Update to our Terminology – September 2017

Update to our Terminology – September 2017

As people interested in speech and language, we all know that language changes constantly, and the speech and language world has recently made quite a big step in updating some key terminology to make it clear and unified. This is a really great step, as confusion around terminology had been a barrier to people accessing support for quite some time, so we want to do our part in helping to promote this new change in the terms we use.

At S-L-Co, we’re adopting recent standards in all posts on our website, social media and mailing lists, and we will be going through and gradually adjusting our previous terminology where we can. The terminology we’re adopting is that from the CATALISE consensus panel in 2016, and we’ve written up a brief explanation to help make it clearer with how it fits into previous terminology:

Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) – this label still applies to any sort of difficulty with speech, language or communication that might need therapeutic or medical support. SLCN is the “umbrella term” that everything else we deal with falls under.

Language Disorder (LD) – this now refers to any SLCN which is specific to language difficulties in everyday life which are likely to be long-term.

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) – this refers to any LD which does not appear to be caused or affected by another condition (such as autism). Someone can still be diagnosed with DLD if they have another pre-existing condition, just not one that affects their speech and language abilities. For example, a child could be diagnosed with DLD and ADHD separately, where their ADHD does not appear to be affecting their language abilities. DLDs were previously known as Specific Language Impairments (SLIs) or language delays, as well some other terms.

Language Disorder with X (where X is another condition) – this is how the CATALISE panel have recommended we refer to a diagnosis of LD when it is caused or affected by another condition, such as autism or Down syndrome. Someone with autism who has difficulties with language could have a diagnosis of “Language Disorder with autism”. This helps to make it clear what is interacting with their language abilities.

We understand that new terminology can take a while to sink in, and we will still understand if you refer to SLIs, language delays or any other common terminology, but we welcome this new clearer, universal set of definitions and will be using them as much as we can from now on!

Afasic wrote about the language changes, including a summary .pdf file.

RADLD (previously RALLI) also made a video about the process of making these changes:

If you have any questions about the new terminology, please let us know by email or social media.


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