We have been asked a lot of questions about Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) recently, so our super therapist Rachel has put together some information that might be useful.

What is DLD?

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a term that is used to describe difficulties with learning and using language. This will be long term, but that is not associated with other conditions, such as cerebral palsy or autistic spectrum condition.

In the past DLD was known as specific language impairment (SLI) but the name has changed so that it better reflects the types of difficulties children have. (I CAN, TalkingPoint)

DLD looks different in each child and can be complicated to understand because we don’t really know the cause. The child’s specific difficulties can also change as they get older and need to develop more complex skills.

Studies have shown that in five year olds, DLD affects about two children in every classroom (about 7.6%). This is more common than autistic spectrum condition.

A child or young person with DLD may talk less than their peers. The language they use may sound immature for their age and they may have difficulty putting a sentence together. They may not understand or remember what has been said to them and can have difficulties in telling stories. Language difficulties may also be misinterpreted as behavioural issues such as anxiety or misbehaving in class. Children with DLD can mask their difficulties by copying their peers and picking up cues from their environment and routines.

The important thing to remember about DLD is that children respond very well to SLT intervention.

Do we diagnose DLD?

A child can be diagnosed with DLD if their language difficulties are likely to carry on into adulthood, have a significant impact on progress at school, or on everyday life and are unlikely to catch up without help. For a diagnosis of DLD a child must have language difficulties that persist into school age and beyond. The features of DLD will vary with age but almost always children will have difficulty understanding spoken language. They may also have difficulties putting their thoughts into words and sentences.

Identifying those who have DLD should be based on a combination of case history, formal and informal language assessments, comprehensive observation, response to interventions and consideration of risk. An individual’s needs will change over time depending on the demands placed on the individual. Therefore, it is desirable to consider ongoing assessment and monitoring in response to input as part of dynamic assessment as well as the changing priorities for the individual. Ongoing discussion with parents, families and schools will enable a holistic and functional approach to meet the needs for the individual.

Treating DLD

Children with DLD won’t just ‘pick up’ language – they will need to be taught language skills in a special way. They can do well, but will need the right support in order to reach their full potential. We can work together with school, parents and families to support the individual using a small step by step approach to reach their goals and aspirations.

  • We will identify, assess and diagnose communication difficulties.
  • Provide therapy, make recommendations, and provide programmes and resources to support children with DLD.
  • Aid school staff in the use of classroom strategies to support children with DLD.
  • Deliver training on how to support children with DLD.
  • Provide advice and support to parents of children with DLD following a diagnosis.

We’re here and ready to help!

If you think your child might have DLD and would like to talk to Rachel about how we can help, please contact us by sending us a direct message (DM) or contacting Sian (our Office Manager) by emailing her at sian@thetalkinghouse.co.uk or calling her on 01937 843122.

We're here and ready to help!

If your child needs help with their speech, language or communication or you’re a school that would like to discuss how we could help by providing an SLT service – we’d love to here from you!

Get in touch to hear how we can help

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