What is DLD?

What is DLD?


Developmental Language Disorder is a type of language difficulty which is not due to another condition (such as autism, Down’s Syndrome or a brain injury). It is unlikely to disappear overnight, so awareness and support from an early age is very important.

The Raise Awareness of Developmental Language Delays (RADLD) describe the three main aspects of DLD as:

  1. DLD can make talking or understanding difficult
  2. DLD is a hidden but common condition, affecting on average 2-3 children in every classroom
  3. Support for people with DLD can make a significant impact


RADLD also produced this excellent video resource on what DLD is:

DLDs can affect a child’s understanding of other people speaking, or difficulties in speaking for themselves, and they can affect different children in very different ways, so there is no “catch-all” solution or advice. However some steps can help reduce the stress and anxiety that children with a DLD can experience:

  • Speak clearly and in short sentences with breaks between sentences. This gives the child time to process what you are saying and catch up.
  • Use visual aids (pictures or diagrams) where possible to help the child connect the spoken word to an idea or thing.
  • Give physical demonstrations rather than describing, especially for instructions.
  • Consider using a sign language or other AAC to support your child, if you think it would help them.

In general, it can help to think about what you would do to communicate with a child who is not fluent in your language, or how you would communicate surrounded by people who didn’t speak the same language as you, as this can be what it feels like for some children with DLDs.

Children with DLDs can be more likely to have confidence issues and participate less in schools, but their school has a responsibility to do what they can to support the child – have a look at our post about reasonable adjustments in schools.

DLDs used to be known by a variety of terms (such as SLIs or language delay) which made it confusing to get accurate information, but they have recently been renamed as DLDs.

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