Friends are the key: Developmental Language Disorder

Friends are the key: Parents play an important role in helping children with Developmental Language Disorder to fit in

I don’t say much in public about my experience as a parent of a teenager with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), but this research really hit home. Parents need our support as they do the hard work of helping their children to make friends and to be included in everyday activities. Thanks, as always, to the researchers.

Friends are the key: parents play an important role in helping children with developmental language disorder to fit in

DLD is used to describe significant problems understanding or using language that are not caused by any known biomedical condition. On average, it affects two children in each class at school, but is not as well known as ADHD, ASD, or Dyslexia. For more information about DLD, check out our free family guide here.

Having friendships and positive social relationships is good for the well-being of children, including children with DLD. But many children with DLD experience emotional and social difficulties because of the effects of DLD. 

Parents of children with DLD experience feelings of stigma and are worried about others’ attitudes, what others think about their children, and that their children will not fit in.

Parents of children with DLD find themselves playing lots of roles, including:

  • normal parent jobs, e.g., to:
    • protect their child’s physical safety; 
    • provide a supportive environment; and
    • provide stimulation at home and other places to help their child to develop; and
  • additional jobs in response to the effects of DLD, e.g., to:
    • advocate for their child by explaining DLD to others; 
    • ‘translate’ what their child is trying to communicate;
    • be a therapist/educator for their child; and 
    • find potential friends for their children.

Many parents of children with DLD advocate constantly to ensure their children are not misunderstood, left out, or ignored. This work is exhausting! 

Educators and health professionals should collaborate with parents of children with DLD. Social inclusion in peer groups should be a joint goal because friendships are key.

Main source:

Jensen de Lópes, K.M., Feilberg, J., Baena, S., Lyons, R., Harding, S., Kelić, M., Klatte, I.S., Mantel, T.C., Novogrodsky, R., Ulfsdottir, T.S., Zajdó, K. and Rodriguez-Ortiz, I.R., (2021). “So I told him to look for friends!” Barriers and protecting factors that may facilitate social inclusion for children with Language Disorder in everyday social settings: Cross-cultural qualitative interviews with parents. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 115, 103963. Available here.

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Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.

Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

David Kinnane
Speech-Language Pathologist. Lawyer. Father. Reader. Writer. Speaker.

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