A 17-year-old has learnt to live her life in "catch up" after being diagnosed with a speech disorder.

Ellen Dormer has spent her life struggling with her speech and was diagnosed just three years ago with developmental language disorder (DLD).

Ellen, from Thornton, first struggled pronouncing words when she was just two-years-old and has spent the last 15 years visiting Sefton Community Speech and Language Therapy via Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

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Ellen's mum, Roisin Dormer, has told the ECHO: "From the age of two she had speech and language difficulties but wasn't diagnosed with developmental language disorder until about three years ago.

"This is only the fourth year that she has known that she has this condition. Ellen said when she got the diagnosis and she looked at it online she was crying.

"I thought 'have we done the wrong thing?' but she said no, they were happy tears because now she knows she's not on her own and it's not just her.

"It's quite a powerful thing. With the help of her uncle they put together her own website to help other young people and teachers. From that she really has tried to gain a voice. It's very hard when you're the quiet one to not be overlooked and be invisible.

"She didn't have the best of schooling so for Ellen it's to make sure that it doesn't happen to other people. She wants people to learn from the mistakes. It's sort of been her mission now for the last couple of years."

Ellen is making an impact in the community, starting with her college
Ellen is making an impact in the community, starting with her college

Ellen has difficulties talking and understanding language, but is excelling in college where she studies creative media.

Roisin, 50, told the ECHO: "Because it's an invisible disability people think 'they look normal what are they on about' but Ellen has described it as when you have something on the tip of your tongue and you can't get it out, that's what it's like for her.

"The brain's a fog and when she's spoken to it's like her brain is melting and needs to reset. She's done a series of posters that are quite powerful because we assume we know what it's like for somebody who has got the condition to show it.

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"It's to have awareness with the schools, that was the aim for this year because that's where the link needs to be. Teachers need top be aware of it.

"I'm a teacher myself. Ellen wrote a poem that's gone out in teachers packs. The other thing is for it to be more known in the community so parents are more aware.

Ellen Dormer has attended speech and language therapy for 15 years and is now raising awareness for people with similar conditions to her
Ellen Dormer has attended speech and language therapy for 15 years and is now raising awareness for people with similar conditions to her

"Once they get to secondary school their behaviour and things like that could be masking a language disorder rather than the kids just being naughty."

Ellen is now working continuously to raise awareness around language difficulties.

She has designed posters, written poems and designed her own website, with her wanting to make life easier for those like her.

But it wasn't always this easy for Ellen.

When she became a bit older towards the end of primary school, it became clear that she was different to her peers.

Secondary school teacher Roisin told the ECHO: "It was very frustrating for her. If you saw videos of her it would break your heart. I was watching one the other day.

"When she was younger in primary school Ellen didn't know. It wasn't apparent how different she was from other people. Ellen was a real daredevil, she'd be dancing, laughing, but when it became more apparent in late juniors early secondary [school] the difference is obvious.

"They're able to talk ten to the dozen, they're able to socialise, Ellen hasn't got that. The biggest impact is the loneliness. When she was very little in infants she used to have a bit of frustration because she couldn't get the words out.

"She'd get very emotional from that but we've gone full circle now because she's recently been diagnosed with selective mutism.

"Now, in college for instance, she won't speak at all. It's heartbreaking. There are some really easy fixes that you can put into a classroom and put into everyday life that can help all these children such as slow down your talking, when you ask the question offer alternative answers, pause in between sentences so it gives them a bit of time to catch up.

"They don't cost anything and could help a lot of them to be able to participate more. I think for Ellen it can be very lonely but people who know Ellen say she's one of the strongest people and very resilient because she's had to put up with so much."

To visit Ellen's website, click here.

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