Developmental Language Disorder and the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Thursday, October 15, 2020

‘Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) can negatively impact on a child’s ability to develop and understand language, as well as significantly impacting on a child’s education and their everyday social interactions’, says Speech and Language Development Australia (SALDA) Chief Executive Mark Yeowell.

‘Despite being more prevalent than other childhood disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, DLD receives little public attention.’

Mr Yeowell was commenting on an Evidence Brief, Developmental Language Disorder and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)—published today in advance of Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day tomorrow—by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research.

‘Children with DLD require early and targeted intervention support to reduce the risk of poor social, education, emotional and mental health outcomes.

‘Currently, children with DLD are being inconsistently excluded from NDIS funding support due to subjective assessment criteria, lengthy waiting periods and unclear exclusion criteria.

‘Evidence suggests that the residual effects of DLD may be lifelong, impacting educational achievement, occupation and socioeconomic status, and yet DLD is not considered an eligible disability for NDIS funding’, said Mr Yeowell.

‘Access to services funded by the NDIS is problematic because DLD has no known biological causes—so decisions about eligibility can be inconsistent depending on the jurisdiction, the time in a child’s life when a claim is lodged, and who is doing the assessing.’

‘People with DLD require assessment teams that understand the nature and complexity of the disorder’, said Mr Yeowell.

‘Eligibility for the NDIS should be completed by a speech pathologist who understands DLD and the impact that it has in order to prevent children “falling between the gaps” of service supports.

‘Final decisions regarding funding eligibility are made by individual NDIS planners, who may have limited knowledge of lifelong complexities associated with conditions such as DLD’, said Mr Yeowell.

‘Inconsistencies between individual planners regarding the interpretation of eligibility criteria may result in a child with DLD being excluded from the NDIS. This could be avoided by having DLD considered eligible under Sections 24 and 25 of the NDIS.’

The Evidence Brief also examines the need for increased education about DLD to be provided to paediatricians, specialist teams and the wider public in general.


Developmental Language Disorder and the National Disability Insurance Scheme is available here.

More information on AHHA and the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research is available here.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Mark Yeowell, Chief Executive Officer, SALDA, 0428 898 402