Speech and language are important communication skills. When there appear to be issues related to communicating effectively, a speech and language evaluation may be useful. It can help determine a child’s strengths and challenges in this and other areas of development. This evaluation can assist a practitioner in determining if therapy will be necessary.
Who Conducts Evaluations?
A qualified speech pathologist or speech therapist will conduct all evaluations and therapies. These professionals possess a Master’s degree in their areas of expertise as well as the appropriate certifications to practice.
Evaluation Age of Children
Children can be evaluated for speech and language disorders at any age. Typically these evaluations are not conducted before a child is at least 18 months of age because this within the normal age for speech development. Elementary school aged children may receive referrals for evaluation from their teachers since this is when communications disorders may first become a problem.
Parts of a Speech and Language Assessment
- Background information may be collected and can include such things as: birth history, age milestones were met, and if therapy has been used before.
- Family interviews will help the therapist see a bigger picture of the child. Interviews will focus on issues such as specific examples of challenges, goals and expectations of parents, and how relationships of child may be affected by communication disorders. The child may or may not participate in this discussion depending on age and ability.
- A review of auditory, visual, motor, and cognitive skills may help the therapist see the whole child and will help when determining speech and language challenges.
- Observation of the child in natural settings may take place in the home, school, or wherever the child spends a majority of time. The therapist may also interact with the child to develop a rapport before formal testing
Testing of specific areas will help a therapist determine needs. Areas may include:
- Oral motor
- Expressive language
- Receptive language
- Speech production
- Speech fluency
- Pragmatics and social use of language
- Feeding and swallowing
- Reading and writing
A comprehensive report will be generated after all evaluations are complete. These will be discussed in detail with the parents and recommendations for further action will be given when necessary.
When communication is not effective, it is hard for kids to learn and interact with their teachers, peers, and parents. An evaluation can help everyone to understand the needs of an individual child so that appropriate steps can be taken to strengthen a child’s skills.