Receptive problems

How we can help people with receptive problems

A receptive problem is when a person’s comprehension and understanding is compromised. This can be caused by many different things and is often coupled with expressive language problems or delay. The lack of understanding can relate to the understanding of words, structure of sentences and concepts.

Speech and language therapy can help to improve and support an individual's understanding, maximising their communication to their highest potential.

What are receptive problems?

Receptive problems occur when someone has difficulty understanding language, this can be either written or spoken language. Receptive problems usually occur from a young age, and comprehension usually develops before expression. However, adults can suffer from receptive problems; this is usually a result of damage to the brain. This can be caused by a brain tumour, infection or after a stroke. The damage usually affects the left side of the brain, which is responsible for language. Different aspects of communication are affected depending on which part of the brain has been damaged and to what extent.

People who have a receptive problem may get extremely frustrated. Speech and language therapists work with patients and their families to try and work through some of these frustrations and to improve methods for communication and help with understanding.

What causes receptive problems?

There are many different causes of receptive language problems, and symptoms can vary depending on each individual. A stroke is the most common cause of receptive problems in adults. A stroke happens after there is lack of oxygen to the brain and is caused by bleeding or a blood clot in the brain.

Receptive problems can also be caused by trauma to the brain; this can be through injury, tumour, haemorrhage or hematoma. Severity depends upon the extent of injury to the brain and the amount of time the brain has been subjected to lack of oxygen. Damage is usually sustained in the left side of the brain.

Common conditions causing receptive problems in adults include:

What problems caused by receptive problems can SLT UK help with?

Speech and language therapy is extremely beneficial for people suffering from problems associated with receptive problems. A speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment and will focus on one or more area of language, depending upon each individual’s ability and preference. Speech and language therapy can help comprehension, expressive, speech sound and general communication problems cause by receptive language problems.

How does speech and language therapy help receptive problems?

Speech and language therapy can help and support individuals who suffer from receptive problems in many different ways. Ideally speech and language therapy would begin as soon as possible after the patient has been diagnosed.

Speech and language therapy helps by providing different techniques to overcome and manage the effects of a receptive problem. Speech and language therapy includes exercises for reading, writing, repetitive speech patterns and direction following. A speech and language therapist may use the aid of computer assessment as well as standard measures, depending upon the patient’s level of disorder. Speech and language therapy is always tailored to each individual.

Speech and language therapy can be extremely beneficial for an individual with receptive problems, speech and language therapy may reduce a patient's stress and anxiety whilst increasing their confidence. This may open up more work and social opportunities for the individual as their language and communication continues to improve and strategies to communicate develop.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for receptive problems involve?

Speech and language therapy for receptive problems can include assessments, reports, reviews, therapy programmes, support groups, training, advice and education.

Specific treatments which can help individuals with receptive problems include:


An individual may have receptive problems for a number of reasons associated with trauma to the brain. This will affect their output of language and communication. People may have one or the other or experience both forms. It will depend upon the severity of the brain damage as to how affected a person’s communication is.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email or call 0330 088 5643.

Related pages

Communication problems Comprehension problems Expressive problems Receptive problems Processing problems Production problems
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