Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day
15th October 2021
About one in 14 children experience unexplained difficulties with using and/or understanding language that hinder their everyday communicative functioning and academic progress due to Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). DLD is typically diagnosed during early childhood but for many it is likely to persist into adolescence and adulthood. Children with DLD are also vulnerable to social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Given the long-term negative impact of DLD, early identification and intervention are key in supporting children with DLD during their development.
Although it is certain that acquiring more than one language does not put successful language acquisition at risk, the impact of multilingualism on the course and rate of language development is less well understood. It is, however, well established that the level of language abilities of multilingual children depends on the length and intensity of exposure to the languages being acquired. As a result, many multilingual children develop a dominance in one of their languages over the other(s). The profiles of multilingual children’s weaker languages are often similar in some aspects to the profiles of monolingual children with DLD. Therefore, diagnosing DLD in multilingual children is challenging, and oftentimes, the typical language differences in multilingual children are mistakenly identified as language impairment.
The modern myth that multilingualism can cause DLD unfortunately is still wide-spread. It is thus of great importance to the members of the MultiMind project to debunk this myth and to highlight that multilingualism does not negatively impact children’s language development. For the occasion of 2020’s and 2021’s DLD awareness day (October 16th 2020 and October 15th 2021), a group of MultiMind members (Theresa Bloder, Maren Eikerling, Tanja Rinker, and Theo Marinis) created an information brochure about multilingualism and DLD to raise awareness of this topic. The brochures target multilingual families, and teachers and Speech and Language Therapists of multilingual children alike. They are available in 15 different languages and can be downloaded below.