How we fail children with developmental language disorder

Karla K. McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Purpose: For over two decades, we have known that children with developmental language disorder (DLD) are underserved. We have also known that DLD does not attract the research attention that it merits given its prevalence and impact. The purposes of this clinical focus article are to present evidence that these failures continue, explore the reasons behind these failures, and propose solutions. Method: I reviewed the literature and applied bibliometric analysis procedures from Bishop (2010) to quantify research efforts aimed at DLD compared to other neurodevelopmental disorders. Results: The percentage of children who are deemed eligible for clinical services because of DLD continues to fall well short of estimates based on the prevalence of DLD in community samples. The amount of research conducted on DLD relative to other neurodevelopmental disorders remains low. Contributing factors include a lack of awareness of DLD, the hidden nature of DLD, entrenched policies, and the dissonance created when speech-language pathologists must diagnose DLD in school settings. Conclusions: Expanded approaches to supporting children with DLD are required. These might include engagement in advocacy and awareness campaigns; clearer communication with the families we serve and enhanced collaborations with classroom teachers; the implementation of school-based language screenings; participation in policymaking; and the development of service delivery models that operate alongside those that exist in our schools and complement their function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-992
Number of pages12
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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