City Research Online

Awareness of developmental language disorder amongst workplace managers

Lemos, C. de, Kranios, A., Beauchamp-Whitworth, R. , Chandwani, A., Gilbert, N., Holmes, A., Pender, A., Whitehouse, C. & Botting, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-1082-9501 (2022). Awareness of developmental language disorder amongst workplace managers. Journal of Communication Disorders, 95, article number 106165. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2021.106165


Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is one of the most prevalent developmental disorders and affects expressive and receptive language with no clear cause (Bishop et al., 2017). Awareness of DLD is currently much lower than other (sometimes less prevalent) disorders such as Autism or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Bishop, 2010). Despite this, it has now been established that the implications of DLD reach well into adulthood (Botting, 2020; Botting et al., 2016; Clegg et al., 2005; Johnson et al., 2010). Thus, DLD may affect not only school progress but also employment. Whilst recent research indicates that the rate of employment in this group was similar to peers (Conti-Ramsden et al., 2018), it also reported lower levels of employment in terms of hours, contracts and employment type. However, there is virtually no research examining why this might be the case. In contrast there is already a growing evidence base surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Dyslexia in the workplace. Systematic reviews of factors affecting employment in ASD and Dyslexia (de Beer et al., 2014; Scott et al., 2019) have revealed barriers including the job application process itself.

Aims & methods
In this study we aimed to explore managers' awareness of DLD and their views on training, adjustments and feasibility when considering employing an individual with DLD. Specifically, we asked: 1) What awareness do managers have of DLD and how does this compare to awareness of ASD and other developmental disorders? 2) What is the extent of training on DLD and other developmental disorders in the workplace? 3) What barriers to employment are perceived to be most significant by managers? 4) What strategies do managers report as currently in place to help support people with DLD? 5) What are perceived strengths of people with DLD according to managers?

In total, 77 managers completed an anonymous online survey which was accessed via a social media link. Managers came from a wide variety of backgrounds with an equal split between public and private organisations, and across gender. The number of managers who had heard of DLD was lower than for the other disorders (ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia). This pattern was partly mirrored in the proportion of managers who felt they had received adequate training on communication difficulties. However, training on developmental disorders generally was reported as very scarce. A qualitative examination of barriers identified by managers included interviewing and CV submission, reading and following instructions, lack of clear guidelines around support needed, and financial restrictions in providing support.

These findings support existing literature and have implications for policy and practice – namely that young people with DLD may need to be proactive about disclosing their language needs, and that workplaces need increased basic training in DLD.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Developmental language disorder, Adulthood, Employment, Long term outcomes, Workplace
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of DLD managers paper Final for CRO.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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