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Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

What is Developmental Language Disorder?

Having Developmental Language Disorder means that you have significant, ongoing difficulties understanding and/or using language, in all the languages you use.

Developmental Language Disorder was previously known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI) therefore all children with SLI qualify for a DLD diagnosis.

How common is Developmental Language Disorder?

DLD is one of the most common developmental disorders. It affects approximately 1 in 14 children, or 2 in every classroom.

What causes Developmental Language Disorder?

There is no known cause of Developmental Language Disorder which can make it hard to explain.

DLD is not caused by other medical conditions, such as hearing loss, physical impariment, Autism, severe learning difficulties, or brain injury. However, children and young people with these difficulties may also have a Language Disorder.

Services for Primary Schools

We provide services to primary schools. Your school will be provided with an enthusiastic speech and language therapist that is able to dedicate part of their time to improving speech, language and communication outcomes for the children throughout the primary school.

  • Universal approach
  • Therapy based on your needs
  • Better outcomes for children

What are the signs of Developmental Language Disorder?

DLD looks different in each individual child. The child’ s specific support needs may change as they get older.

Children with Developmental Language Disorder may struggle with;

  • Paying attention
  • Processing and remembering what has been said
  • Understanding instructions and information
  • Understanding questions
  • Understanding and using vocabulary
  • Making friends and maintaining friendships
  • Flexible thinking
  • Joining in and keeping up with conversations
  • Learning to read and decode texts
  • Understanding and managing emotions
  • Telling narratives (e.g. saying what they did during the day or what happened at break time)

Language support needs may also underlie behavioural difficulties, such as low self-esteem, anxiety or unexpected behaviour in class.

How to get a diagnosis?

Developmental Language Disorder is diagnosed by a Speech and Language Therapist following observation, assessment and a period of targeted intervention. A diagnosis is typically given to children over the age of 5, whose language skills are persistently below what is expected for a child of that age.

Speech clinic

We are able to help children with any speech, language or communication difficulties and disorders in order to help children achieve their maximum potential.


How to support Developmental Language Disorder

Our speech and language therapists will work alongside you to create a therapy plan based around your child's individual support needs. Our therapists can carry out observation, assessment and therapy sessions at home, school and in clinic.

Advice Sheets

Further information

You can find out more about Developmental Language Disorder through the following websites and links. You can also contact one of our Speech & Language Therapists if you need more help or advice.

Youtube Videos

Have questions?

If you have any questions about the services that we provide or the difficulties that we are able to help, do not hesitate to contact us.


Next steps

To speak to one of our friendly speech and language therapists or to book your first appointment email office@sltforkids.co.uk or call 0330 088 2298.

To discuss training needs within your setting please take a look at our training service page or contact training@sltforkids.co.uk.

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Speech Clinic

Our speech and language therapists provide a range of services for children with speech, language and communication needs.

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Voice Clinic

We provide specialist speech and language therapy services for children with voice support needs.

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Feeding Clinic

Our expert speech and language therapists provide a range of services for children with eating, drinking and swallowing support needs, alongside our professionals multidisciplinary team.

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