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Council shines light on hidden language disability

27 October 2020

Grace Farrell, Councillor Kieran Heakin, Councillor Rachel Massey and Fiona Collins.

Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a hidden disability that affects one in 14 children, that's 2 pupils in the average classroom. 

It means that children have significant, ongoing difficulties understanding and/or using spoken language. A child with DLD may also have a speech disorder affecting speech sounds. However, it isn't caused by other conditions such as hearing loss, physical impairment, autism or severe learning difficulties, making it an often hidden disability.

Many things children develop at school like learning to read, learning another language and social development, rely on language skills, making this a real hurdle for children with DLD.

Rochdale Borough Council's Talk to Learn team of specialist education professionals and speech and language therapists work intensively with young children who have developmental speech and language disorders, like DLD. They aim to raise awareness of DLD and make those with a hidden disability visible.

The team helps parents, carers and education staff with support for children's speech and language needs. They work out what helps their child communicate best, both at home and in nursery or school.

'Language development is so crucial to many aspects of learning for children and I'm so passionate about giving all children the access and support they need to develop'

Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children's services, said: "The work of the team is vital to children suffering with DLD and a great support to their families. Language development is so crucial to many aspects of learning for children and I'm so passionate about giving all children the access and support they need to develop. I really encourage parents and carers to make contact with their school, or with us, if they feel they could benefit from our support."

Councillors and staff supported DLD Day on Friday, 16 October 2020 to raise awareness of the hidden disability and encourage parents and carers to come forward for support from the Talk to Learn team if they feel their child has DLD.

As DLD is a hidden disability some common indicators are:

  • Struggling to understand words
  • Strugglng to explain themselves
  • Struggling to tell their story
  • Struggling to problem solve
  • Struggling to chat
  • Struggling to listen
  • May often use wrong word at the wrong time
  • It can often occur with other literacy problems, co-ordination issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

When provided with high quality support and understanding from the team, a child with DLD can achieve social, academic and professional success.

  • If your child could benefit from the work of the team then you can speak to the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at your child's school.
  • You can also email our team on
  • You can also phone the team on 01706 926400.