Developmental language disorder (DLD)

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a diagnosis given to children and young people who have language difficulties that:

  • Create barriers to communication or learning in everyday life.
  • Are unlikely to be resolved by 5 years of age – they will have lifelong difficulties with language.
  • Are not associated with a known biomedical condition such as autism, brain injury, neurodegenerative conditions, hearing impairment or genetic disorders (such as Down’s syndrome)

In the past, DLD was known as specific language impairment (SLI) but the name has changed to more accurately reflect the types of difficulties experienced.

Developmental Language Disorder, affects approximately 7.6% of all children in primary school. This equates to roughly two children in every average class of 30 in the UK. 

Children and young people with DLD have problems understanding and/or using spoken language. Because language underlies so much of what we do this may impact on many other areas as well, including literacy, learning, processing and memory, emotional well-being, social interaction, behaviour and forming friendships.

The following resources will help you understand more about DLD and the different levels of support a child or young person might need.

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