Speech Pathology Australia is driving a national conversation around Developmental Language Disorders (DLD), which is a hidden condition affecting an average of two children in every classroom, on International Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day.
DLD is a condition that causes difficulties with speech, language understanding, communication, and reading, and has an associated high risk of dyslexia.
DLD is the accepted term for language difficulties, where the language disorder has no other influencing conditions, like Autism, Down Syndrome or Fragile X.
Children with DLD are likely to have language problems that continue into middle childhood and beyond.
Without diagnosis and specialist support, the condition can have an impact on their everyday social interactions and schooling.
National President of Speech Pathology Australia, Tim Kittel, says, “Raising awareness of DLD is crucial.
“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.
“DLD tends to run in families. The cause for this condition is unknown, but there is likely a genetic component.
“By introducing an internationally agreed term in 2017 and with increasing awareness and recognition of DLD, children affected should be able to access the speech pathology support they need.”
The complexity of DLD can have a serious and long-term impact on the development of children with the condition.
Research shows that by age 16, around 40 percent of children with DLD have difficulties engaging with their peers and 20 percent of those children experience bullying during their childhood compared to less than 25 percent of typically-developing teenagers.
DLD research has also found that teenagers with the condition are twice as likely to report symptoms of depression than those not affected by DLD.
The impacts of DLD can last into adulthood without diagnosis and specialist support, which increases the risk of unemployment and reduces the opportunity to live or be independent.
Sometimes students with DLD may be labelled with dyslexia, since difficulties with reading, writing and spelling can be confused for that condition rather than identifying DLD as the problem.
While a child can read aloud perfectly, they often may not understand what they have just readout.
A failure to comprehend can be misinterpreted by teachers as naughtiness or inattention, since most teachers are not taught about DLD in their training.
Speech Pathology Australia wants to spread information about DLD on the international awareness day, saying support from speech pathologists can make a huge difference in the life of a child with DLD.
Visit the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder website, to find out more about the condition.