Signs and Symptoms of a Language-Learning Disability

Signs and Symptoms of a Language-Learning Disability

Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center Parent Tip of the Week

By Michelle Foye MA CCC-SLP, Director of Speech-Language and
Learning Services at 
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

If your child has difficulty with any of the signs and symptoms listed below, a language learning evaluation conducted by a speech-language pathologist is recommended.

  • Reads slowly and painfully
  • Shows wide disparity between listening comprehension and reading comprehension of some text; that is, they understand if someone tells them
  • Has trouble with spelling
  • May have difficulty with handwriting
  • Exhibits difficulty recalling known words
  • Has difficulty with written language
  • May experience difficulty with math computations
  • Decoding (sounding out) real words is better than sounding out nonsense words
  • Substitutes one small sight word for another: a, I, he, the, there, was

What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

What happens during a language-learning evaluation?
Cleveland hearing & Speech Center offers language-learning evaluations conducted by a speech-language pathologist. An evaluation involves gathering information from a variety of sources about a child’s functioning and development in all areas. It is generally one of the first steps in determining if a child has a language-learning disability. Any information you can provide about your child will be helpful in the evaluation process.

Possible helpful information:

  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  • Multi-Factored Evaluation (MFE)
  • Psychological/IQ Testing
  • Previous Language Testing Results

During an evaluation, your child’s speech, language, memory, vocabulary, reading, writing and comprehension skills will be evaluated. This evaluation will take approximately three hrs. After the evaluation, the speech-language pathologist will discuss the finding and be able to recommend the appropriate next step(s). You will receive a copy of the detailed report describing the results and recommendations.

What types of therapy are available?
Therapy may be recommended to address needs in oral language and/or written language skills. The SLP may suggest individual or group therapy sessions, depending on your child’s needs. Several strategies are combined to help your child build vocabulary, learn to sound out words, understand the meanings of words, understand what is read and learn how to spell. Our SLPs often employ strategies from the Wilson Reading System to address these needs.

Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center currently employs four speech-language pathologists with Level 1 Wilson Reading System Certification. This means that the SLPs have completed a nearly year-long training experience using the Wilson Reading System, under the supervision of an experienced Wilson trainer. They have attended workshops and meetings to discuss appropriate use of the program.

Therapy is conducted on an individualized basis after an appropriate evaluation has been completed. Group or individual therapy is offered. Therapy can range from one to three times per week for 30-90 minutes.

For more information, contact Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center at 216-231-8787 or visit

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