In every school classroom 7.5 percent of children have Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). It is one of the most common conditions affecting young people, but most have never heard of it. People with DLD have lifelong difficulties understanding and using spoken language that can have a significant impact on learning, employability, and mental health.
In a bid to raise awareness of the condition, The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, their partners and those with the condition will mark DLD Awareness Day on Friday, October 14.
Sixteen-year-old Dunblane schoolboy Murdo, who was diagnosed with the condition two years ago during the first lockdown, hopes this year’s DLD Awareness Day can provide a catalyst for change.
He said: “DLD is my ‘normal’, I don’t know any different. I always felt different and didn’t understand why and that wasn’t a good place to be. My mum went to the school and spoke to my teacher because most days I was not able to get myself out and up to school, it had all got too much.
“I want to help other young people going through my experience. Teachers need to know how to support people with DLD in a different way that works for them. DLD has made me grow up and it has let more people into my life, many of them have made a positive impact on me.”
DLD can have a huge impact on the lives of young people like Murdo, but it also impacts their families. Murdo’s mother Lee has shared her experience coping with the journey they have been on together as a family.
Lee said: “Murdo used to be very outgoing young child, but we saw a change when he was around seven years old. He became extremely anxious about new or different situations, withdrawing from a range of activities. Murdo developed a very negative image of himself, referring to himself as stupid, a failure and worthless.”
The difficulties Murdo was having at school led to the family reaching out for help, which came in the form of speech and language therapy. However, Lee feels more must be done to help others like Murdo who may not even know they have DLD.
Lee said: “It just needs to be ‘out there’ and it’s not. I feel as a society, we are letting these children, young people and adults down. It should have the same profile as autism and same level of funding and resources across the network of support.
“Murdo’s speech and language therapist worked hard to develop a connection with him and his network of support including his family and school to really understand what they could do to make a difference and importantly how they would know the strategies were working. Murdo now has a great understanding of how he learns and what he needs throughout his life.”
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has been working to help shine a light on the condition.
RCSLT’s Head of Scotland Glenn Carter said: “The RCSLT is committed to raising awareness and providing support to people with Development Language Disorder. We will continue to work with our partners and the Scottish Government to provide the necessary support and conditions to ensure every child in Scotland has access to the support they need.”
Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day is run by the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder International Committee (RADLD), now in its fifth year, it is celebrated annually around the world with more than 40 countries involved in 2021. RADLD is an international volunteer-driven organisation working to increase awareness of DLD, a hidden, but common condition affecting 1 in 14 people.