Developmental Language Disorder Awareness day
Michelle Ronan, a teacher at St Kilian’s JNS in Kingswood has taught pupils with DLD

Developmental Language Disorder Awareness day

STAFF in a local primary school will wear purple and yellow, while some local landmarks will be lit up in purple and yellow, to celebrate International Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Awareness Day this Friday, October 15.

Purple and yellow are the colours for DLD awareness. DLD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition, and one of the main signs of the condition is difficulty with communicating, including understanding and/or using spoken language.

There is no known reason for the condition, and left undiagnosed or unsupported it can reduce access to education and employment, and can negatively impact the ability of those affected to engage in social interactions.

On average, two students in every class of 30 have DLD, and an emphasis on the impact teachers can have in identifying the condition and supporting affected pupils is a key theme of this year’s awareness day.

Staff at St Killian’s Junior National School in Kingswood are fully behind this year’s theme, and the staff will wear purple and yellow to mark the occasion and raise awareness.

Michelle Ronan, a teacher in St Killian’s JNS who has taught pupils with DLD, told The Echo that it’s important for teachers to be aware of the condition, and to provide support to the affected students.

“Children with DLD often struggle in school,” she explained. “They won’t just ‘pick up’ language, they will need to be taught language skills in a specific way.

Robert Mockler outside the Red Cow Moran Hotel in 2020 on DLD Awareness Day

“Therefore, awareness is key for a teacher and support from other members of school staff and outside specialists is vital.

“But despite their difficulties with language, children with DLD can achieve well at school, both academically and socially.

“Children with DLD just learn differently. As a teacher, knowing their best learning style is paramount.

“By providing language supports to the child with DLD, teachers can maximise the child’s ability to access important learning opportunities.”

Effective language supports typically involve the intervention of speech and language therapists working in collaboration with teachers and SNAs.

In terms of the classroom environment, some techniques that teachers can employ to help pupils with DLD include keeping statements and instructions clear and to-the-point, repeating and rephrasing key instructions, and breaking down information using a combination of text, graphics and icons.

As part of this year’s International DLD Awareness Day, the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder (RADLD) organisation has launched a free, downloadable teachers’ kit.

Many local and national buildings like St Maelruain’s Church in Tallaght lit up their buildings in purple and yellow for DLD Awareness Day 2020

While this kit is a welcome additional resource for teachers, Ms Ronan said more needs to be done at a government level to facilitate teachers being trained in how to help and support students with DLD.

Ms Ronan said: “The free teaching kit in celebration of DLD Awareness Day will be a wonderful supporting document and resource to have in every school.

“However, I feel that it is essential that training is provided by the Department of Education for teachers to make them aware of DLD along with the many other needs they meet in the classroom.

“Teachers are expected to research and undertake training at their own expense and time. This is inadequate and as a result, the children’s learning needs are not being met.

“I feel that training should be provided during school hours and substitute cover provided.

“As a school, we at St Kilian’s JNS, Kingswood, are celebrating DLD Awareness Day on October 15 with our staff dressing up in purple/yellow clothing to highlight the day and promote awareness of the cause.”

A number of local landmarks, including Citywest Business Campus, the Red Cow Moran Hotel, St Maelruain’s Church in Tallaght and South Dublin County Council’s civic offices in Tallaght and Clondalkin will be lit up in purple and yellow on Friday to mark the day and to show support.

For further information, visit RADLD.org, where teachers can also download a free teachers’ kit in celebration of DLD Awareness Day.

Scan the QR code to listen to IASLT in Conversation podcast ‘DLD Day 2021: Perspective from teacher Julie Sweeney’.

Brenda Mockler and Julie Sweeney, both parents to boys with DLD discuss DLD for pupils in school.