Diagnosing Developmental Language Disorder

Online learning

Diagnosing DLD Online Learning

Series of online learning modules for professionals

Who is this online learning for?

This series of online learning modules is designed for professionals who have some understanding of Developmental Language Disorder, but who wish to develop greater insight and skill with diagnosing the condition.

This is NOT designed as a guide for self-diagnosis.

If you or a family member potentially has Developmental Language Disorder, please contact your local NHS Speech and Language Therapy service (UK) or internationally contact your national Speech-Language Pathology association.

At this point the modules are limited to children and young people. Diagnosing DLD in adults is a growing field, so we hope one day to add further modules about diagnosing DLD in adults.

How should these modules be studied?

The modules are designed to be studied in small groups, as each one includes discussion tasks. They are accessible to individuals, but sole practitioners are strongly encouraged to use their networks to find a ‘study buddy’ or group. A group of colleagues will have the benefit of changing work policies and practice.

The presentations all relate to a UK context, and from time to time include UK-specific terminology. The essence of the presentations is likely to be applicable internationally.

They are designed to offer practical applications of the current evidence base. Viewers are advised to reflect upon the content and apply it within their context using clinical judgement. The content reflects the expert clinician and academics opinions and are not designed to be a definitive guide.

To learn more about DLD generally go to naplic.org.uk/dld. Join in the discussion via NAPLIC’s Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Ways to embed the learning


View (and review) the videos with colleagues. If you work in a small team or sole practitioner then set a virtual meeting and view together.


Spend extra time after each module to reflect upon how this applies to your service.


After watching several or all, use the ‘application to practice guide’ to reflect and plan.


Join NAPLIC for further learning opportunities. NAPLIC will use all funds to promote learning about DLD.

Before you start

It is not essential, but it is useful to be familiar with the CATALISE paper and Susan Ebbels’s 2020 presentation for RCSLT/NAPLIC.

Bishop, D.V., Snowling, M.J., Thompson, P.A., Greenhalgh, T. and (2017), Phase 2 of CATALISE: a multinational and multidisciplinary Delphi consensus study of problems with language development: Terminology. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 58: 1068-1080. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12721

Susan Ebbels’s RCSLT/NAPLIC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0Piu-o9fJ0

Online Learning Modules

Module 0: Series overview

  • 19 minutes

Presented by Professor Courtenay Norbury from UCL and Stephen Parsons, Chair NAPLIC.

This video is a brief introduction to the series discussing the motivations for diagnosis, overcoming practical issues and how to use these online learning resources.

Module 1: Getting started with DLD diagnosis

  • 53 minutes

Presented by Rosie Bowness-Clarke from Ealing Speech and Language Therapy Services and Dr Hannah Harvey from Birmingham City University.


  1. Assessment processes
  2. Simple case studies for discussion
  3. Recommendations for report writing
  4. Conversations about diagnosis

Module 2: Selecting and Interpreting Assessments

  • 42 minutes

Presented by Gill Earl, Speech and Language Therapist from Edinburgh and Nazia Rizwan, Speech and Language Therapist from Oxleas.

This module covers:

  1. Why we need to assess
  2. How to select assessments
  3. How to administer assessments
  4. How to interpret assessments 

This module includes the video plus written case study and references.

Module 3: Assessing Functional Language Skills

  • 53 minutes

Presented by Becky Clark, Head Speech & Language Therapist at ClarkSLT and RADLD Campaign Co-Founder and Cheryl Dyer, Deputy Lead Specialist Teacher for Inclusive Practice for Surrey County Council. Developed in conjunction with Hannah Waine, PhD Candidate, Plymouth Marjon University.

This comprehensive module includes

  1. Definitions of functional language
  2. A framework for thinking about functional language
  3. Reasons for assessing functional language and impact
  4. Assessment of functional language – what and how
  5. Clinical issues and challenges

The module is accompanied by a number of resources including copies of the slides and the materials required for the practical activities.

Module 4: ASD, pragmatics and DLD

  • 1 hour 33 minutes

Presented by Anna Sowerbutts, Speech and Language Therapist from Hackney and Dr Catherine Adams, University of Manchester.

This comprehensive module covers:

  1. Language and communication within ASD and DLD
  2. Diagnostic and assessment issues
  3. Research about language, social communication and pragmatics
  4. Case studies and practical activities

This module is accompanied by a series of written practical exercises and resources including module aims, key points, tasks and an application to practice guide.

Module 5: DLD and learning

  • 1 hour 3 minutes

Presented by Professor Courtenay Norbury from UCL and Ruth Wallace, Speech and Language Therapist from Fife in Scotland. Developed with support from Mary-Jo Spearey, Specialist teacher from Torfaen in Wales.

This comprehensive module covers:

  1. Difference between SLI and DLD
  2. Evidence in support of change to DLD
  3. Key sticking points
  4. What should you do if you do not have the non-verbal IQ test
  5. What would you differently in terms of management?

Module 6: Bilingualism and Developmental Language Disorder

  • 2 hours (2 videos)

There are two separate videos on this topic. Viewers are advised to watch them in one sitting as they address different aspects of this topic. There is some crossover as they are both outlining best practice and policy.

Video 6a: Carolyn Gelenter, Specialist Teacher from Westminster and Marie Newton, Speech and Language Therapist from Brighton and Hove.

Carolyn and Marie view this topic from a functional, educational perspective with a focus on joint practice.

Video 6b: Dr Sean Pert, Senior Lecturer in Speech and Language Therapy, University of Manchester

In particular Sean emphasises working with families and also covers aspects of intervention.

With your feedback we can make this project even better.
We would appreciate you spending a few moments competing this form.


Conference summary 2024

Published 3rd May, 2024

We are making progress with DLD

Published 21st February, 2024


NAPLIC 2024 Conference booking now open

The NAPLIC 2024 Conference will be held in Birmingham on Saturday April 27th 2024. We will keep you updated with the details as they are finalised.

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