Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Awareness Day

Friday the 15th of October is Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day.

Even if you’ve never heard of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), you probably know someone with it. DLD is very common, and on average 2 children in every class of 30 have the condition. DLD is when a person has difficulty talking and understanding spoken language. Spoken words and sentences are challenging for people with DLD. DLD impacts learning, reading, writing, social relationships and wellbeing so it is especially important that teachers know about it. By knowing a bit more about DLD you can really have a huge impact on a child or young person’s life. When you see a child or young person struggling, think about language, and think could it be Developmental Language Disorder.

If you are raising an XXY child or perhaps you are an Adult XXY who feels traditional neurological labels of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia etc, fail to properly describe the difficulties you or your child is experiencing, then we invite you to learn more about the differences between them and DLD.

Awareness is nine-tenths of any solution and so we ask that you please share this throughout your networks.

Categories DLD

Developmental Language Disorder and Mental Health

Will every person diagnosed with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) struggle with their mental health?

How do you support a loved one with mental health challenges?

What do health professionals and educators need to know about working with people with DLD who also have mental health issues?

In this very practical episode of The Talking DLD Podcast we are talking Developmental Language Disorder and mental health with Melanie Cross, speech and language therapist.

Melanie Cross is a speech and language therapist. She has worked with children and young people with mental health needs for many years. She is the author of ‘Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties and Communication Problems’ , 2nd edition. She is also an Advisor on child mental health, and she was lead author of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapist’s Clinical Guidelines on Social Emotional and Mental Health. Melanie graduated from Reading University in 1984 and gained an MPhil in undetected communication problems in children looked after by the local authority in 2001. In 2017 she became a Fellow of the Higher Education Teaching Academy. She is also a trainer, supervisor and a Video Interaction Guider.

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How We Fail Children With Developmental Language Disorder

Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that emerges in early childhood and frequently persists into adulthood. People with DLD have significant difficulty learning, understanding, and using spoken language. Under U.S. Public Law 101-476 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], 2004; first issued in 1990 and reissued in 2004), children may be eligible for school-based services, typically under the category “speech-language impairment,” if their DLD affects educational performance and requires specially designed support. DLD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. With an estimated prevalence of 7.58% (Norbury et al., 2016; see also Tomblin et al., 1997), it is nearly 7 times more common than autism spectrum disorder (ASD; prevalence = 1.1%; Brugha et al., 2012) and 46 times more common than permanent childhood hearing impairment (prevalence = 0.165%; Fortnum et al., 2001).

As a population, people with DLD face significant risks. Compared to other students, those with DLD are 6 times more likely to have reading disabilities, 6 times more likely to have significant spelling problems, 4 times more likely to struggle with math, and 12 times more likely to face all three of these difficulties combined (Young et al., 2002). People who have DLD are 6 times more likely than others to experience clinical levels of anxiety and 3 times more likely to have clinical depression (Conti-Ramsden & Botting, 2008). Girls with DLD are 3 times more likely to experience sexual abuse (Brownlie et al., 2007). Boys with DLD are 4 times more likely to engage in delinquent behavior (Brownlie et al., 2004). Adults with DLD are twice more likely to go over a year without employment than other adults (Law et al., 2009).

Without a doubt, DLD is a common condition that limits the health, happiness, and success of many who live with it. Nevertheless, people with DLD are underserved, and the condition itself is under-researched. The reasons are complicated, but the consequences of continued failure are dire. This clinical focus article is a call to action. I will provide evidence to demonstrate the ways that we, as a profession, are failing children with DLD; explore the reasons for these failures; and encourage change. The institutions and policies that dictate, support, or constrain clinical services and research efforts vary widely from country to country. This review is admittedly United States–centric, with some attention paid to the United Kingdom as well, but it is my hope that some of the points raised here are universally relevant.

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What are the Differences Between Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Neurodevelopmental conditions is a name doctors and scientists give to differences from the expected brain and behaviour development during childhood.  There are many ways that brain development can be different. One of the most well known neurodevelopmental conditions is autism, which has some similarities with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), but also some important differences.

Autism is a broad term that includes a wide variety of challenges, but people with this neurodevelopmental condition all share the following two traits:

Challenges with Social Communication can range from being unable to speak and/or understand language, to difficulty reading body language and facial expressions and understanding what others are thinking and feeling.

Repetitive Behaviours and Restricted Interests can range from self-harm such as banging one’s head or biting one’s hands to less severe behaviours like hand flapping or rocking back and forth.  Restricted interests in autism often look like obsessions or fixations on certain kinds of objects or themes. It can be difficult for individuals to change from one activity to another.

DLD Awareness Day 18 October 2019

Individuals with DLD, like individuals with autism, struggle with social communication. In DLD, these challenges relate mostly to expressing one’s thoughts and comprehending what others are saying, while in autism the problems tend to go beyond just language and extend to difficulty understanding the meaning behind a person’s facial expression or body language.

Patterns of restricted interests and repetitive behaviours, as described above, are specific to autism and are not a characteristic of DLD.

​Children with autism often have other serious medical conditions, such as seizures, digestive system problems, or sleep disorders.  These additional medical problems make it more likely for children with ASD to see a medical provider, which in turn makes diagnosis more likely.  In contrast, children with DLD might not have any other obvious medical conditions that would make diagnosis by a professional more likely, which is part of the reason that DLD can often go unrecognised.​

​Finally, although autism receives more attention in the public consciousness, DLD is far more common than autism.  The latest studies show that almost 2% of children have autism, while more than three times as many (about 7%) have DLD.​

Additional resources from around the world, if your country is not listed and you are aware of an organisation that should be included, then please bring it to our attention and we will add it.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) | Orthophonie et Audiologie Canada (OAC)

Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists

New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Speech Pathology Australia

The St. John Aphasia Support Group

American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology

Federazione Logopedisti Italiani

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