Briefing paper

Developmental Language Disorder: a disability, health and education challenge

Speech and language disorders Early childhood development Disability

Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a life-long condition characterised by difficulties with understanding and/or using spoken language.

DLD is a public health concern, associated with increased risk of academic failure, poor employment outcomes and social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties. Yet there is minimal data on the incidence and prevalence of DLD within Australia.

Population-based studies that use broad criteria for DLD indicate that the prevalence may be as high as 17 percent, with much higher rates in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Based on these estimates, DLD is more prevalent than autism spectrum disorder (approximately one percent) and could be considered as prevalent as asthma (approximately ten percent) and childhood obesity (approximately 28 percent). 

This Evidence Brief examines the impact of Developmental Language Disorder in Australia across health, education and disability policy settings.

Publication Details


Access Rights Type:
Deeble Institute Evidence Brief no.20