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Developmental Language Disorder

Updated: Jan 29

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by significant difficulties with the acquisition and use of language in the absence of a known biomedical condition (e.g., hearing loss, neurological disorder). DLD is not attributed to intellectual disabilities, global developmental delays, or other primary conditions that might explain the language difficulties. People with DLD usually have difficulty learning, understanding and using language. Relationships and employment opportunities can also be impacted.


DLD is a permanent and lifelong disability which has been present from childhood. one in fourteen people are impacted by DLD.

Here are key features and aspects of Developmental Language Disorder:


Onset and Persistence: DLD typically manifests early in a child's development and persists into adulthood. The difficulties may become more apparent as language demands increase in complexity.


Variability: The severity and specific manifestations of DLD can vary widely among individuals. For example, some may primarily struggle with vocabulary, while others may have difficulty with sentence structure, grammar, or comprehension.


Impact on Daily Functioning: DLD can have significant consequences for academic achievement, social interaction, and emotional well-being. It may affect success in educational settings and can impact an individual's ability to communicate effectively in various social contexts.


Co-occurring Conditions: Individuals with DLD may also experience other co-occurring conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reading difficulties (dyslexia), or anxiety and depression.


Diagnosis and Assessment: A diagnosis is provided when:

  • The person's language skills is lower than would be expected for their age

  • The language difficulties are persistent and have not resolved by five years of age

  • The language difficulties have a functional impact on the person's life

Intervention and Support:

  • Speech Pathology: Individualised speech therapy is often a primary intervention for DLD.

  • Educational Support: Collaboration with educators to implement strategies and accommodations in the classroom to support academic success.

  • Family Involvement: Involving the family in therapy and providing strategies for supporting language development at home.

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