Verbal reasoning is a person’s ability to use language to think more deeply about the world around them. It involves listening or reading, thinking about the words that are heard or read, and acting on them in ways that make sense in that context. This ability is closely tied to how successful we are in navigating our world, since almost everything we do involves communicating our thoughts in words and sentences (however we choose to take them in or express them).

Verbal reasoning is considered a part of “higher-level” language processing. It involves the ability to think about verbal information beyond the information itself. Therefore, it is something that usually begins to develop later, between 4-6 years old and becomes an important piece of all aspects of academic curricula (including math). It also continues to develop well into adulthood, helped by brain development itself as well as experiences.

So what happens when verbal reasoning is affected, either due to delays in development or a brain injury? Very simply put, the way that people interact with their environments don’t make sense to others. It could be something as harmless as a 3rd grader who isn’t able to piece together a sequence of pictures to tell a story. Or it could be an adult who is unable to think about or solve everyday problems encountered while communicating with people.

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with kids or adults who have problems with verbal reasoning. If you have a concern with a loved one, make a referral right away. SLPs are well-trained to assess and treat problems with verbal reasoning and provide creative strategies to help navigate this complicated world of ours.

This video shows how a brain injury affects language skills and ways that a SLP can help.