New Terminology for Language Impairments
After years of confusion, there is now international agreement (in the English-speaking world) about what to call ‘unexplained language difficulties’.
While the term Language Disorder is retained, Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) will replace the term Specific Language Impairment (SLI).
I am grateful to the charity Afasic for alerting me to this change via its winter newsletter, in an article by Susan Ebbels a specialist speech and language therapist at Moor House School and member of the CATALISE panel. She also wrote an companion article on the Afasic website from which this is an extract:
An international group of experts (the CATALISE panel) have recommended using the following terms for children with language difficulties:
Language Disorder for language difficulties that significantly affect children’s lives and are unlikely to just go away
Developmental Language Disorder for a language disorder that is not associated with conditions such as autism, hearing impairment or Down’s Syndrome
SLCN (Speech, Language and Communication Needs) to be used by commissioners and others who plan services as a generic term for the broad range of children needing language support
Linda Lascelles, the CEO of Afasic, who was a member of CATALISE said, ‘We hope that achieving this consensus will raise the profile of language difficulties and lead to more children getting the help they need’.
Susan Ebbels has also written this explanatory summary New Terminology for Language Difficulties , downloadable as a PDF, and well worth a read if you need a clear grasp of this topic.
Even then, this topic may still seem complex (it is!) – but almost every parent of a child with a learning disability has, or will, come into contact with a speech and language therapist or an educational psychologist, and it may help to know the criteria and language being used by these health and education professionals.