Millennium Bridge to be lit up purple for DLD Awareness Day

Dominic Lee on the upcoming illumination of the Millennium Bridge for DLD Awareness Day

Dominic Lee
3rd October 2020
On 16 October, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge on Newcastle’s Quayside will be lit up with purple light to raise awareness of DLD (Developmental Language Disorder) Awareness Day

DLD Awareness Day is a campaign which aims to increase the understanding of the disorder, which affects language learning.

Around 7% of the population are said to be affected by DLD

Around 7% of the population are said to be affected by DLD, which specifically causes issues with speaking, reading and understanding language. The disorder can also have negative impacts on emotional well-being and cause difficulty establishing friendships.

The British organisation RADLD (Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder), has organised the illumination of several landmarks across the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA. It was Newcastle University's Speech and Language Therapy Society, however, that managed to add the Gateshead Millennium Bridge to the list of monuments that are to be lit up purple or yellow.

Louise Chandler, the society’s Giving Voice Representative said: "Due to government restrictions, it is particularly difficult at the minute to run awareness campaigns.

"For example, you would not be able to hand out leaflets on the streets due to the Covid risk.

"Therefore, we have had to get a little more creative and a light up event is Covid safe."

The disorder commonly occurs alongside ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and dyslexia, with some debate also existing among linguists about possible links to autism.

However, there is a large discrepancy between the support available for DLD compared with autism. While both dyslexia and autism are recognised as disabilities, there is very little awareness of DLD.

Louise added: "The difficulty we face is many people do not know the extent of the work that speech and language therapists do.

"The work that the society does is to increase awareness of the profession and the client groups we work with."

Links between DLD and mental health issues have also been established, as sufferers struggle to express themselves fluently and understand quickly what others are saying to them.

Teenagers with DLD are two-and-a-half times more likely to report symptoms of depression

The Manchester Language Study found that 40% of DLD sufferers had difficulties interacting with their peers by the age of 16, while 50% recall being bullied in school; compared with 25% of non DLD sufferers. Additionally, teenagers with DLD are two-and-a-half times more likely to report symptoms of depression.

Louise said: ‘People with DLD find it difficult to express themselves, find the words they want to use and sequence their ideas, which can cause barriers when attempting to interact with others.’

DLD often also affects children’s academic attainment and teachers are not being educated on the effects of DLD in their training. It can lead to an increased risk of unemployment and a lack of independence for those with the disorder in adulthood.

Featured image: Andrew Whitaker, Northern Horizons Photography

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