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Myths about Developmental Disorders

​Karla K. McGregor, Ph.D.
Boys Town National Research Hospital​

Incorrect ideas about developmental disorders

Myths, misunderstandings, and half-truths make it hard for people who have developmental disorders get the help they need. Let's set the record straight!

MYTH: My child will outgrow the problem.

TRUTH: DLD is a life-long problem.

The time course of early language development is highly variable. It is true that some toddlers who are late to talk go on to be great communicators, but not all. About 20-30% of late talking toddlers continue to have difficulties that are eventually diagnosed as DLD or other neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder or Language Learning Disability. If a child continues to demonstrate weak language skills by the time she enters kindergarten, she is unlikely to ever catch up to peers.

MYTH: Only children have DLD.

TRUTH: The onset of DLD occurs in early childhood but children who have DLD will continue to have DLD as adults.

This myth likely stems from a misunderstanding of the term "developmental." The term, as it applies to neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and DLD, simply means that the symptoms are noticeable early in development. It does not mean that the problem will go away once the child becomes an adult. DLD is a life-long condition. Adults will likely show milder symptoms than they did as young children because they are more experienced and more sophisticated, but they still will demonstrate DLD when the language demands of a task are high.​

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References

Roos, E. M., & Ellis Weismer, S. (2008). Language outcomes of late talking toddlers at preschool and beyond. Perspectives on language learning and education15(3), 119-126.

Tomblin, J. B., Zhang, X., Buckwalter, P., & O'Brien, M. (2003). The stability of primary language disorder: Four years after kindergarten diagnosis. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research46(6), 1283-1296.