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The importance of identifying Developmental Language Disorders early

Having a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) can inhibit a number of elements of a child’s non-physical development. Language is essential to every aspect of human life, from social interactions to education, which makes the early treatment of language disorders vital in order for a child to maximise their potential.

While many are aware of the impact DLDs can have on a child’s learning outcomes, especially in relation to their literacy and comprehension skills, what is less known are the negative social and emotional consequences. For instance, a report published by the Early Intervention Foundation found that alongside being detrimental to a child’s education and employment prospects, that DLD also increase the likelihood of antisocial behaviour and mental health issues in adulthood (Law, Charlton and Asmussen 2017). For instance, 74% of those in young offending institutions in the UK have communication difficulties, and 60% have issues surrounding language, communication and literacy (Law, Charlton and Asmussen 2017, p.26).Alongside this, DLD are also especially prevalent amongst Low social-economic groups.18–31% of children aged 19–21 months living in low social-economic households have been found to have language delay that warrants referral for specialist assessment (Law, Charltonand Asmussen 2017, p.7). DLD can act as a form of inequality trap, due to their impact on a child’s educational achievement and development. Given the adverse consequences of an undiagnosed, and therefore, untreated language disorder, it is vital to identify DLD as soon as possible. As a child gets older, the impacts of DLD become more entrenched, and the effectiveness of Speech and Language Therapy decreases. A child can quickly fall behind if speech and language learning is delayed (ASHA 2012). Early identification increases the chances for improving communication skills by helping develop language when a child’s brain is most malleable and absorbent to learning (ASHA 2012). The earlier a child is exposed to Speech and Language Therapy, the more likely the risks associated with DLD are to be mitigated. Consequently, the team here at Therapy Box embarked on the Atlas project, to improve the existing means of identifying DLD




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