Developmental Language Disorders(DLDs) / Speech, communication and language challenges
DLD’s affect a person’s ability to learn, use or communicate language.
Other terms you may hear used included:
- SCLI- Speech Communication and Language Impairments
- SCLN- Speech Communication and Language Needs
- Receptive- understanding information
- Expressive- speaking
- Pragmatic Language Disorders- social use of language
- Non-Verbal Learning Difficulties
People may have one or more areas of difficulties.
- Hard working
- People with language and communication challenges may have difficulties remembering sequences of instructions, taking down telephone numbers or instructions.
- The person may appear anxious or may become angry if they do not understand what is being asked of them.
- They may be withdrawn and lack confidence taking turns in meetings.
- They may be reluctant to ask to have something explained to them if they don’t understand if someone has spoken to them too fast.
- They may have difficulty understanding the written word (similar to people with Dyslexia).
- The person may find it harder to understand social nuances or group interactions such as getting others jokes.
Support in the workplace by the employer
- Ask the person what support they need and what makes things harder for them.
- Arrange regular short meetings to check on priorities and progress- this reduces anxiety levels for the employee that they can see they are on task and helps to gain confidence.
- Give instructions slowly.
- Allow additional time for the person to respond to you.
- When giving important information find a quiet place, where possible, to give it so there is less background noise.
- Address the person by their name so they are sure any instructions are for them.
- Avoid jargon where possible. If there are workplace acronyms and language supply a list of terms so the person can refer to them if needed.
- Be explicit in the information/tasks you are asking the person to do and check for their understanding.
- Be specific in what you are asking the person to do. Avoid saying things like ‘in about 5 minutes’ or ‘you could do xx”.
- Ask the individual to repeat back what’s been said to make sure they have understood. If they don’t, try and explain differently. Show, as well as tell, where you can.
- Jokes and metaphors may be misunderstood or taken literally, so talk through expectations in the job and discuss the culture and rules of the work setting.
- You may need to explain the less obvious ‘non work rules’ such as who makes tea; how long people take for lunch; what is allowed in terms of dress code; eating at desks etc.
- Demonstrate, as well as say, how to do a new skill and give time for practice.
- Provide a ‘buddy’ or peer initially to help set priorities and check on the person’s progress- this can reduce anxiety levels for the employee so that they can see they are ‘on task’ and helps to gain confidence.
- Discuss if there is a need to talk with a group or present their ideas or work.
- Discuss what is the best way for the person to do this if this is challenging for them e.g. sending around information before a meeting rather than verbally presenting it. The person may be able to present ideas but may find it harder to take ad hoc questions from people in a group setting and may prefer these to be sent in an email,for example, to consider and then respond to.
Getting the best for yourself- employee
- Consider what adjustments you need so you can discuss this with your employer.
- Ask for instructions to be given slowly and repeated if necessary. Check if you are uncertain about what has been asked of you, even if you have to ask more than once.
- Ask for instructions to be provided in the preferred method e.g. written format, email or text if this helps you to understand them and be able to re-read them.
- Ask for acronyms, business phrases or terms to be given to you so you have a ‘dictionary’ of terms.
- Ask for new tasks to be shown to you, as well as told, you could record them on your phone to watch them again if this helps you or take a series of photos as a prompt.
- Ask for work rules to be given to you about dress code, working hours, the style of working and expectations.
- Ask your line manager to go through your job description so you are clear what you need to do.
- Ask if you may have regular short meetings to ensure you remain on task.