SLT experiences in diagnosis and assessing children with DLD

Thomas, S., Schulz, J., & Ryder, N. (2019). Assessment and diagnosis of Developmental Language Disorder: The experiences of speech and language therapists. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 4, 2396941519842812.

Aim of the paper:

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) are important in the assessment and diagnosis of DLD. However, there is little research on the assessment process for DLD from the SLTs’ perspective. Therefore, the authors want to look at the experience of SLT in assessing and diagnosing children with DLD. To do so, the authors invited 17 SLTs from NHS trusts for group discussions.

What they found:

There are three key points that SLTs mentioned when talking about their experience in assessing DLD:

  1. Barriers to early referral:

SLTs suggested that parents and the general public are still not aware of DLD and the help that SLTs can offer. Some parents also think that language delay will resolve itself. The lack of awareness and knowledge prevents parents from seeking the right intervention for their children. This is a problem because early intervention is important for positive outcomes, according to most SLTs.

2. Factors in assessment:

SLTs all agreed that standardized language tests provide important indicators of DLD. But observing children’s behaviours also provides important information for assessment. The SLTs suggest that different SLTs may use different tests, partly because children with DLD are different from one another in terms of both verbal and non-verbal difficulties.

3. Concern over continued future support:

All SLTs are concerned that the children with DLD may struggle later in life. Children with DLD are more likely to face difficulties in learning and building relationships, and these difficulties may affect their career and employment as well. Some of the SLTs also suggest that as the world is becoming more focused on communication and relationship building, children with DLD are becoming more disadvantaged.

What does this mean?

This paper shows that there is still a lack of understanding about DLD among parents and the general public. The SLTs in this paper suggest that greater understanding about DLD as well as speech and language therapy may help parents access professional help earlier for their children with DLD.

While it is important for parents to ask for SLTs’ help as language tests are an important aspect of assessment, parents may also help by paying attention to their child’s behaviour. This piece of information can be valuable for SLTs when deciding what assessments are best for the child.

Also, this paper shows that continuous support for children with DLD is needed, as SLTs generally agree that language difficulties may affect multiple areas in an individual life even after childhood.

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.