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DLD Day 2018 – Speech and Language Therapists have superpowers!

On Developmental Language Day 2018, to celebrate the occasion, I CAN Speech and Language Advisor Louisa Reeves spoke at an event held by the University of Manchester. See Louisa’s thoughts about the event, what she and the expert panel discussed and the impact of DLD Day below.

I was honoured to be invited to support this event in Manchester held by Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University to raise awareness of a disorder which affects two or three children in every classroom.

What better way to begin the day than by hearing from Professor Gina Conti-Ramsden Director of the Manchester Language Study. Gina took us through the basics of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and highlighted that for children with the condition typical environmental conditions are not enough. These children need an extraordinary environment and the agents of change for this are Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs).

Jacqueline Gaile, Senior Research SLT for Social Communication Intervention Project; Pip St John, Education Consultant and developer of  Pre-Teaching Vocabulary and I then joined Gina to answer questions from the students and SLTs in the audience.

To support the discussion, we used a Padlet which allows people to post questions before and during the event and means those who are nervous about speaking in front of a large audience can still take part.

The questions and discussions covered a wide range of issues surrounding DLD including; the impact on local SLT services, how it will change working with schools and how to support and involve parents in diagnosis.

We then formed mixed groups of students and SLTs and had wide ranging discussions covering everything from the current state of NHS SLT services to favourite interventions and approaches for working with children. As a qualified SLT for many years I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and spirit of enquiry of the students. It was very encouraging to know that the next generation of SLTs will be carrying forward the work to support people of all ages who need their help.

After a delicious lunch we all hit the streets of Manchester to raise awareness of DLD, wearing t-shirts and with leaflets and balloons supplied by RADLD. It was daunting initially approaching complete strangers armed only with a yellow balloon and a leaflet but to our amazement people were really interested and willing to join in conversations, often sharing their own stories of contact with SLT or SLCN.

I met a group of Norwegian tourists and was able to explain this was an international event. One of the participants of the day even met a taxi driver who had heard of DLD and took some leaflets back for his colleagues. Readers who know about the DLD campaign will be aware that the catalyst for Professor Dorothy Bishop to start it was becoming frustrated by trying to explain what she did to taxi drivers.

We ended the day by reuniting to share our experiences and learning and to celebrate with cake and our contribution to Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day 2018. One of the main take home messages from the event was our realisation that, as Speech and Language Therapists we have a superpower. This is our ability to really change a child’s life by supporting them, their parents and their environment.

Bring on DLD Day 2019 – and get your capes ready!