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Identifying developmental language disorder (DLD) in multilingual children: A case study tutorial

Hamdani, S., Chan, A., Kan, R. , Chiat, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-8981-8153, Gagarina, N., Haman, E., Łuniewska, M., Polišenská, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7405-6689 & Armon-Lotem, S. (2024). Identifying developmental language disorder (DLD) in multilingual children: A case study tutorial. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, pp. 1-15. doi: 10.1080/17549507.2024.2326095


A long-standing issue in identifying developmental language disorder (DLD) in multilingual children is differentiating between effects of language experience and genuine impairment when clinicians often lack suitable norm-referenced assessments. In this tutorial we demonstrate, via a case study, that it is feasible to identify DLD in a multilingual child using the CATALISE diagnostic criteria, Language Impairment Testing in Multilingual Settings (LITMUS) assessment tools, and telepractice.

This tutorial features a case study of one 6-year-old Urdu-Cantonese multilingual ethnic minority child, and seven age- and grade-matched multilinguals. They were tested via Zoom using Urdu versions of the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (LITMUS-MAIN), the Crosslinguistic Lexical Task (LITMUS-CLT), the Crosslinguistic Nonword Repetition Test (LITMUS-CL-NWR), and the Sentence Repetition Task (LITMUS-SRep).

The child scored significantly lower in the LITMUS tests compared to her peers in her best/first language of Urdu. Together with the presence of negative functional impact and poor prognostic features, and absence of associated biomedical conditions, the findings suggest this participant could be identified as having DLD using the CATALISE diagnostic criteria.

The result demonstrates the promise of this approach to collect reference data and identify DLD in multilingual children. The online LITMUS battery has the potential to support identification of multilingual DLD in any target language.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permitsunrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allowthe posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Publisher Keywords: CATALISE, LITMUS battery, Urdu, developmental language disorder, multilingual ethnic minority children, telepractice
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
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