ratio but information on second-language acquisition suggests comprehension abilities can be 5X greater than speaking abilities.

3. Attention deficits and poor vocabulary acquisition are two of the most common referral concerns.

When we co-evaluation students with diagnosticians the difference between receptive language and oral comprehension is one area that we are always trying to ferret out.

What is a Receptive Language Disorder?

Let’s start with a clear definition of receptive language disorder and then share resources.

A receptive language disorder is an impairment in the comprehension of a spoken, written, gestural and/or other symbol system. When a child has receptive language disorder, he or she exhibits significant deficits in the level of development of comprehension of language. These deficits affect how the child functions socially or academically. Most children with a receptive language disorder will also have an expressive language disorder (difficulty using language to express ideas).

Children with a receptive language disorder can have difficulty with any of the following:

  • Understanding meaning of gestures
  • Following directions
  • Understanding questions
  • Identifying objects and pictures
  • Taking turns when talking with others
  • Understanding the order of words in a sentence
  • Understanding plurals and verb tenses
  • Understanding age-appropriate vocabulary and knowledge about objects and sequence of events
  • Knowledge of the goals or functions of language (e.g. to obtain a desired object, tell a story, ask questions, comment)
  • Knowledge of how to use language to achieve goals (e.g. appropriately using language to get a desired object)
  • Carrying out cooperative conversations (e.g. perspective-taking and turn-taking)

Receptive Language Books for Kids:

Reading to your child will help with their language development, especially repetitive books with pictures and basic concepts.  Here are a few examples:

Receptive Language Books for Parents

Childhood Speech, Language & Listening Problems: What Every Parent Should Know by Patricia McAleerHamaguchi

The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children With Special Needs, a Guide for Parents and

Teachers by Sue Schwartz

The Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Problems by Debbie Feit

Routines-Based Early Intervention Guidebook  by Bilinguistics, Inc.

Support Groups:

Growing Roots

Inspire Communication Disorders Online Support Group 

Websites for Receptive Language Information:

American Speech and Hearing Association

Voice Nation

Communicating Partners

Late talkers: discussion board online

Children’s disabilities Information

Bridges 4 Kids

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

Language Delay Network



Kaderavek, J.N. (2011) Language Disorders in Children: Fundamental Concepts of Assessment and Intervention, Allyn & Bacon.
Paul, R. (2006) Language Disoders form Infancy through Adolescence.  Assessment and Intervention. Mosby.
Morrisey, B. (2012, May 18). Receptive Language Disorders. Retrieved from

Written by: Scott Prath

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