What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?

A language-based learning disability is a broad disability of language and communication, reading and writing. Learn the signs and effects of LBLD, on HealthyPlace.

Language-based learning disability (LBLD) is a learning disorder that, at its most fundamental level, involves impaired language abilities. A lack of language skills interrupts communication and comprehension. Communication and understanding form the base of learning and school life in general. Beyond this, the ability to read, analyze, and communicate ideas are essential to life outside of the classroom as well. If a child has a language-based learning disability, they risk struggling in school and beyond.

A language learning disability impacts reading skills and communication skills because it impedes crucial skills and functions that are necessary for language development, such as:

  • Memory
  • Concentration and attention
  • Auditory and visual perception and processing
  • Understanding the patterns of language
  • Executive functioning (planning, self-regulation, and other higher-order functions)

A more in-depth exploration of what a language-based learning disability is will help clarify the meaning of this very broad learning disability.

What, Exactly, Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?

This learning disorder encompasses a spectrum of problems around spoken and written language. It’s considered a spectrum because it has a such a wide range of effects and affects kids very differently, including specific areas of disability and degrees of severity. This could be a reading learning disability like dyslexia, or it could create other communication and comprehension problems.

While all kids with LBLD have language acquisition, use, and expression difficulties, the disability is individualized. No two children are the same with identical learning problems. With unique problem areas, each child falls somewhere on the spectrum of having just a few symptoms and effects to having numerous challenges. Also, a child’s learning disability could range from mild to severe or anywhere in between.

One of the biggest indicators of having any learning disability, including language-based learning disability, is the discrepancy a child has between their aptitude and their performance. For a child with language-based learning disability, their intelligence and academic potential are at least average and often above average; however, their performance on reading, writing, and communication tasks can be quite far below average. Understandably, this can be upsetting for a child and parents, too.

Understanding how LBLD impedes learning can help you know what skills your child needs help with.

Language-Based Learning Disability’s Effects on Learning

Language-based learning disability can create problems in many areas of learning and functioning. Kids with the disability may experience difficulties like:

  • Expressing thoughts and ideas
  • Forgetting names of common objects
  • Forgetting names of people close to them
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Sequencing problems, like the ability to string together events to tell as story
  • Forming sentences, verbally or in writing
  • Making grammatical errors
  • Putting letters and words in alphabetical order
  • Inability to sound out new words
  • Reading deficiencies involving decoding words
  • Reading deficiencies involving understanding what is read or what is heard
  • Reding deficiencies involving talking or writing about what they’ve read
  • Listening attentively and comprehending
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Organizing
  • Remembering/recalling
  • Self-regulating
  • Perseverance
  • Following directions
  • Making requests

LBLD can directly impact social skills, too. Often, kids with this disability don’t maintain eye contact, don’t understand how to take turns in conversations, and have a hard time staying on one topic. This can cause them to be left out, isolated, and hurt.

Take some time determining exactly how language-based learning disability affects your child. Observe them at home, and talk to their teacher about which skills create the most difficulty and which ones aren’t an issue. Knowing your child’s areas of strengths and weaknesses will help you know how to help them. Emphasize their strengths and identify a few areas that are bothering your child the most. Start skill-building there.

What about speech problems? Should you worry about those?

Language-Based Learning Disorder vs Speech Disorder

The impact of a language-based learning disability is far-reaching because language encompasses so much of learning and living. Because this language learning disability involves communication, many people wonder if it is also a speech disorder.

While LBLD does involve verbal communication problems, it is drastically different from a speech disorder. Speech disorders involve the production of sound and the physical movements of the tongue, lips, jaw, and vocal tract. LBLD, on the other hand, involves the understanding and use of written and spoken language. Speech disorders are mechanical, while a language-based learning disability is related to use and processing.

A language-based learning disability is very broad, yet it can be simplified. All LBLDs affect language acquisition, comprehension, and communication. It is useful to know the specific effects so you can coordinate with your child’s teacher to create and follow a plan that helps them gain the necessary skills for learning and success ("What’s an Individualized Education Program? Who Needs One?").

See Also:

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 17). What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 13 from

Last Updated: January 17, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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