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What are cognitive communication disorders?



Defining Cognitive Communication Disorders



Cognitive communication disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to process and understand language, memory, attention, and executive functioning. These disorders can result from a traumatic brain injury, stroke, hereditary/genetic diseases, or other neurological conditions.


Language processing is a complex process that involves the reception, interpretation, and production of linguistic information. When this process is disrupted, it can result in a range of communication difficulties.


Memory impairment is another component of cognitive communication disorders. People with these conditions often struggle to recall important information or to retrieve memories that were previously stored in their brain.


Attention is another crucial aspect of cognitive functioning that can be affected by cognitive communication disorders. Attention deficits can result in fatigue, distractibility, and decreased productivity.


Executive functioning is a term used to describe a group of cognitive processes that help individuals plan, organize, and execute tasks. Executive dysfunction is a common feature of cognitive communication disorders.




Recognizing Cognitive Communication Disorders



The diagnosis of cognitive communication disorders is typically made by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) or neurologist. The assessment process may include a comprehensive evaluation of communication and cognitive skills, including a detailed medical and neurological history, a physical examination, and a series of cognitive and language tests.


Signs and symptoms of cognitive communication disorders may look like:


  • Language processing

    • Difficulty understanding spoken language

    • Difficulty with word-finding

    • Trouble generating coherent speech


  • Memory

    • Difficulty completing tasks

    • Difficulty following instructions

    • Difficulty engaging in conversation


  • Attention

    • Difficulty focusing attention on a task

    • Difficulty following through on instructions

    • Difficulty maintaining focus for an extended period of time


  • Executive functioning

    • Difficulty initiating and completing tasks

    • Poor decision-making

    • Difficulty adapting to changes in routine



Treating Cognitive Communication Disorders



Treatment for cognitive communication disorders typically involves a combination of therapy, rehabilitation, and medication. The specific treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause of the disorder, as well as specific symptoms and needs.


Speech-language therapy is a common treatment for cognitive communication disorders. Therapy focuses on improving communication skills, including language processing, memory, and attention. It may also involve strategies to help compensate for any cognitive difficulties, such as using mnemonic devices to help improve memory recall or using visual aids to help improve attention.


In addition to speech therapy, rehabilitation is another important aspect of treatment for cognitive communication disorders. This may involve physical, occupational, or cognitive rehabilitation, depending on the specific needs of the individual. For example, physical rehab may help an individual recover from a traumatic brain injury, while cognitive rehab may focus on improving attention and executive functioning skills. Medication may also be used to manage the symptoms of cognitive communication disorders. Some drugs can improve memory and attention, and other medications may help manage any underlying medical conditions.


Living with a cognitive communication disorder can be challenging, but with the right support and treatment, many people are able to make significant improvements in their communication and cognitive skills.


It is important for individuals with cognitive communication disorders to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. This may involve regular therapy sessions, rehabilitation, and medication management, as well as lifestyle modifications, such as reducing stress and engaging in physical activity.




If you have more questions about cognitive communication disorders or suspect your child might have one, reach out to the Magic Speech Bus and I’d be happy to see how I can help you!


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