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What is Developmental Language Disorder?

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On average 2 pupils in every class of 30 children will have lifelong difficulties with understanding language and talking. This is called Developmental Language Disorder or DLD. Developmental because it starts in childhood. Language because it affects words and sentences: understanding and/or talking. Disorder because it’s something that’s not expected.

It often goes unnoticed yet it can affect learning, literacy, social relationships, behaviour and mental health. That’s why RADLD (Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder) exists and on Friday 15th October it’s DLD Awareness Day. The theme is: Think Language. Think DLD.

With greater awareness comes better understanding, support and services which all leads to better outcomes for people with DLD.

What is DLD?

It’s primarily a difficulty with language not intelligence. It affects a person’s ability to process and use language in different ways and impacts upon different areas.

At Happy Talk we are passionate about supporting children with DLD and their families. Research tells us that children need access to Speech and Language Therapy provision to be able to make the best progress. This may be through assessment and advice, blocks of therapy to target a specific weakness, programmes of specific intervention and strategies provided to school staff to help teachers to provide the right support for the child to learn in the classroom. Whilst it’s a lifelong condition the need for intervention will vary.

Some general tips to help with understanding are:
  • Use simple language to support understanding
  • Use visuals to aid memory and understanding
  • Encourage everyone to ask when they don’t understand
  • Model the expected language and provide sentence starters and narrative frames
  • Explicitly teach vocabulary and sentences
  • Give extra time to think and to allow the child to put their thoughts in to words


For more information, support or assessment please do get in touch!

Below is a useful poster resource that explains what Developmental Language Disorder limits:

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