DLD stands for Developmental Language Disorder. Having DLD means your child may have difficulties with understanding and/or using all known languages. DLD can be identified in children from the age of 5 who are likely to have difficulties which may affect their academic progress and persist into adulthood. DLD is believed to affect around 2 children in every classroom. DLD is more common in boys than girls.
DLD was previously known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI).



There is no known cause of DLD, which can make it hard to explain. DLD is not caused by emotional difficulties or reduced exposure to language. However, a child or young person with DLD may or may not have difficulties in other areas. A child may or may not have medical conditions co-existing with DLD, but these do not cause DLD.

Signs that a child or young person may have DLD:

  • Speech is difficult to understand

  • Difficulty saying words or sentences

  • Lower than average literacy skills e.g. reading, writing and spelling

  • Difficulty understanding how and when to use language appropriately in social situations

  • Difficulty understanding words or instructions that they hear from others

  • Difficulty understanding or remembering what has been said to them

  • Remember: DLD looks different in each individual child.