The Gateshead Millennium Bridge was lit up purple and yellow on Friday evening to mark Developmental Language Disorder day on 16th October. It was organised by the Speech and Language Therapy Society at Newcastle University to raise awareness of this condition which can be abbreviated to DLD.
As a Speech and Language Therapist myself, I was keen to support such an event, as DLD affects around 8% of the population yet it is a little-known condition. Breaking down the statistics, it means that 2 in every classroom have Developmental Language Disorder. It causes difficulties with understanding and expressing language but it may not be immediately obvious that someone has DLD as they do not look any different to their peers. It can also affect a person’s ability to make and keep friends as well as their mental health. Those with Developmental Language Disorder often have lower self-esteem too.
People with DLD experience lifelong difficulties and it is not yet known exactly what causes it. It is likely to stem from a number of factors, however, including genetic and biological influences. A referral can be made to Speech and Language Therapy services for assessment and diagnosis. Speech and Language Therapists can then provide support for the difficulties DLD causes to enable those with the condition to be successful in work, study and everyday life.
This was a socially distanced event with people asked to attend only with their household and to share the image with the hashtag #DLDseeme on social media to raise awareness. There have also been similar illuminations across the UK organised by RADLD (Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder) as well as Canada, Australia and the USA.