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UW-Eau Claire department sponsors downtown lights for a cause

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire’s communications sciences and disorders department is participating in an international light-up project to bring awareness to developmental language disorder. As part of the project, the Phoenix Park bridge will be lighted in purple and yellow on Oct. 16.

Lights on the Phoenix Park bridge, Pablo Center at the Confluence and Haymarket Plaza will be aglow in purple and yellow Friday, Oct. 16, to bring awareness to a “hidden” language disorder.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire department of communication sciences and disorders is sponsoring the light display downtown as part of a community outreach project to bring attention to developmental language disorder. Similar lighted events will mark International Developmental Language Disorder Day in 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland and England.

Dr. Brian Orr, an assistant professor in UW-Eau Claire’s communications sciences and disorders department, says his department is participating in the light-up project because members believe in the importance of raising awareness of DLD.

“This is the first year our department has taken a formal role in DLD Awareness Day,” Orr says. “However, the CSD faculty, staff and students work to help individuals with language impairments and their families on a daily basis.”

DLD affects a person’s ability to talk or understand language and makes it difficult for children to express their ideas and feelings. Orr said research on DLD shows the disorder affects two children in every classroom of 30 students, or about 7% of children.

A major challenge, Orr says, is that the underlying language problems that many of the children have go unidentified, making DLD a “hidden disorder.”

Orr says DLD has “significant repercussions for a person’s academic outcomes, mental health and employment.”

Anyone with questions about DLD and services can contact the UW-Eau Claire Center for Communication Disorders at 715-836-4186.