You’ve probably heard about autism and dyslexia but how about Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)? With 1 in 14 children having DLD, it is time we talk more about this hidden but common lifelong condition.

DLD causes difficulties with speaking and understanding for no known reason. There are serious and long-term impacts, as it puts children at greater risk of failing at school and struggling with mental health and future employment.  The biggest challenge with DLD is you can’t tell by looking at a person that they have DLD and therefore, they often get overlooked for support. 

People with Developmental Language Disorder can be as different as you and I. However, it is important to know that with the right supports, they can thrive!


DLD affects 7.5% of grade 1 children. Teachers, need to know about DLD, because there are two students with DLD in every classroom. In a class of 30, 2 children have DLD.

Norbury et al., 2016

DLD is 50 times more prevalent than hearing impairment and 5 times more prevalent than autism.

McGregor., 2020

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

DLD commonly co-occurs with other neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD, Developmental Coordination Disorder, dyslexia, and dyscalculia.

Cleaton & Kirby, 2018

4 out of 5 children with identified emotional and behavioural problems may have unidentified DLD.

Hollo et al., 2014; Benner et al., 200

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

How did the term Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) come about?

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is the new term to replace Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Developmental Language Disorder is diagnosed when children fail to acquire their own language for no obvious reason. In 2017, a group of 59 experts—most, but not all, of whom were speech pathologists—from six different English speaking countries (29 from the United Kingdom, seven from the United States, eight from Canada, six from Australia, four from New Zealand, and three from Ireland) participated in a consensus-building exercise aimed at identification criteria and terminology. The group were called the CATALISE group (Bishop, Snowling, Thompson, Greenhalgh, & CATALISE Consortium, 2016; Bishop, Snowling, Thompson, Greenhalgh, & CATALISE-2 Consortium, 2017).

The group recommended that the term Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) be used to refer to neurodevelopmental language deficit.