Is Cognitive-Communication Deficit an Intellectual Disability?

Is Cognitive-Communication Deficit an Intellectual Disability?

What is a Cognitive Deficit?

The term ‘Cognitive Deficit’ refers to a general impairment of cognition. Cognition is defined as the mental process of understanding and acquiring language through thought, the senses, and experience. A cognitive deficit or deficiency is not limited to a specific condition or disease but it is often a symptom of an underlying condition. A cognitive deficit can be a temporary or a permanent condition.

Cognitive deficits are also commonly referred to as intellectual disabilities or cognitive disabilities and they can be present from birth, or they can be the result of external causes such as mental illness, brain damage due to an accident, or neurological differences. The good news is that the brain actually possesses the ability to adapt, heal and rewire itself as a result of these challenges through a phenomenon that is referred to as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity works by strengthening the existing neural pathways in the brain, as well as creating new ones. This phenomenon is best activated through frequent and high repetition of various exercises. Participating in cognitive speech therapy, therefore, is essential when it comes to helping the brain to heal and become stronger, with the ultimate goal of restoring function and optimizing cognition. 

Some of the most important intellectual functions related to cognition are:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Understanding
  • Planning
  • Perception
  • Knowledge
  • Decision-making
  • Judgment
  • Reasoning
  • Language
  • Visuospatial Function

A cognitive deficit can result in significant effects on an individual’s ability to communicate with others using speech and language. Working with a specialized speech therapist can be incredibly beneficial for someone with a cognitive deficit. Getting started with speech therapy is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call today! 

Is Cognitive Deficit a Disability?

In general terms, a cognitive deficit is classified as a disability and can encompass a wide variety of medical and cognitive conditions that affect basic cognitive function and ability. In some cases, a cognitive deficit may be so mild that it does not meet the criteria to be officially classified as a disability, and in turn, may mean that the individual does not qualify for disability benefits and access to certain resources. 

What Are Examples of Cognitive Deficits?

Some Examples of Cognitive Deficits are:

  • Difficulty with Short and Long-Term Memory
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Difficulty Executing Daily Activities and Functions
  • Trouble Learning New Skills and Retaining New Information
  • Challenges Related to Word Retrieval and Expressing Oneself with Language
  • Difficulty Comprehending Written or Spoken Language 
  • Difficulties Related to Distinguishing Between Various Locations and People
  • Vision Problems
  • Increased Instances of Agitation and Drastic Mood Swings

What Causes Cognitive Deficits?

The cause of a cognitive deficit can be a variety of things. In some cases, a cognitive deficit is the result of an abnormality in brain development or exposure to toxins during pregnancy such as narcotics or alcohol. In other cases, there is a genetic factor that contributes to a cognitive deficit. Cognitive deficits can also be the result of trauma to the brain from an injury, stroke, or other neurological conditions. 

How Do Cognitive Deficits Affect Speech and Language?

Cognitive deficits can affect functioning in a wide variety of ways and vary greatly between individuals. For some, a cognitive deficit may result in a cognitive-communication deficit or a cognitive-linguistic impairment. A cognitive-linguistic impairment can affect such things as attention and focus, memory, problem-solving, and interpretive language, all of which can have significant effects on communication abilities. 

A cognitive deficit affects communication differently than a speech and language deficit. With a cognitive deficit, the individual may struggle with social language skills, paying attention when conversing or being spoken to, reasoning and judgment abilities, and short and long-term memory. They may also struggle with thought organization, executive functioning, orientation, processing speed, and perception. These challenges can affect communication because the individual may not be able to properly interpret information and language, and they in turn may struggle to effectively communicate and express their own thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. Get help for yourself or a loved one, so that communicating your thoughts and feelings comes with ease. Speech therapy is available now, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

How Can Speech Therapy Help with Cognitive Communication Deficit?

When addressing communication concerns related to a cognitive deficit, Speech-Language Therapists are incredibly valuable and a great place to start. 

Because cognitive function and communication skills are essential elements of the mental processes that are required for executing speech and language, getting support for someone who is struggling is vitally important. Speech production is an especially complex communication skill set that not only includes the ability to form words and produce sounds with the mouth, it also involves the ability to process and comprehend various types of information and form an appropriate response. 

Speech Therapy for a cognitive deficit typically focuses on the development of functional cognitive-linguistic skills that fit the daily needs of the individual.  For example, in order to improve attention and focus abilities, the speech therapist may recommend that the individual listen to the news on the radio and then paraphrase the information they received. Improving memory skills might include posting written calendars, schedules, and routines around their home. A pragmatic exercise might involve practicing patience, listening, and turn-taking by playing a game or engaging in conversation.  

Cognitive speech therapy is also commonly referred to as cognitive-communication therapy. This type of speech therapy is designed to work with the individual in order to help them to improve their communication skills and ultimately restore cognitive function.

When the areas of the brain that are responsible for speech and language production become impaired or sustain an injury, many of the neural pathways can also become damaged or destroyed. Through neuroplasticity and participation in cognitive speech therapy, these pathways can again begin to heal and become stronger. Frequent speech therapy appointments work simply because the more you practice and strengthen these skills, the better the chances are of regaining your cognitive and improving communication skills. Get support for yourself or a loved one by scheduling your free introductory call today!