Writing and communication disorders across the life span

Julie A. Hengst, Cynthia J. Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Viewing writing from the perspective of communication disorders highlights the intersections among physical, physiological, cognitive, linguistic, behavioral, and social dimensions of writing. Broadly, the field distinguishes between communication disorders that are acquired and those that are developmental. Research on acquired communication disorders addresses disruptions brought on by physiological or neurological damage (e.g., stroke, head injury, degenerative neurological diseases, head and neck cancer) and attends primarily to disorders acquired in adults. This research has been dominated by medical models and has focused on differential diagnosis among, and clinical interventions for, particular communication disorders (e.g., dysarthria, aphasia). In contrast, research on developmental communication disorders focuses on disruptions in children’s developing language, learning, and communication abilities, including those with known causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome) and those with as of yet unknown causes (e.g., autism, specific language impairment). Influenced by developmental psychology and education, research on developmental disorders documents deficits relative to typically developing children in early childhood (e.g., delays in attaining developmental milestones such as first words) and during the school years (e.g., delays in grade-level performance). In this chapter, we organize our review of research on writing and communication disorders around these two broad areas, looking first at acquired writing disorders and then at developmental writing disorders. In addition, we briefly review research on textually mediated augmentative and alternative approaches to spoken language for individuals with the most profound communication disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research on Writing
Subtitle of host publicationHistory, Society, School, Individual, Text
EditorsCharles Bazerman
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)1410616479, 9781135251116
ISBN (Print)9780805848700
StatePublished - Jul 4 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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