How Learning Disabilities Cause Communication Disorders

Written by angela tung
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How Learning Disabilities Cause Communication Disorders
Several types of learning disabilities can cause communication disorders, each in its own way. (barrier and silence image by Oleg Mitiukhin from

People with communication disorders have difficulty exchanging information with others, says the Council for Exceptional Children. The disorders may lie in speaking, hearing, reading or writing. They may have several possible causes, such as genetically based differences in brain structure, oral-motor difficulties, damage from a stroke or other brain injury, or a learning disability. Learning disabilities and communication disorders are closely linked.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), says the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is a common childhood disorder that can continue into adulthood. People with ADHD have difficulty remaining focused, paying attention and controlling their behaviour. They may also be hyperactive. While these behaviours may be common in many children, they are much more severe in those with ADHD.

ADHD may cause communication problems in speech, writing and reading. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness may cause people with ADHD to have trouble holding conversations and completing reading and written assignments.


Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children, the Mayo Clinic says. While someone with dyslexia may have normal vision and intelligence, his brain may have trouble translating written images from the eyes into meaningful language. The cause seems to be a genetic malfunction in the parts of the brain that control language.

Dyslexia most affects communication in reading and writing. If not treated, dyslexia may lead to low self-esteem and behavioural problems.


Dysgraphia can cause communication disorders involving writing, such as problems with spelling, handwriting, and putting thoughts onto paper, according to Learning Disabilities Online. Someone with dysgraphia has a tight and awkward pencil grip, and handwriting that's illegible, tiny and cramped. They may tire quickly while writing, say words aloud while writing, and have a large gap between writing and speaking abilities.

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) is less common, affecting about 5 per cent of children, KidsHealth says. People with APD have trouble recognising and interpreting sounds, especially speech and the subtle differences between words when there is background noise. Because people with ADP have normal hearing, it's thought that a part of the brain has trouble translating speech received by the ears.

People with untreated APD may develop communication disorders such as language delays.

Expressive and Receptive Language Disorders

People with expressive language disorder have a lower than normal ability in vocabulary, making complex sentences and remembering words, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), thus causing communication disorders with speech. At the same time, people with this disorder may have no problem understanding others' speech or with reading.

People with receptive language disorder have trouble understanding speech, and often also have expressive language disorder. People with both have what's called mixed receptive-expressive language disorder.

Expressive, receptive and mixed receptive-expressive language disorders may be caused by injury to the brain, malnutrition or genetic factors.

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