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"Our son has problems with speech and behaviour. I had no idea what DLD was until I met the family coach."

Mum and dad, Scottish Borders

What is DLD?

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), formerly known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI), is a condition characterised by persistent and significant difficulties in understanding and/or using spoken language across all the languages an individual speaks. 

Research is ongoing but at the moment, the precise cause of DLD remains unknown, making it a complex condition to explain.  

It is crucial to note that DLD is not linked to emotional problems or limited exposure to language. 

DLD is often comorbid with other challenges, such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, or speech sound difficulties. It's essential to differentiate DLD from other medical conditions like hearing loss, physical impairments, autism, severe learning difficulties, or brain injuries. 


However, it is possible for individuals with these conditions to also experience language disorders concurrently. 

What to look our for  

Signs of DLD in a child or young person may manifest in various ways: 

Limited verbal communication and difficulty expressing themselves effectively. 

Linguistic skills that appear underdeveloped for their age.

Struggles with word retrieval and limited vocabulary.

Difficulty comprehending and retaining spoken information.

Older children may face challenges in reading and written language.

It's important to note that language difficulties can underlie behavioural issues, such as anxiety or classroom misbehaviour.

DLD's presentation can vary significantly from one individual to another, and specific difficulties can evolve as children grow and require more complex language skills. 

The impact of DLD on a child or young person is substantial and can affect their educational journey significantly. 


Children with DLD are at an increased risk of encountering reading difficulties as they progress through school.  


Furthermore, DLD can influence a child's social interactions and their ability to establish and maintain friendships.  

In many cases, children may learn and comprehend information more effectively through visual or hands-on methods rather than solely relying on verbal instruction. Learn more.

For instance, they may grasp a story better if it is acted out or drawn, rather than merely listening to it. 

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