Alison Shorer

Bringing psychology research to classroom practice

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

Equip your teachers give Early Help to children with DLD

A group of language experts introduced the term Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in 2017. They believed that there are some language disorders with unexplainable aetiology that needed to be acknowledged and given a name. The suspected prevalence is 2 in every class of 30 in the UK.

My new CPD training course is an introduction to this disorder. You may have noticed that some children muddle words when they talk or cannot find the words to express what they want to say. Some children cannot recall events in an organised way or get their question words wrong at the beginning of a sentence. All of these are examples of DLD.


What is interesting about the new term is the recognition of the link to dysregulated (SEMH) behaviour. This is because experts have recognised that there are feelings of frustration and anxiety that build up in children when they cannot express themselves. They know what they are trying to say but cannot find the words or right expression. Children with unexplainable behaviour could be have DLD. Children with DLD are at greater risk being excluded, and more likely to access the youth justice services (RCSLT).


There are some convincing statistics for educators to take this disorder seriously. For example, Wehby, and Oliver (2014) found that 81% Children with emotional and behavioural disorders (EBD) have significant unidentified communication needs. In another study of pupils at risk of being excluded two thirds were found to have SLCN (Clegg, 2004). This helps teachers understand what interventions are needed to help their learners with EBD and SEMH in their care.

Think language, think DLD

The raise awareness campaign for DLD by promote the slogan “think language, think DLD” to help teachers ask themselves whether their learner has the condition before considering other conditions. [link to RADLD campaign video].

Early Help and DLD

Your teachers can offer better Early Help for children and be able to meet their needs sooner with their adaptive teaching. Teachers can now use the term DLD when they are discussing a child with a SENDCo and within a SEN support plan. Referrals can then made to your local speech and language therapists who can use their diagnostic tools. 

Book CPD training delivered by me for your teaching staff. 

An online session (1.5 hour talk) will introduce your teaching team to DLD.

A half day training will include an introduction session along with a workshop with lots of ready-to-use resources for teachers to use with their learners.

You can read more about my DLD CPD course, and find rates, on my SEND CPD for Teachers page.