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Speech-Language Services

Adult Language and Cognitive Communication

Language and cognitive disorders

Adults with a communication disorders may struggle understanding spoken and written language or formulating language to express their thoughts into words and sentences. Adults with cognitive disorders may be able to use language, however, have difficulty with memory, attention, problem solving that effects their ability to manage their everyday tasks.



Aphasia is a language disorder among the adult population that occurs following damage to the areas of the brain that control language. A person with aphasia may have difficulty formulating words and sentences to express themselves, understanding what others say, or reading and writing in everyday life.

Aphasia is most commonly caused by a stroke, although it may occur following a brain tumor, traumatic brain injury, or a worsening brain disorder.

Cognitive-communicative disorders

A cognitive-communication impairment is caused by an underlying cognitive deficit, as opposed to a speech and language deficit. This impairment can lead to difficulty with aspects of cognition such as attention, memory, organization, problem-solving and reasoning, processing speed, language, and executive function. A cognitive-communication disorder can affect many aspects of a person’s life, in a variety of ways. Activities of daily living that were once manageable and automatic, may be more challenging.

More specifically, a person with a suspected or confirmed cognitive-communication disorder may show reduced awareness and ability to appropriately communicate his or her needs to other people. A person with difficulty in this area may also show a decrease in awareness of his or her impairment and how it has affected communication. Memory and judgement may also be impacted in a person with a cognitive-communication disorder, and experiences and conversations shared with others may be easily forgotten. Social communication difficulty and the ability to control ones’ emotions are other possible symptoms of a cognitive-communication impairment.

While there are a number of etiologies associated with a cognitive-communication impairment, most concerns arise following brain tumors, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, or other degenerative diseases.

Assessment and treatment

At the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic, treatment for language disorders is carried out by highly-skilled speech-language pathologists and graduate student clinicians. Therapy will include unique, specialized treatment depending upon each clients’ individual needs.  Treatment may include individual and/or group sessions to target receptive and expressive language, cognitive impairments and functional communication. Treatment for language disorders may also incorporate the use of assistive technology, if appropriate, to aid a person in expressing his or her thoughts, wants, and needs through an alternative form.

How can a speech-language pathologist help?

Speech-language pathologists at Illinois State University can provide resources and intervention services at the individual and group level to persons affected with a cognitive-communication impairment. Here, evaluation and treatment are aimed at rehabilitating and strengthening areas of the brain that have impacted cognitive function and communication.


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