An East Belfast mother is calling for more awareness of Developmental Language Disorder, also known as DLD, which affects around 8 per cent of children in N. Ireland.
Sue Bride from East Belfast has brought together a range of leading health and educational professionals, departmental representatives and the Children’s Commissioner of N. Ireland as part of her campaign.
Sue’s son Corey, aged 10, attends Thornfield House which is a regional specialist Speech Language and Communications Needs (SLCN) school.
Recent research has shown that on average two children in every class of thirty will experience DLD which would be severe enough to hinder their academic progress. This number increases in disadvantaged areas which it is estimated that 50% of school-aged children have a speech, language and communication need.
DLD is a hidden yet common disability which causes difficulties understanding and using language for no known reason. People do not grow out of DLD, however with individualised support, that can include regular speech-language therapy and educational adjustments, they can thrive.
Mum Sue Bride said: “ Having a child with special educational needs means you can often feel on your own. It can be hard to make a connection with someone who understands what you are going through. I feel all of the statutory bodies need to work together and listen to parents , to support our children and young people. We are the people who know our children best.”
Acting Vice-Principal of Thornfield House said: “Thornfield are very proud of our children who present with DLD. The children are learning to live and grow with DLD through the use of supportive strategies to help them achieve their potential going into their future.”
Head of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists NI, Ruth Sedgewick said:
“There is a lack of awareness for DLD so we are trying to raise awareness of the disorder. Language and communication underpins everything that happens in the classroom so if a child struggles with language then they will struggle to access the curriculum.
“They could fall behind at school and also children who have difficulties with speech and language are more likely to have issues with their social and emotional well-being so early identification, intervention and awareness is vital.”
“ We have a very small workforce, we have under 800 members in N.Ireland so we would call upon the Departments of Education and Health to work together to put some forward planning in place so we can see more undergraduate places in the future. "
Mum Sue aims to set up a parent support group for those affected by DLD so that others can be offered support and hopefully go on to improve the lives of their own children.
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