Do you know that today is International DLD Day?

The Echo’s Brenda Mockler today shares her family’s story of living with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) to help spread awareness of this often unheard of condition.

My son Robert is a sensitive, caring and popular 11-year-old with a great pool of friends in school.

He plays GAA football and hurling and is more confident, in so many ways, than his ten-year-old sister, Emma.

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Robert with his ‘most improved player’ 2017 award with St Kevin’s Killians GAA

However, Robert has difficulty with word finding and may give up halfway through a conversation or sentence because he can’t find the words to finish his story.

Robert also takes things very literally so we must be careful what we ask him to do something, using clear and easy language and instructions.

Robert can also at times talk nonsense.

Now, you might think this is an awful thing for a mother to say but it is the best word to describe it.

Almost daily, Robert will join in on conversations when he has heard a few words he understands and continue with his version of the conversation, often leaving everyone confused or trying to explain to him what it is they are actually talking about.

Robert was diagnosed in 2014 with Development Language Disorder (DLD), which at the time was known as SSLI or SLI (Specific Language Impairment).

Children with DLD can struggle to understand what is said to them and struggle to be understood, and as a mother of a child with DLD I see this every day. 

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Brenda with son Robert

I decided to share my story as today, October 18, is International Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Awareness Day.

As part of the awareness day, families have been asked to share their stories to help raise awareness and understanding of this often unheard of disorder.

DLD is a very common but unidentified condition that is ten times more common than autism.

However, many people have not heard of it, despite 70,000 children in Ireland alone having DLD.

This year’s DLD Day theme is about understanding the condition from the perspectives of those affected by it and Irish families are being asked to share their story about living with DLD by uploading a short video here 

These videos are a powerful way of telling policy makers and service planners about DLD, with many videos already being shared on YouTube.

IASLT and RADLD

DLD day is led by the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder (RADLD) campaign and supported by the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists (IASLT) with the aim of spreading the word to tell as many people as possible about this hidden disability.

Fully understanding DLD is a major focus of service providers.

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Researchers at the University of Limerick, School of Allied Health have conducted one of the few studies in which children and young people with DLD were asked directly what kind of help they want in school.

The children involved were from across Dublin as well as the south west.

Aoife Gallagher, one of the researchers involved in the study, told Echo.ie: “The children were concerned with the way that they were excluded in school, from friendship groups and from participating verbally in class.

“They were also able to provide lots of ways their needs can be met in the classroom without setting them apart from their peers.

“The findings showed that children and young people have important insights to bring as to how teachers and SLTs can support them to participate and achieve in school.”

IASLT also launched a position statement in 2017 which includes a comprehensive action plan to ensure best outcomes for Irish children with DLD.

There is ongoing work being undertaken by the IASLT National DLD Implementation Group to influence policy and practice across Ireland for children and families with DLD.

Get involved and spread the word about DLD

DLD may currently be considered a hidden disability but that must change.

Robert and the 70,000 other Irish children like him who have DLD deserve the chance to be heard and to get the services they need in order to manage their DLD into adulthood and have the same prospects as their peers in terms of family life and their future careers. 

Please get involved on Friday, October 18, to help improve the lives of those living with DLD.  

Follow @schoolalliedhealth, @UL, @RADLD and use the hashtags #DLDYouandMe and #DLDFamilies.

For information see www.iaslt.ie and https://radld.org/resources/information/

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