Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a life-long language condition characterized by difficulty using, learning, and understanding language across modalities (speaking, writing, reading) despite average cognitive and intellectual skills. There is no single cause of DLD, though research suggests a genetic component and environmental factors act as possible predictors. Although there is an incidence rate of around 2-3 students in each class of 30, DLD has very little awareness and is significantly under-researched. There are many factors contributing to this. Most notably, DLD is considered a hidden disability as many people learn to mask their symptoms pretty early in life through different self-taught strategies. For example, a case study following a preschooler describes her use of rhythmic gestures as facilitative for speech. The language skills involved and the severity will vary across people. However, the pervasive nature of these difficulties leads to persistent social, emotional, and behavioral concerns with significant effects on educational and career outcomes. A memoir by Damian Quinn details his experiences living with DLD and emphasizes the role of early identification and treatment in reducing adverse long-term outcomes. Targeted treatments and need-based support provided by the speech-language pathologist in collaboration across contexts and communication partners is also an imperative component of effective treatment. More evidence-based research and awareness are needed for DLD to create more uniform treatment guidelines. Given adequate and appropriate support as early as possible, people with DLD can live successful and fulfilling lives.
Gaudette, Laura M.
Developmental Language Disorder: A Literature Review.
The Graduate Review, 7, 106-121.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/grad_rev/vol7/iss1/14