How aware is the public of DLD? A survey of public awareness in European Countries

Thordardottir, E., & Topbaş, S. (2020). How aware is the public of the existence, characteristics and causes of language impairment in childhood and where have they heard about it? A European survey. Journal of Communication Disorders, 106057.

Aim of the paper:

Public awareness is important for clinical services. Being aware means that people can recognize warning signs of disorders and know where to seek help. This paper looks at how aware the European public is of the existence, nature and cause of DLD. They compare DLD to other disorders, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia and speech disorders. This is done by a survey across 18 countries of Europe.

What they found:

  • Overall, only 59% of the participants heard of DLD (or childhood language impairment), which is lower than the other four disorders. For example, 95% of participants heard of ASD.

  • Being a female, having a child aged 18 years or below, having higher income and having higher education levels are factors associated with higher awareness of DLD.

  • People heard of DLD more from media and the internet, and less from child’s school or medical professionals. This pattern is similar to how people heard of autism.

What does this mean?

The results from this study suggests that public awareness for DLD is low. However, this study was conducted right after the CATALISE study. Efforts to increase public awareness of DLD may not have started yet. More recent research is needed to understand how public awareness for DLD might have changed following the CATALISE study. The CATALISE is a study that led to consensus on the use of the term DLD and the diagnostic criteria for DLD. It was conducted by an international group of experts, led by Professor Dorothy Bishop.

This study also suggest that people have heard about DLD and autism from similar sources. It is likely that the difference in awareness between DLD and autism is due to the small amount of media coverage on DLD. So, greater media coverage may help increase public awareness for DLD. Lastly, more effort is needed to reach groups with lower education level, as they are likely to have lower awareness for DLD even if they are at higher risk for DLD.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.

Please click here to find the full paper.