Parental Support for Children with DLD: A Condition That Affects 2 Kids In A Classroom of 30 in the UK
Developmental Language Disorder or commonly known as DLD is a condition present among children and adults wherein the individual has an ongoing difficulty using and understanding the language/s that they use at home or in school. This condition is further categorized as a lifelong difficulty in using and understanding language. Some of the most common telling signs of DLD include (but are not limited to): difficulty in finding words to express ideas, difficulty following instructions and answering questions, and difficulty in reading and writing.
DLD is five times more prevalent than autism. In fact, in a typical classroom of 30 students in the UK, an average of two children would have Developmental Language Disorder. Moreover, an estimate of 7% of the population is believed to be affected by DLD. This type of language disorder is quite common, however, it can be hidden and is not easily diagnosed. DLD starts during the early years of childhood and can be diagnosed through a series of tests conducted by a speech pathologist when the child is at least 5 years old.
This condition is often characterised by having difficulty understanding simple and common instructions, a struggle in finding the words to ask questions, and having a hard time expressing emotions, ideas, and thoughts through words. And, because of this, children with DLD are easy targets for bullies. Children with language problems are also at increased risk of being bullied (Redmond, 2011). Moreover, children who have this condition, and even adults who live with DLD are said to have poorer emotion regulation Fujiki, Brinton & Clarke, 2002). People with DLD are 6 times more likely to have reading difficulties and 4 times more likely to struggle with math. (Young et al., 2002)
Parental Support for Children with DLD: Simple Strategies That Make Big Impact
DLD is a long-term condition that could last even until adulthood. It impacts the child’s academic performance and may have a struggle in reading by the time they reach school age. Moreover, children with DLD also have a hard time socialising with their peers, most develop poor self-esteem, and may have trouble making and keeping friends.
On a brighter note, children and adults with DLD are extremely excellent visual learners, they are quick to learn when they actually see the task being done, or they learn it through hands-on experience. Because of this advantage, language therapists suggest using this learning approach to support children with DLD.
There are simple strategies that you can do to help children with DLD, simple steps that are easily doable in your own home, it does not need any special skill or equipment, and it leaves a positive and lasting impact on the child.
- Always use the child’s name when communicating; call them by their name.
- Find time every day to talk to the child face-to-face, remember, constant communication is still the MOST effective way to improve speech!
- Read books with a lot of pictures since these children are visual learners. It’s highly recommended that you buy book illustrations that the child can easily relate to. A personalised book where you can customise the character and make your child the hero of the story is a very good choice of book for children with DLD.
- Children with other neurological conditions such as dyslexia and autism could also benefit from a personalised book. The book also uses a cursive font which makes it easier to read, and each personalised book has a scannable QR that leads you to a personalised audiobook that’s helpful for reluctant readers and children who have trouble reading, especially those with DLD and dyslexia!
- When giving instructions and communicating to children with DLD, use hand signals and gestures to help them understand easier
- Encourage social interaction by bringing children to playgrounds, and parks, and enrolling them in playgroups
DLD is unidentified in many affected children. Children with DLD often do not receive specialised services to address the condition. (Tomblin et al., 1997; Norbury et al., 2016). Some people may live with Developmental Language Disorder for the rest of their life. If your child is diagnosed with it (or you suspect your child to have DLD), don’t be discouraged, DLD is common and there’s definitely something that you can do to help. Getting a speech therapist can help, with consistent therapy, DLD usually goes away by the time the child reaches school age. It’s also very important to provide the child with love and support at home by following the five simple strategies mentioned above.
Every child is unique and special, a child with DLD is nothing less!