Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) can be described most simply as a condition in which a person has difficulty with language, talking and/or understanding. At around 7.5%, it equates to two students in every class. Even if you have never heard of it, the chances are you know someone with DLD. These students have always been in our classrooms but there has been great confusion regarding terminology and as a result most students with DLD go unidentified.

  • 60-90% of children and young people experiencing behaviour difficulties have DLD. It is not surprising that incidents occur when a student is not understanding what is going on or cannot explain their side of the story convincingly.
  • 50% of those presenting with dyslexia in mainstream schools have an underlying DLD. A student with reading comprehension difficulties may have DLD.
  • As language is so central to learning in the classroom, there is also a good chance that some students who have been categorised as MLD may in fact have DLD.

Watch out if you have compliant students who rarely talk. A quick screen of their understanding will help work out if they are reluctant talkers or are at risk of DLD. For bilingual or EAL pupils, the language difficulty needs to be in the home language as well as English and so to formally diagnose DLD a bilingual assessment is required. Students with unidentified DLD have very poor outcomes in terms of education, employment and mental health but with the right support they can thrive. If you do have concerns about a particular student, then refer to a speech and language therapist.

In 2017 the terminology confusion was sorted by international consensus and we held the first international Raising Awareness of DLD day. Friday 18th October 2019 is the date this year. To mark the day a number of landmarks around the world will be lit purple, including Niagara Falls. The theme this year is ‘DLD: you and me’ and so we will be collecting the stories, both written and videoed, of children and young people with DLD and their families. At a local level we are encouraging staff teams to host events such as talks, information stalls, cake bakes and staff meetings. And if you want to lead in your local area then you can volunteer to be a RADLD Ambassador.

4 ways to raise awareness of DLD this year

Learn more about DLD:

Keep up to date with this year’s campaign: on Facebook @radld on Twitter

Become a DLD Ambassador:

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