What to expect from a Speech and Language Assessment?

By Kate
Speech Therapy

You may decide to have your child assessed for a number of reasons. Perhaps a nursery teacher/ school teacher has highlighted some concerns and advised you to get a second opinion? Maybe your child is not speaking and using their language the same way their brother and sister did/ the same way a friend or family member’s child is?

From a therapist point of view we want your experience to be as smooth and hassle free as possible. We understand that you may be feeling stressed and anxious about the assessment. The following is some information to help you prepare.

When you decide to schedule an assessment it is important to do it at a time when you feel your child will be rested and at their best. This might be in the morning time or in the afternoon time after your child has had a nap. You will know what’s best from your child’s own routine and at what time of the day your child is generally most alert.

Do you know where the clinic is located? Have you been to this area before? Is there any important details you need to factor in e.g. the parking availability or potential delays with traffic at your scheduled time? I would recommend getting to the clinic five or ten minutes before your appointment time to allow time to complete any administration paperwork.

When you meet the therapist they will need to get some background information from you. They will ask you questions about your child’s background history and whether they have ever had any operations or taken any medication? Have they had their hearing checked? Is there any family history of speech and language difficulties? Each therapist will have their own checklist of information they want to find out.

Once the therapist has an idea of your main areas of concern they will want to complete an assessment of your child’s communication skills. This may relate to their articulation of speech sounds, understanding of language and ability to connect language together in sentences, fluency and or phonological awareness skills. Sometimes a therapist will feel that they will gather enough information from completing an informal assessment of these skills. Other times a therapist may decide to complete a standardized assessment.

A standardized assessment is an assessment that must be run in a particular way each time it is administered and follows a specific administration protocol. After the assessment is completed it is scored up and your child’s scores are compared to scores of other children of a similar age. It allows the therapist to get a measure of whether your child’s difficulties are normal for their age or whether there may be a more significant delay or difficulty.

A therapist will also make observations of your child’s use of language in play, your child’s play skills and social skills. The assessment is a good opportunity for the therapist to build some rapport with your child and establish themselves as a positive experience for your child.

Following the assessment the therapist will often give you some verbal feedback about their observations. Some advice and recommendations/ strategies that will support development of skills at home will often be made. A recommendation of whether further therapy is needed will also be given. A therapist may wish to contact your child’s nursery/ school teacher to get their feedback about how your child is doing in a group setting. This will be discussed with you before any communication is made.

A report is written up detailing the areas assessed and your child’s outcomes. This includes information about your child’s strengths and areas that would benefit from some additional support in therapy. Spending some time reading through the report should give you a more holistic picture of your child’s abilities. It should also help to guide you in deciding what the next steps will look like.

Thanks for reading!

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