Developmental Language Disorder

Developmental Language Disorder 

Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a communication disorder classified as persistent difficulties understanding and/or using language. People with DLD do not typically have any other diagnoses to explain their language difficulties (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder). This means that DLD often goes unnoticed in the classroom and students can go years without receiving the appropriate help.



  • Ongoing difficulties with the use and understanding of language (vocabulary, grammar, idea generation, following instructions etc.) that does not resolve after 5 years of age.
  • Social communication challenges impacted by difficulties understanding spoken language and self-expression.
  • Word finding difficulties and difficulty learning new words.
  • Difficulty following instructions. 
  • Difficulties comprehending spoken or written language. This impacts reading comprehension and people with DLD often receive a diagnosis of Dyslexia. 
  • Disengaging with academic content due to a reduced ability to participate and access curriculums. 
  • Difficulties with written language and expression. This may impact the ability to generate diary entries, creative stories or essays. 
  • DLD diagnosis is completed by a team of healthcare professionals. Specifically, psychologists, educational specialists, and Speech Pathologists. 
  • Assessments may involve: Cognitive assessment, educational assessment, standardised language assessment. 


  • Children with DLD will require support and modifications to access their school curriculum. This may include extended assessment times, 1:1 examinations with a support person, visual representations of words in the form of a mind-map, or having word lists sent home in advance to allow pre-teaching of concepts.
  • Children with DLD have many strengths. It is crucial that children with DLD are taught and encouraged to complete their work in a method that works for them. For example, rather than a diary entry, children may be encouraged to verbally recite their entry and have the teacher write it for them, or write their story in a visual mind-map format to allow them to clearly express their thoughts.
  • Speech pathologists can support individuals with DLD to increase their ability to communicate and understand various aspects of language. Therapy may be targeted to specific interests or goals that the individual might have around their language abilities (comprehension, vocabulary etc.).


For more information, you can head to:


Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness Month

May 14th is Childhood Apraxia of Speech awareness month! The month is not commonly recognised in Australia, but we wanted to write a piece about it to raise awareness for the disorder. 

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech? 

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), or dyspraxia, is a rare neurological motor speech sound disorder that disrupts the planning and programming of accurate speech sounds. Just like we use our brain to make a cup of tea or ride a bike, we need our brain to tell our facial muscles (jaw, lips and tongue) how to move to make the correct sounds. Children with CAS know what they want to say, but are not able to accurately coordinate the muscles of their mouths to make the sounds they want. Children can vary from having mild to severe speech sound difficulties. These difficulties can impact children’s ability to engage in activities and participate in group activities due to their difficulties being understood by their peers.

Importantly, children with CAS are just like any other child. They like the same foods, the same iPad apps, and they all like to laugh and have fun. They just need some extra support and time to get their message across 💙

What does CAS sound like? 

Children with CAS experience varied degrees of difficulty producing accurate speech sounds.

The three main features seen in the speech of children with CAS are:

  1. Inconsistent speech errors. 

This occurs because children with CAS may not have a plan to make a sound, so it is different each time they make it. This means that they might make different mistakes for the same word. For example; producing the word ‘bike’, three different ways in a matter of minutes (‘ike’, ‘bi’, ‘bibe’). 

  1. Disrupted transitions between sounds and syllables. 

This means that the child’s speech may sound choppy or disjointed because they are experiencing difficulty moving onto the next part of their word or sentence. Children with CAS may speak slower than other children because they require more effort to get their message across. For example, ‘bay.. bee’ for baby. 

  1. Inappropriate prosody. 

Prosody refers to the volume, rhythm, intonation, and stress of speech. Children with CAS may speak without changing their intonation (monotone), or stress the wrong parts of speech (speak loudly at the incorrect time) because this is an extra layer of speech that needs to be planned. 

What therapy is there for children with CAS? 

Evidence shows that CAS requires frequent, intensive therapy to see the best results in children (twice weekly therapy). Therapy for CAS is slightly different from therapy that targets other speech sound disorders. Therapy for CAS often requires repeated attempts to produce the correct sound so the child can learn the correct motor plan. Therapists will assist children in producing sounds, syllables, and words correctly depending on their difficulties.

Available therapies can be found here: https://childapraxiatreatment.org/treatment-methods/ 

Children with CAS can also benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) such as speech generating devices or sign language to help them get their message across. 

If you have any questions about CAS, feel free to get in touch with us at Talking Fish. 

More information can also be found at this website:


The relationship between learning how to read and spell, and your child’s speech sounds

  • Did you know that there are 44 speech sounds in the English language that combine to make thousands of words, using only 26 letters?!
  • These sounds are called phonemes. The letters or groups of letters that we use to represent these speech sounds are called graphemes. Understanding the relationship between graphemes and how that can be matched to phonemes is essential for our children when learning to read.
  • Our children need a full set of sounds (44), to decode the relationship between letters, and their sounds.
  • For some children, learning, understanding and using the correct speech sounds in conversation is challenging. For example, saying ‘pish’ instead fish.

They might not be able to map sounds to the corresponding letter, as they cannot produce the sound, or do not understand how the sound is used in words. For example, I can produce the ‘k’ sound, but say ‘tat’ instead of cat.

  • Some children may require additional support from a speech pathologist to support their ability to produce or understand certain sounds. This will improve their sounds in conversation, and their ability to decode letter-sound relationships.


  • When teaching your child the alphabet, teach them the letter sounds (phonemes) that the letters names make.