The first speech-language session is typically a formal assessment time where information is gathered and testing is completed with your child. It is a casual, relaxed atmosphere giving you the opportunity for you to express your concerns and ask any questions you may have.
In order for the therapist to have an overall understanding of your child’s speech, language, and overall communication skills we often assess the following key areas:
• Attention and listening
• Understanding of language
• Expressive language
• Speech/articulation and motor movements (mouth/lips/tongue/jaw)
• Play skills
• Social Skills
• Voice quality
How Will The Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Assess These Key Areas?
Gathering information and parent questionnaires
The SLP will ask you about your concerns, how you think therapy can help your child and what your main goal is for your child regarding their communication. It is a good idea to go in to the session with an idea of what support you would like and the next steps you would like your child to achieve in their development. Having answers to these types of questions allows the clinician to mesh age appropriate goals to fit with the goals you see as most important and that fit with your family and lifestyle.
A family case history is critical in gathering essential background information that may have contributed to any delays in speech and/or language; you will be asked questions about:
- Birth history
- Medical history
- Family history of speech, language and communication delay, including hearing loss
- Developmental milestones
This information allows the SLP to pick up on any possible underlying reasons for your child’s speech and language difficulties.
The SLP will interact with your child and do some informal playing alongside your child, using age appropriate activities. This may include toys, games, picture cards and books.
Interactions between parent(s) and child are also often observed.
Throughout the assessment the SLP will be writing down notes in response to their questions as well as noting their observations. This allows the SLP to record accurate information about your child’s speech, language and communication abilities.
After all information is gathered and any formal testing is completed, the SLP will take a few moments to score any tests while providing further opportunities for the parent(s) and child to interact and play with the toys in the therapy room. You will be given feedback and specific explanation of the test results and scores that were obtained and the impact they are having on your child’s communication. You will be asked if you would like a written report highlighting your child’s strengths and area of need. You are able to share this with teaching staff, childcare providers, your family physician and other professionals. A discussion about whether individual therapy, group therapy or a home program is warranted. There are times where children are meeting age expectations/norms and may only require monitoring to ensure continued development occurs over the next few months. You will always play an active part in the decision making of your child’s therapy plan and the frequency of visits if that is what is decided.