Assessment of Developmental Language Disorder in Multilingual Children: Results from an International Survey

Wiebke Scharff Rethfeldt, Lemmietta McNeilly, Marja Laasonen, Natalia Meir, Hadar Abutbul-Oz, Sini Smolander, Bàrbara Niegia Garcia Goulart, Emily Frances Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The Multilingual-Multicultural Affairs Committee of the International Association of Communication Disorders (IALP) conducted a survey of diagnostic criteria for developmental language disorder (DLD) in multilingual children to discover how clinicians apply terminology and diagnostic criteria to multilingual children in different parts of the world. Methods: An international web survey was used to survey 354 participants from 44 countries about their assessment practices, and clinical opinions about assessing multilingual children for DLD. Results: The findings show that most clinicians felt confident in assessing multilingual children, and they applied the DLD terminology and inclusionary criteria to multilingual children with difficulty learning language. Clinicians used different procedures to assess heritage and societal languages. Barriers to access to services included a lack of knowledge by parents and referral sources about services available and typical multilingual development, with additional reasons differing by geographical region. Discussion: Speech pathologists across the globe have many similarities in the way that they assess multilingual children. Differences may be attributed to clinical experience, professional education, the clinician’s role, the system they work in, and the clinician’s own language skills. This paper advances knowledge of current clinical practices, which can be used to evaluate frameworks in international and national contexts, with implications for policy and practice to improve access to clinical services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-150
Number of pages24
JournalFolia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 S. Karger AG, Basel.


  • Assessment
  • Developmental language disorder
  • Guidelines
  • Multilingualism


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