Better Care

What is Developmental Language Disorder?

  1. Developmental Language Disorder  (DLD) means that you have significant, on-going difficulties understanding and/or using spoken language, in all the languages you use. DLD was previously known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI)

  2. There is no known cause of DLD that can make it hard to explain. DLD is not caused by emotional difficulties or limited exposure to language.

  3. A child or young person with DLD may also have other difficulties, such as, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia and / or speech sound difficulties.

  4.  DLD is not caused by other medical conditions, such as, hearing loss, physical impairment, Autism, severe learning difficulties or brain injuries. However, these children and young people with these difficulties may also have a Language Disorder.

Please click here to visit the DLD YouTube account 

DLD Family

Useful Websites - Useful information as well as a progress checker if you are concerned about your child’s development. - Support and information for children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs and their families. - Free books to download and lots of other free information as well as resources you can buy. - provide ideas, top tips and suggestions for working on all sorts of different speech and language difficulties. - Information about developing language

What signs may a child/young person with DLD show?

  1. They may not talk as much and find it difficult to express themselves verbally.
  2. Their language may sound immature for their age.
  3. They may struggle to find words or to use varied vocabulary.
  4. They may not understand, or remember, what has been said.
  5. Older children may have difficulties reading and using written language
Remember: Language difficulties may also underlie behaviour issues such as anxiety or misbehaving in class

DLD looks different in each individual child. The child’s specific difficulties can also change as they get older and need to develop more complex skills.

How will this affect my child?

  1. DLD is a long term condition that can have a big impact on a child/young person’s learning and achievement at school.
  2. Children with DLD are at risk of reading difficulties when they reach school age.
  3. Sometimes DLD can affect children’s social interaction skills and their
  4. Ability to make and keep friends.
  5. Children with DLD often learn and understand better through visual and /or practical methods, rather than verbal methods. For example they would understand a story better if they watched it being acted out and drew it rather than being told verbally.

How can you support your child at home?

  1. Get your child’s attentionsay their name before  listen
  2. Ensure your child can see your face to support their attention and listening
  3. Use simple language and repeat if necessary to support memory and provide as many opportunities for them to hear, see and use words
  4. Talk calmly and slowly to support their ability to process words
  5. Give your child more time to respond to help them process information
  6. Use of symbols – provide a picture and/or use gestures to represent new words or concepts to support their understanding visually
  7. Encourage your child to communicate with you however they can, accept gesture, pointing, facial expression
  8. Check they have understood instructions or new information
  9. Help them learn skills to join in with other children. For example, playing games at home to support turn taking and listening to others

The Role of Speech and Language Therapy

With their knowledge and expertise in speech, language and communication, speech and language therapists have a crucial role to play in the diagnosis and management of DLD. This includes providing direct therapy to people with DLD who need it, tailored to their individual needs.

It also includes supporting their families and through multidisciplinary team working, supporting professionals who work with people with DLD to recognise and respond appropriately to their difficulties.

  1. Identifying and diagnosing DLD and those at risk of it
  2. Devising and delivering needs-led programmes of individual or small group therapy
  3. Overseeing therapy programmes delivered by others, including ensuring that individuals are adequately trained and supported and progress is regularly monitored
  4. Supporting people with DLD, their families and those who work with them, including to understand their diagnosis and how it can impact their lives, so they can respond appropriately and advocate for themselves
  5. Supporting schools to integrate strategies into the curriculum in order to foster children’s language learning and use

Maximising communication potential by skilling others in the use of facilitative strategies and / or use of augmentative communication aids Comprehensive assessments are needed to identify how DLD is affecting an individual’s:

  1. Communication
  2. Social Participation
  3. Well being
  4. Learning

Regular monitoring of progress and modifications to management is required to identify needs at each stage in development, and particularly at transition points – for example from nursery to primary school, from primary to secondary school and from secondary to post – 16 provision.

The aim of speech and language therapy is to:

  1.  Develop the language abilities of people with DLD to their maximum potential
  2. Teach people with DLD and those around them strategies to reduce the impact of their difficulties on communication and their access to education, employment, public services and social activities

Speech and Language Therapy helps people with DLD to maximise their language potential. This helps to reduce some of the negative consequences of their disorder.