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Boys Town Raises Awareness for Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)


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Friday, October 20, 2023

​​​Today, October 20th, is Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Awareness Day. DLD Day was originated to bring attention to this neurodevelopmental condition that limits the learning, comprehension and expression of spoken language.

Karla McGregor, Ph.D., senior scientist and director at Boys Town's Center for Childhood Deafness Language, and Learning answered a few common questions about DLD.

What is DLD?
DLD is a neurodevelopmental condition that limits the learning, comprehension and expression of spoken language. Like all neurodevelopmental conditions, DLD is life-long, although many people with DLD have gained skills and ways of compensating that allow them to function well as adults.

What are common signs of DLD?
DLD entails a spectrum of symptoms that vary from person to person and change with age. Problems with language patterns including the ways that words or sentences are structured, are common.

For a young child, the signs may include not being able to follow verbal instructions, using very short or incomplete sentences, or taking a long time to learn new words.

For older children, we see problems understanding classroom discourse and difficulties learning to read and spell, or to complete homework assignments. Even math can be hard because teachers explain mathematical concepts using language.

For adolescents and adults, organizing essays or reports, understanding fast-paced lectures that include less familiar terms and complex syntax, or following conversations that contain slang, figurative language (like metaphors), and verbal humor (like puns), can be difficult.

At all ages, DLD can affect social relationships and it is easy to understand why as spoken language is vitally important for negotiating, solving problems, making plans and expressing thoughts and feelings.

How is DLD diagnosed?
DLD is diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist in a school or clinic. The process involves collecting a case history, observations of the individual's communication skills, and administration of tests.

What DLD resources does Boys Town National Research Hospital offer?
Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH) has two speech-language clinics in Omaha, Nebraska. Our staff speech-language pathologists are experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating DLD.

We also have a large language sciences research group that specializes in DLD research. Volunteering for language research opportunities, even if you do not have DLD, is a great way to advance understanding of the condition.

Finally, BTNRH is the home of, a website that offers written and audio summaries on various topics related to the disorder, that provide a valuable resource to parents, children and professionals.

DLD Around the World
The theme for DLD Day 2023 is DLD Around the World, to emphasize that there are individuals with DLD from all language communities.

In recognition of the theme, translated some of the most popular posts into the official languages of the United Nations which, in addition to English, are Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

Myths About Developmental Language Disorder

How is Developmental Language Disorder different from Autism Spectrum Disorder (and Other Neurodevelopmental Conditions)

Developmental Language Disorder as a Spectrum

Do You have Developmental Language Disorder?

Sign Up for a Free Language and Hearing Screening

If you're concerned about whether your child's speech and language are on track, scheduled a free speech, language and hearing screening at BTNRH. Both in-person and virtual screenings are available.