Definition of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD):

DLD is a primary language disorder, in the expressive and receptive spheres, which is observed by variable impairments affecting the development of more than one component of language: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

In addition to a heterogeneity of the manifestations of this disorder from one individual to another, it is characterized, in the same individual, by its persistence, the variability of the clinical portrait over time, as well as by a high probability that there is little evolution without intervention. Developmental language disorder (dysphasia) is often accompanied by other signs and can also coexist with other impairments.

DLD has impacts that can impede the individual’s personal, social, academic and professional development and functioning. As a result, DLD (dysphasia) causes situations of disability and variable harm to the individual and those around him, depending on the circumstances and at all ages.

Summary explanation of the definition (lexicon)

PRIMARY: the manifestations of the disorder is observed first at the level of language; predominance of the language disorder
EXPRESSIVE SPHERE: can be affected  isolated
EXPRESSIVE AND RECEPTIVE SPHERE: receptive is never affected isolated
DYSPHASIA: involvement of more than one component of language


  • Receptive
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • If only one component is affected, then it is a disorder of phonology, morphology, syntax disorder, etc.


  • Different profiles from one individual to another
  • Different tables according to  resources,  context,  severity


  • The gap in language skills persists over time
  • Language disorder is observed at different levels at each period of life.

Source: Order of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists of Quebec

Definitions of the various language issues:
The“ language delay ” is characterized, as its name suggests, by slower language development than expected. This delay may be present for one aspect of language or for several, for example comprehension, development of sounds or morphosyntax. The degree of damage can be variable, from mild to severe. A beautiful evolution is noticed when the child receives a targeted and regular stimulation.

Language disorder ”, on the other hand, represents a slower and atypical development of language. Impairment in different aspects of language vary and one cannot simply compare the development of child’s language to that of a younger child; atypical particularities may also be presents. The difficulties are persistent despite speech therapy following regular follow-up that the speech-language pathologist can make the speech-language pathology conclusion of a language disorder.

Developmental language disorder (dysphasia), affect the expressive sphere or and receptive spheres.It affects more than one component of language in a variable way:

phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

It seems that more boys than girl are affected. Let us only mention that in addition to abstraction disorder, there are generalization disorders and time perception disorders as well as occasionally hearing perception disorders.

The name of the language disorder has changed several times over the years.

Audio-mute, Dysphasia, Primary language disorder. The new name accepted by the OOAQ (Ordre des Orthophonistes et Audiologistes du Québec) is developmental language disorder (DLD), since september 22nd, 2017.

DLD affects 9.4% of 5-year-old Quebecers according to a brief filed by the Order of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists of Quebec and presented to the Health and Social Services Commission in October 2014.

Here are some telltale signs of DLD:

  • Language acquisition starts later.
  • The various stages of language development take longer.
  • The child understands gestures better than words and yet he is not deaf.
  • His attention and concentration are short-lived.
  • The child has difficulty adapting to changes.
  • He designates things with gestures.

What to do?
We encourage parents to have the child evaluated as soon as possible to obtain a speech therapy conclusion from a multidisciplinary team. The faster we act, the more chance we give the child to develop his language as soon as possible. Obtaining a speech therapy conclusion helps to simplify the process for parents with daycares, schools and governments.

When to act?
As soon as possible. If there is any doubt about the child’s language development, the parents must insist with the doctor following the child or contact their integrated health and social services center to obtain a language evaluation in speech therapy. You can also consult a speech therapist directly.

We should also mention that one or more of the disorders listed below may be associated with dysphasia:

  • speech disorder;
  • comprehension disorder;
  • metalinguistic skills disorder;
  • generalization disorder;
  • abstraction disorder;
  • perceptive disorders;
  • memory impairment;
  • attention disorder;
  • behavioral disorder;
  • psychomotor disorder.

Their presence and intensity will vary from person to person.

