Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is probably the least known common childhood condition. DLD is diagnosed when children fail to acquire language acumen for no apparent reason. This results in children who have difficulty understanding what people say to them, and struggle to articulate their ideas and feelings. Research shows over 6% of children suffer DLD.

Recognizing Developmental Speech Disorder

Speech development is fairly predictable for most children. They cry at birth, start random babbling at 3-4 months and try to imitate speech at 6-11 months. A child not developing according to the following timeline may have DLD that requires attention:
  • 12 months – recognizes own name, understands basic instructions, uses one/two words
  • 18 months – uses 5-20 words
  • 1- 2 years – growing vocabulary, uses two-word sentences, imitates animal sounds
  • 2-3 years – 450-word vocabulary, enjoys hearing stories, uses short sentences
  • 3-4 years – Uses sentences with 4-5 words, 1,000-word vocabulary
  • 4-5 years – Uses past tense, has the vocabulary of 1,500 words, starts asking questions
  • 5-6 years – 6,000-word vocabulary, can describe things, use 5-6 word sentences

3 Common Myths

She’ll outgrow it!

Well-meaning friends and family may try to alleviate parental anxieties by sharing stories of children who practically didn’t talk before 5 and then came out with complex sentences! However, research indicates that a child beginning school with limited language most probably will have language deficits throughout school, and maybe into adulthood if not addressed.

She’s either lazy, disinterested or bad!

Children with DLD often find it difficult to comprehend what others are saying, especially when there are distractions or the speaker is moving too fast. Consequently, the child fails to do what is expected.  Ironically this is often misunderstood to be either inadequate attention or disobedience when truthfully neither have anything to do with it.

It comes from poor parenting

Some erroneously think that DLD is a result of parents spending too little time speaking with their kids.  In fact, research has shown that most of the time DLD arises from genetic influences affecting early brain development. However, it must be remembered that language is a two-way street and therefore needs constant practice and encouragement from parents.

Teletherapy to the Rescue

Speech Pathologists who practice teletherapy have several strategies to help these children such as:

  1. Activities focused on language intervention can enhance a kid’s understanding of language while giving her a chance to practice skills. Online speech therapy provides an impressive array of intervention activities for children. For example, describing each step of a process models to the child how to use language to explain actions in an orderly way.
  2. SLPs using the medium of teletherapy use pictures, objects, and books to elicit responses from the kids with whom they work. When the child responds incorrectly, the SLP will gently and carefully sound out the name of the object and explain how it is used in very simple terms that the child can easily understand.
  3. In teletherapy, when the SLP practices articulation exercises and activities, children are encouraged to say words correctly. Depending on the kid’s particular age and stage of development, the child may be asked to tell a story about what happened today. When the SLP hears words enunciated incorrectly, she will help the child slow down and sound out every sound carefully.