Retrospective accounts of bullying in adults with DLD

Esteller‐Cano, À., Buil‐Legaz, L., López‐Penadés, R., Aguilar‐Mediavilla, E., & Adrover‐Roig, D. (2022). Retrospective bullying trajectories in adults with self‐reported oral language difficulties. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12708


What was the aim?


Previous research had found that individuals with DLD are more likely to be bullied during elementary to middle school (6-14 years old). However, less research has looked at other school years. This study looked at retrospective accounts of bullying, between preschool and university, for 336 adults with DLD and 336 adults without DLD. The types of bullying were also investigated, such as teasing and physical aggression.


What was found?


  • Those with DLD reported greater levels of bullying at all levels of education than those without DLD.

  • Bullying for both groups generally decreased over time. However, the increased risk for those with DLD remained the same.

  • Most bullying forms reached their greatest during the first part of secondary school.

  • Teasing, social exclusion, physical aggression, threatening, and sexual harassment were more likely to occur for individuals with DLD.

  • Except at university, being called names, or teased was the most common form of bullying. At university, the most frequent form was being left out or ignored.


What does it mean?


The study shows that individuals with DLD are at a greater risk of being bullied. However, this sample was from the general population and not a clinical sample. The adult’s language difficulties were assessed via Likert scales to see if they met the criteria set by the CATALISE consensus. Therefore, the results may differ for those who are at a clinical level and are receiving treatment. Nevertheless, interventions should be implemented to reduce the risk, such as prevention and detection programmes. Since the results show that bullying can occur as early as elementary (or primary) school, interventions need to reduce the risk at this stage or even earlier. Additionally, teachers and clinicians should be made aware that individuals with DLD are at a greater risk of being bullied.


Where can I read this paper?


This paper is open access meaning anyone can read it.

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