"In 2019, the 'DLD awareness day' illuminated landmarks such as Niagara Falls and Victoria Bridge in Brisbane (Australia) in the campaign colors violet and yellow," reports Sandra Neumann, Professor of Inclusive Education Processes for Language and Communication Impairments at the University of Erfurt. "Social media campaigns also took place. This year, the day will also be celebrated in German-speaking countries as a day of language development disorder under the motto 'SES - Look there!
Language development disorders occur during language acquisition as a result of a primary disease, e.g. a hearing disorder, or as an isolated disorder during the course of language acquisition. Different modalities of speech and language can be affected. A distinction is made between pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and communication behavior. Usually several modalities are affected. Individual differences are also typical. Studies show that about 7% of children are affected by a language development disorder, that is about two children in each kindergarten group or school class. Depending on the severity and complexity of the SES, it can have a long-term effect on a child's development and continue into school age. The idea that a developmental disorder will grow into a child cannot be scientifically proven. On the contrary, consequential disorders are often evident. For example, children with a language development disorder are experienced as more anxious or hyperactive than typically developed children. Since school learning is strongly based on language and speech, children and adolescents with a language development disorder often find it difficult to learn in general.
"Often the behavior of affected children is wrongly interpreted as inattentive or bad behavior," says Prof. Neumann. "The child is then assumed to have general learning difficulties or the cause is sought with the parents." But: Children and young people with an SES can be helped. An early speech therapy treatment can support the linguistic development of the children and alleviate or even prevent massive consequences. Sandra Neumann emphasizes: "On average, two children per school class are affected by an SES. It is therefore necessary that teachers are informed about the disorder pattern of SES and know where they can get support". In the school sector, trained teachers with special educational expertise in the special focus on language can promote the children's learning and their social participation. Since 2019, the latter have also been trained at the University of Erfurt through the newly created work area "Inclusive educational processes in the case of impairments of language and communication" in both the Bachelor and Master's programs in Special Education. The aim is to provide high-quality special and language pedagogical teacher training for joint teaching in Thuringia. In addition, the focus can now be studied as an independent field of study in the extracurricular Master's program in Special and Integrative Education.
The research group of Prof. Dr. Sandra Neumann also focuses on the communicative participation of children with SES and other speech disorders, such as lip, jaw, palate and sail malformations, pronunciation disorders or stuttering. Here, the eight-member team investigates the effects of different speech disorders on the comprehensibility, well-being, quality of life and participation or social integration of the affected children at school and preschool age.
This year's International Day of Speech Development Disorders draws attention to the disorder with the slogan "SES - Look out! In Germany, numerous parallel activities will take place in this context on 16 October. The University of Erfurt is participating with the translation and technical implementation of an online quiz. Based on ten questions, interested parties can find out more about the background to language development disorders and their effects on the people affected.
Prof. Dr. Sandra Neumann: "Take a close look! Perhaps a child's anxiety, hyperactivity or learning impairment in the daycare center group or in the school classroom are related to a language development disorder. Because it is important to recognize possible abnormalities at an early stage and to treat them specifically, parents and professionals should consult experts if necessary. On the blog 'sprachfertig' of the University of Erfurt you will find information about SES, current research projects on language & communication and interesting events.".