What is the Language Class?
The Language Class in Moyderwell Mercy Primary School is one of only two such classes in Co. Kerry. Our Language Class is a class for Junior Infant – 2nd class children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), previously known as SLI (Specific Language Impairment). There is a maximum of seven children in the class, a full time Teacher and a Speech and Language Therapist three mornings a week.
What is Developmental Language Disorder?
Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) describes “children likely to have language problems enduring into middle childhood and beyond with a significant impact on everyday social interactions or educational progress” (Bishop et al., 2016b). The language disorder is not associated with a known differentiating condition e.g. Autism, Down Syndrome, Hearing Impairment or Intellectual Disability.
Up to recent times, SLI (Specific Language Impairment) or SSLD (Specific Speech and Language disorder) were the terms used. The new name, Developmental Language Disorder, is now being used in Ireland and worldwide since 2017.
What do we know about DLD?
- It is very common, more common than Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder (Bishop, 2010).
- It may be life-long for many individuals with effects on their academic, social and emotional development.
- Children with DLD can have co-occurring challenges with motor, sensory and cognitive skills.
What happens in a Language Class?
The children attend the language class on a full time basis and follow the mainstream curriculum of their equivalent class as appropriate. Irish is not taught as a core subject. However informal Irish ‘gaeilge neamhfhoirmiúil’ is used in the language class. The option to learn formal Irish, in the mainstream class is offered. If accepted, appropriate timetabling will need to be put in place to facilitate same.
The seven children in the Language Class are part of the school community and are integrated for subjects like physical education, drama, etc. They are encouraged to participate in all Moyderwell Mercy activities e.g. Christmas concert, sports day, tour day etc. All Moyderwell Mercy Primary School policies regarding healthy eating, uniforms, attendance, behaviour etc apply in the language class also. Each child is assigned to a specific mainstream teacher and class for integration for the year.
The Speech & Language Therapist works closely with the teacher in the language class to provide intensive therapy that can be integrated into the child’s school day. The teacher can modify her teaching to suit each child’s unique speech, language and learning needs. Children may stay in the class for one or a maximum of two years; the placement is full time for its duration i.e. 5 days per week, as for the mainstream classes. Advice from Psychology and Occupational Therapy services is considered and integrated where appropriate into the school day to maximise the therapeutic benefit for the child.