A condition affecting an average of two children in every classroom will be the focus of International Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Awareness Day today.
Without diagnosis and support, the condition is likely to continue into middle childhood and beyond, impacting education and social interactions, which is where early intervention plays a pivotal role.
Speech Pathology Australia is one of the organisations driving an awareness campaign to show the real difference these professionals can make to the lives of children with DLD.
National President of Speech Pathology Australia, Gaenor Dixon says raising awareness of the condition is critical.
“With increasing awareness and recognition of DLD, children affected should be able to access the speech pathology support they need.”
Last year DLD was coined the acceptable term for language difficulties where no other influencing condition, such as Autism spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome or Fragile X, is present.
“DLD has in the past been referred to as ‘specific language impairment’, ‘language disorder,’ ‘developmental language impairment’, ‘developmental language disorder,’ or some other name, which has often caused confusion,” Ms Dixon says.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Children and Young People with Disability Australia, Stephanie Gotlib says the international awareness day is as an important way of raising awareness of language disorders.
“It is vital that young children who have these conditions receive the necessary early intervention,” she says.
“Further that children and young people continue to have access to services and supports needed throughout their childhood and throughout their lives.”
Ms Gotlib also highlights the importance of accessing information and support, early.
“Families of children with disability frequently acknowledge how critical information, support and expertise is throughout these early childhood years in setting the scene and laying the foundations for life opportunities and expectations for both the child and family.”
“Additionally there is a strong and robust evidence base which demonstrates the significant and positive outcomes quality early child early intervention affords children and families.”
Research has found around 40 percent of people with DLD have difficulty interacting with their peers by the age of 16, with half having experienced bullying during their childhood.
As a result, teenagers with DLD are more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression, compared to their typically developing peers.
CEO of Communication Rights Australia, Kaya Latage says speech pathologists and language therapists are “key” to early intervention methods.
“Early intervention is vital in providing solutions to the myriad of communication complexities that a child with DSD may experience,” she says.
“We do know from past and present research that an absence of early interventions can result in lifelong communication difficulties.”
Ms Latage also notes a shift in focus on school difficulties to social interactions.
“There has been a shift away from a focus on grammar, to social interactions, relationship building and collaborative learning.”
“This shift also includes an emphasis on expressive and receptive language skills”.