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Trailblazing Hackney speech therapists invited to UCL to raise awareness of Developmental Language Disorder

PUBLISHED: 09:45 19 September 2017

Amanda Finer

Amanda Finer

Courtesy of Amanda Finer

A trailblazing team of Hackney therapists is raising awareness of a speech disorder that often remains undiagnosed – despite affecting as many as two children in every classroom.

The Hackney Speech and Language Therapy team is hosting a stall at the Learning Trust in Reading Lane tomorrow lunchtime to coincide with the national day highlighting Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).

Until last year, when it was termed DLD by a panel of experts, it went under several names – from specific language impairment and language delay to language disorder. The lifelong condition affects understanding of language and talking, and is a difficultly in itself, not caused by another biomedical condition like autism or a learning disability.

Amanda Finer, a specialist speech and language therapist based at St Leonard’s Hospital who will help staff the stall, said: “It’s a problem with literally grasping language itself. Understanding what people say, and remembering verbal information, and the ability to express themselves – to say words and put words into sentences and have a conversation, or tell stories and say what they did at the weekend.

“It can impact on confidence, self-esteem and social interaction. If a child doesn’t understand the adult has said, ‘we are going swimming’, and all of a sudden they are on the bus, that would cause a high level of anxiety. Those children might get upset and might present similarly to autistic children, but the reason is they didn’t understand the language.”

Amanda is giving a talk at University College London this week for speech therapists themselves, because many professionals are still unaware of the diagnosis. Experts believe it could affect as many as 7 per cent of the population.

Early diagnosis could improve the outcome of thousands of children.

She said: “We have been invited to go because we are far ahead in terms of our knowledge in the area and raising awareness in Hackney, and to share our experience.

“It has a long-term impact and quite a high proportion of young offenders can have a language disorder that wasn’t previously picked up. There are a lot of people affected, which is why it’s amazing not more people know about it.”

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