Cork City Hall, Cork County Hall and UCC along with landmarks from across Ireland and further afield are to be illuminated in purple and yellow later today to mark Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) awareness day.
According to the HSE, DLD is when children have substantial difficulties understanding and using spoken language.
The disorder is not caused by a medical condition, hearing impairment, general learning difficulty or social emotional difficulty and is likely to carry on into adulthood.
Speaking toahead of DLD awareness day, Fairhill resident Neidín Dalton, whose twin boys Tommy and Tony were diagnosed this year with DLD, said it is important to raise awareness of this “hidden disability”.
“DLD is said to be as common as dyslexia, and more prevalent than autism, yet it remains far less recognised,” Ms Dalton said.
Greater access to speech and language therapy, she said, would be a great help to children like Tommy and Tony.
“They [Tommy and Tony] do attend speech and language [therapy] up in St Mary's Orthopaedic but it’s just for a six-week block and then they come off that six-week block for 12-18 months which is really hard,” she said.
“I also think there should be more awareness for this in the community centres, a place where parents can go or seek more advice.
“Also, I think more schools especially should spread awareness about DLD and learn about it.
“The boys’ school, Padre Pio in Churchfield, are spreading awareness on Friday, October 14 by wearing purple and yellow. They are a great bunch and a great school,” she continued.
Ms Dalton said her twin boys, aged seven, have been attending speech and language therapy since they were two but were only diagnosed with DLD just before their seventh birthday.
She described her twins as “amazing boys” who would “halve their heart with you” but said the boys can often become frustrated or upset when they struggle to articulate their thoughts.
“It's very hard for them to understand and to be understood. I often wonder how Tommy and Tony feel inside when they are misunderstood as they can get quite emotional and frustrated.
“Patience is key and giving them time to form their sentence on what they have to say even if you have to repeat yourself five times for them to understand,” she said.
Ms Dalton said she was recently invited to a DLD awareness event in Limerick, which she found very helpful.
“It was really nice hearing the other families’ stories regarding their journey with their own children with DLD,” she said.
“Knowing you have other parents to talk about this to is really supportive.
“When you get this news, it is very emotional as I myself was and also confused because I never heard of DLD.”
She gave the following words of encouragement to other parents with children who have DLD:
“For other mothers and parents like myself, you are not alone.
“DLD is a lifelong disability and can have a severe impact on areas of life. It can’t be cured but can be helped with the right source of skills by an SLT (speech and language therapist) or the parent and school.”