Guernsey’s speech therapists are encouraging islanders to learn about a common, but often overlooked disorder, ahead of Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day this Friday.
DLD is a condition that causes difficulties with speaking, understanding and reading, with a high likelihood of dyslexia and serious long-term impacts on development. Approximately 7% of the population have the disorder, equating to around two students in every classroom.
Raising Awareness of DLD is an international organization, who have organised DLD Awareness Day to increase people’s understanding of how the condition affects people. For this year’s campaign, people with the disorder are being encouraged to use the hashtag #DLDSeeMe to share their stories with the world.
One Guernsey mother has recounted the experience of finding out her child has DLD.
“To be honest, I never realised that my child had any issues until it was identified at his 2-year check,” she said. “After continuous speech therapy appointments, where my child wasn’t showing much improvement, I knew that we needed long-term help from the Speech and Language team.”
Pictured: Roughly two children in every classroom have Developmental Language Disorder, which can affect written and/or verbal communication.
It wasn’t until her child was age five that they became able to form words and full sentences; her advice to other parents is to “seek the help on offer from Speech and Language, stick to the appointments, and be patient with your child at all times.”
According to a recent report, 40% of people with DLD say that they struggled to interact with their peers by age 16, and around half experienced bullying during childhood. Other research suggested they were more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression compared to their neurotypical peers.
Researchers have been aware of DLD for nearly 200 years, but there is still a lack of awareness of the condition; many of those affected are mistaken for being inattentive, poorly behaved or having more general learning difficulties.
Ailsa Cleveland, a newly qualified Speech and Language Therapist at the States of Guernsey, hopes DLD Awareness Day will help people get the specialist support they need.
“Until my degree, I had never heard of DLD, even though 7% of my peer would have been experiencing these communication difficulties,” she said. “Those two children in every classroom deserve understanding and support in order to flourish in their environment and into adulthood.”
Pictured: As DLD impacts a person's ability to communicate through language, it can have a wide-ranging effect on a person's education; but with specialist support, someone with the disorder can still achieve personal, professional and academic success.
On and before the day, RADLD.org will be full of information about the disorder, and donations are being accepted to support their work.
Buildings and landmarks across the UK, US and Canada will be lit up purple and yellow to ‘shine a light’ on DLD.
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