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What is Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)


Summary of what DLD is

  • Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a life-long condition which can be diagnosed by a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT).
  • DLD used to be known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI).
  • There is no known single cause for DLD although it can run in families.
  • DLD is more common than Autism, however, it is not as widely known about.
  • DLD affects approximately 7% of children in the UK.
  • DLD is hidden and affects approximately 2 children in every classroom impacting literacy, learning, friendships and emotional well-being.
  • DLD can be missed, misdiagnosed or misinterpreted as poor behaviour, poor listening or inattention.
  • Left unidentified and unsupported, DLD can reduce access to education, employment and social interaction.
  • DLD affects every individual differently and there are a wide variety of ways in which language needs present and evolve over time.

Children and young people with DLD can have difficulties with

  • listening and attention
  • memory
  • processing language
  • following instructions
  • understanding questions 
  • understanding and using vocabulary
  • expressing what they want to say
  • social interaction
  • using language to regulate their behaviour 
  • phonological awareness, reading and writing 

Children and young people with DLD are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their peers


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Help and support

If you have any questions about Developmental Language Disorders (DLD), please email or call 01752 307409.


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This page is part of Plymouth's Local Offer and was last updated on 3 May 2022

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