What to Expect At Your Child’s Speech Therapy Evaluation
A common question we often hear as speech therapists both in and out of the clinic setting is, “Does my child need speech therapy?” The most common concerns prompting this question can range from “I can’t understand my child,” to “My child is not talking as much as their peers,” to “My child just doesn’t seem to understand what I am saying,” and even “My child has difficulty eating.” If you have found that you have similar concerns about your child’s speech and language development it may be time to consider a comprehensive speech and language evaluation. Oftentimes having your child evaluated can seem daunting and overwhelming. And that’s ok! Read on to learn what to expect from your child’s evaluation and how a speech therapist can help.
What Does a Speech Therapist Do?
Speech Therapists or Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP’s) can help with so much more than just producing sounds correctly. While that can be a big part of a speech therapist’s job, SLP’s can work with your child in many other areas including:
Expressive Language: how your child uses words to express himself/herself
Receptive Language: your child’s ability to hear and comprehend spoken language
Articulation: the production of speech sounds
Fluency: refers to the continuity, rate, smoothness in speech (ex. stuttering)
Voice: this can include voice quality, vocal hygiene, pitch, loudness, or vocal effort
Auditory Processing: your child may have difficulty processing what they hear
AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication): AAC refers to various communication methods used to help one communicate without talking (ex. Picture communication, communication devices)
Feeding/Oral Motor Skills: if your child has difficulty chewing, swallowing, or advancing their diet an SLP may be able to help
How To Schedule a Speech Therapy Evaluation for your Child:
If you are ready to take the next steps in having your child seen for a speech therapy evaluation, contact your child’s primary care doctor for a speech therapy referral. You may also call our office and one of our patient coordinators can assist you with next steps and help get your child scheduled for an evaluation.
What To Expect From Your Child’s Evaluation:
Believe or not, speech therapy evaluations are actually FUN! Prior to your evaluation date, your child’s therapist may contact you in order to find out any additional information they might need in order to complete a thorough and comprehensive evaluation which addresses all of your concerns.
At your evaluation appointment, your therapist will talk further with you about your concerns, what goals you and your child have for therapy, and review pertinent medical history. The therapist will interact with your child through play or movement activities in order to understand their communication skills in a more natural context. If your child is able, the therapist will administer a speech assessment to formally evaluate their skills in your area of concern.
Don’t be alarmed if your child’s evaluation looks a lot like they’re “just playing”. This is sometimes how an SLP can learn the most about your child! You can be assured that your therapist is constantly evaluating and assessing your child’s skills. Our goal is to make the evaluation fun and comfortable for your child. Finally, the therapist may take a look inside your child’s mouth to simply ensure that all of the structures needed for speech and communication are intact and functioning properly.
Once the assessments and evaluation are complete the therapist will review their findings and make recommendations as to whether further treatment is necessary and answer any questions you may have about the evaluation process.
What Happens After the Evaluation:
At your evaluation, your therapist will let you know if weekly therapy appointments are recommended. If ongoing treatment is recommended and you have not already scheduled a weekly appointment time, your therapist and patient coordinator will help you through that process. Your therapist may also provide you with activities and strategies to implement at home to target any areas of concern outside of the clinic environment.
If after the evaluation, your therapist does not recommend treatment, they may ask you to continue to monitor your child’s development and check back in six months to a year, for example, if concerns persist.
As a parent or caregiver, you know your child best. If you have any concerns about their speech and language development do not hesitate to pursue an evaluation. SLP’s are here to guide you, answer any questions, and make sure that your child receives the best care possible! We can’t wait to see you!
Elizabeth Vincent, M.S., CCC-SLP