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What is Receptive Language Disorder?

My granddaughter has been diagnosed with receptive language disorder. Can you give me information about this? Are there any supplements that can help?

Answer (Published 5/2/2008)

Receptive language disorder (also called mixed receptive language disorder) is a learning disability which can affect the understanding or the expression of language or both. It occurs among three to five percent of all children. No one knows the cause, although genetic factors may be responsible along with brain injury and, in some cases, malnutrition.

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Affected children may have trouble following spoken directions. (When they get older, you may have to give them written directions.) They may also have problems in social settings if they can't process what is being said or express themselves normally. This diagnosis isn't in any way related to a child's intelligence. In fact, these youngsters often have above-average IQ'S.

Mixed receptive language disorder can be treated with speech and language therapy. Some kids may also need psychotherapy to deal with emotional or behavioral problems resulting from their inability to understand language and express themselves.

In addition, I would recommend giving them omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in normal brain development and function. My colleague Sandy Newmark, M.D., a pediatrician, advises that the correct dose of fish oil is 15-20 mg per pound of a child's body weight. Nordic Naturals makes a liquid product that can be measured out in the correct dose. Dr. Newmark also suggests making sure that that affected children get plenty of antioxidant vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. Many pediatricians recommend that you don't give youngsters supplements until they've reached the age of four, but then you could consider a good multivitamin containing antioxidants to supplement what kids get from their diets.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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