Children with dysphasia generally present with normal intelligence, a developed sense of observation and a desire to communicate. Despite this, dysphasia is considered a serious problem of communication and development, which requires an individualized and adapted approach, especially at the level of the family and educational services.

Here is a simple representation of the stages of the verbal message in humans.

Difficulties or troubles may arise at one or more of these stages.

Examples of possible difficulties in a person with a DLD are given for each of the stages.

  1. Hearing: I usually hear very well.
  2. Perception: Even though my hearing is good, I can mix sounds that sound alike. For example, to me, the words ”gift” and ”cake” may sound the same.
  3. Understanding: Today is Monday. My teacher explains to me that we are going to see a play on Tuesday, but when mom tells me it’s tomorrow, I get worried because I think the day out has been changed. I don’t know it means the same thing.
  4. Acquaintance Matching: I tell my dad about everything Mr. Martin brought to school for a special activity. My father asks me if Mr. Martin is a teacher. Even though I understand the question and know that he is not a professor, I have to search my knowledge for what I know of his work. He drives a big red truck, he uses a long hose with which he puts out the lights. He’s a firefighter!
  5. Organization of the message: When I have to speak or write, information jostles in my head. I wonder what to say first so that people understand me. They think I’m stupid because my speech is incomprehensible. I am however as intelligent as them and I know very well what I want to say, it is only that I do not know how to say it.
  6. Phonological programming: Organizing sounds in words is difficult. My brain removes sounds, adds or reverses the order of sounds in words. I can get frustrated and lose patience because people don’t understand me no matter how hard I try.
  7. Production: My tongue and mouth movements are not always precise when speaking. This can prevent me from pronouncing the sounds well. People don’t understand me well and may then avoid coming to talk to me, which further isolates me. However, I am generally a person who likes to communicate.

Here are some tips for maximizing language comprehension:

  • Make sure to get attention.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Stand at his height.
  • Ask him to repeat the instructions in his own words.
  • Repeat or rephrase what he did not understand.
  • Use short, simple sentences.
  • Give only the necessary information, issuing only one instruction at a time.
  • Accompany his requests with natural gestures.
  • Demonstrate physically, with objects. You can also illustrate the sentence using an image, a photo or a drawing.
  • Exaggerating non-verbal cues (facial and body expressions).
  • Talk slowly.
  • Reduce ambient noise.
  • Encourage him, congratulate him on successes.



In this section, you will find relevant information on research projects carried out by different researchers, as well as on the groups, centers and institutes in which they collaborate. Their work largely reflects that DLD is still considered a complex syndrome, because in addition to language disorders, there are often other neuropsychological disorders whose nature and degree of severity vary from one person to another. You will also be able to consult different publications and articles produced by some experts, theses and dissertations written by master’s students, doctoral students and access links. 


The needs of teens with DLD and the needs of their parents, essay presented by Catherine Lussier-Lévesque and Marie-Pierre Nadeau as a partial requirement of the Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology (M.Sc.) under the supervision of Mr. Bernard Michallet, Ph.D. Department of Speech-Language Pathology Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières July 25, 2014 

The needs created by the difficulties teens with DLD are presenting, are poorly documented, and as a result, the services reserved for them seem to be almost non-existent. A great despair is part of the lives of these families, who see their balance shaken, and few resources exist to help them (Michallet, Boudreault, Théolis, & Lamirande, 2004). 

Thus, the present study will first present the DLD, then make a portrait of its impacts identified in the literature by introducing the notion of need. The method will then be presented, followed by the results obtained. The results will be discussed and avenues of intervention will be proposed from them. 

Quote from:

UQAM – “Assistance program for dysphasic students and their parents” by Kim Larivière January 2010 

This research focuses on an intervention program for clients with DLD. The objective is to verify the effectiveness and usefulness of a programme of specific interventions within which we will find a document regrouping visual aids. In addition, this tool provides information on DLD and the disorders that may be associated with it. Finally, we also find the contact information for some of the resources available. 

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