Hurler Karl tells his story  of ‘Growing with DLD’
DLD Ambassador Karl Reddy plays hurling with Ballyboden St Enda’s

Hurler Karl tells his story of ‘Growing with DLD’

A YOUNG hurler, who was diagnosed with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) at six-years-old, shares his experience of ‘Growing with DLD’.

Now 23, Karl Reddy is a popular hurler on Ballyboden St Enda’s GAA Club’s senior team and is an ambassador for this year’s International DLD Awareness Day, taking place this Friday, October 14.

Growing with DLD is the theme of this year’s campaign, highlighting that DLD is a lifelong, permanent neurodevelopmental condition with one of the main signs of the condition being difficulty with communicating, particularly in relation to speaking and language comprehension.

“Growing up with DLD was hard during my early school years,” said Karl, who is a past pupil of St Colmcille’s Community School in Knocklyon.

“During my time in primary school, my blissful ignorance of my condition didn’t faze me at all even if I had difficulty communicating with friends, teachers, and pupils alike.

“However, going into secondary school, I came to the harsh reality that I wasn’t like everyone else, I wasn’t as academic or fast as a learner.

“To make things worse, my friends started to drift away from me and move on with their lives and make new friends with ease – but I struggled to advance on.”

Since DLD affects communication, many people with the condition can struggle to find the words to explain what they’re experiencing, and it can hamper their early educational and social experiences.

“I couldn’t quite explain to people what it was I was going through as I couldn’t figure out how to say it,” said Karl.

“This not only took a toll on my academic learning, but on my mental health as well.

“In fourth year, I was set up in my social media class and was tasked within my group to come up with an inspirational idea for a video.

“Although a lot of ideas sprung to mind, my mam suggested I should put myself out there and talk about my story with DLD.

“The group loved the idea of it and so we began filming. I was so nervous about putting myself out there as I feared it would only make my life worse and make me look like an attention-seeker.

“However, this was far from the case and it ended up being one of the best decisions I made in my life.”

Karl’s openness about his condition is at the heart of his role as an ambassador for this year’s DLD Awareness Day and it has helped him in his day-to-day life.

When asked what advice he would give his younger self about growing up with DLD, Karl said: “Talk to your friends, get it out there to your teachers, pupils, coaches…talk, talk, talk.

“It doesn’t have to be done through a big grandiose video, you just need to get it out there and express yourself and show who you really are.

“It will be hard to explain to someone what you’re going through, but if they are willing to listen and help understand your situation, it lifts a massive weight off your shoulders.

“I wish I had done it sooner, but I was glad I did, as it gave everyone around me a perspective of how life is for someone like me and how difficult it can be.

“No matter what your struggles are, even if we can see it or not, we should do everything we can to help each other and encourage people to live the life they deserve, rather than alienating them for their differences.”

DLD Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of the condition and counter the alienation and isolation that many people with DLD can experience, and to show that there is support for them.

A number of local landmarks will light up purple and yellow – the official colours of DLD Awareness campaign – this Friday, including St Maelruain’s Church, the Red Cow Moran Hotel and Citywest Business Campus.

Meanwhile South Dublin County Council will be giving DLD Awareness Day a ‘digital spotlight’ on their website and social media accounts on Friday.

For further information on DLD, visit the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder website HERE.

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