Has your child been diagnosed with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)? Are you a teacher of a student with DLD? Do you suspect someone in your extended family might have DLD?

Today’s blog answers highlights three of the most important things to know about this hidden condition.

1.What is Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)?

DLD is a diagnosis given when a child, young person or adult fails to acquire their own spoken language for no obvious reason.  DLD makes it difficult to understand what people say and to clearly express exact ideas and feelings. 

The impacts are far-reaching in that DLD can create obstacles to communication at school, work and in everyday life. 

The condition was previously identified by many labels, including, Specific Language Impairment, Language Disorder, Language Impairment and Language Learning Impairment. DLD is now the recognised diagnosis. 

2. Hidden But Common 

Unlike a broken leg or arm, DLD is hidden. You can’t tell by looking at someone that they have DLD. This makes it easy to miss, misdiagnose or misinterpret as poor behaviour, poor listening or inattention.

Emerging research has shown that, on average, two children in every class of 30 will experience DLD severe enough to impact literacy, learning, friendships and emotional well-being.

The reason is simple: we learn through language; either hearing and understanding something new or by reading about it. DLD affects reading and writing and is often linked to dyslexia. It also commonly occurs with other conditions such as ADHD, Developmental Coordination Disorder, and dyscalculia (Cleaton & Kirby, 2018). 

3. Support Can Make a Difference 

Support from professionals including speech pathologists and teachers, can make a real difference. The team at Active Speech Pathology is equipped to assess and diagnose children and young people with DLD.  Importantly, we can help your child to develop skills and strategies, and to understand their difficulties and their strengths.  We also provide high quality intervention which leads to gains in language and literacy (Bowyer-Crane et al, 2008). 

Children and young people with DLD are sociable and with appropriate support can have satisfying lives, with thriving friendships, families and contributions to their community. 

You can find out more information about DLD at: 

  • RADLD (Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder) www.radld.org

  • The DLD Project (a great source for Australian Information and perspectives) dldproject.com


Bishop, D. V. M., & Snowling, M. J., (2004) Developmental Dyslexia and Specific Language Impairment: The same or different? Psychological Bulletin. 130 (6), 858-886.

Bowyer-Crane, C., Snowling, M.J., Duff, F.J., Fieldsend, E., Carroll, J.M., Miles, J., Götz, K., & Hulme, C. (2008) Improving Early Language and Literacy Skills: Differential Effects of an Oral Language versus a Phonology with Reading Intervention. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 49, 422-432

Fricke, S., Bowyer-Crane, C., Haley, A.J., Hulme, C. & Snowling, M.J., (2013) Efficacy of language intervention in the early years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 54(3), 280-290.