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

Saboor Hamdani, Angel Chan, Rachel Kan, Shula Chiat, Natalia Gagarina, Ewa Haman, Magdalena Łuniewska, Kamila Polišenská, Sharon Armon-Lotem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: 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. Method: 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). Result: 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. Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Early online date20 May 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • developmental language disorder
  • LITMUS battery
  • multilingual ethnic minority children
  • telepractice
  • Urdu


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