An all-inclusive assessment conducted by a speech and language pathologist in regard to the communication skills of a child is known as a speech and language evaluation. During the assessment, the specialist will evaluate the child’s response to the following:
- Receptive language – that is his ability to understand the language
- Expressive language – his capability in using the language
- Pragmatic language – social communication skills
- Articulation – clarity in producing the sounds
- Resonance, fluency, and voice
It may take an hour or so to assess a 12-month-old child, however, older children may take about 3 hours. Sometimes, the requirement to assess the child over multiple sessions might also arise.
What is the importance of speech and language evaluation?
Speech and language evaluation is an important tool to determine if a child requires speech therapy or not. It helps clinicians with detailed information to diagnose speech and language disorders in children. For instance, a child might experience expressive language delay or childhood apraxia of speech. In such cases, the clinicians will be able to diagnose it with the help of the evaluation and recommend treatments to overcome the condition.
In addition to this, the evaluation also helps in providing detailed insight into the child’s strengths and weaknesses. This helps in focussing on the areas that require subsequent treatments. The data collected will also be helpful in determining how helpful the therapy is. It will also help in measuring the progress of the child. In order to gather information of the child’s communication skills, an SLP will use the following parameters:
- Parental inputs
- Observational scales
- Standardized tests
When to seek a speech and language evaluation?
Are you concerned about the communication skills of your child? If yes then speak to a speech pathologist for an evaluation of the child. However, this does not mean that your child requires speech therapy. On the contrary, the evaluation will help you understand the current language skills of your child. You will also get to know how intervention can help your child in case therapy is necessary.
How frequently should a child receive a speech and language evaluation?
Prior to starting any therapy session, the child must be evaluated. In case the child has already had an evaluation within the last 6 months or has had an all-inclusive school-based evaluation then it is not required. Depending on the age of the child and their level of language skills, the child may be recommended to take a speech and language assessment every 6 or 12 months. This helps in documenting the progress of the child and assesses the goals. It also helps in the modification of the treatment plan.
The evaluation process
The speech and language evaluation process include the following:
Reason for seeking the evaluation
It is important for the speech and language pathologist to understand why the family is seeking an evaluation. During the discussion, the pathologist will try to obtain detailed information about the family background and medical history.
Observation of the child
Before the SLP recommends any treatment plan, he will observe the child’s behavior toward the members of his family. The pathologist will also observe the child’s reaction to people whom they are not familiar with and how they play with toys.
Irrespective of the age of the child and his ability, it is important for the child to take standardized testing. The purpose of the test is to gather thorough information about the child’s language and speech skills. While selecting the standardized tests for the child, the following aspects must be taken into consideration:
- The vision of the child
- Hearing ability
These aspects are important to consider as they have a significant influence on the performance of the child.
Besides, incorporating standardized tests, it is also essential to conduct an informal test as well. Although standardized tests are an important part of the speech-language evaluation, the scores of the test cannot be interpreted as the actual picture. Informal assessment, on the other hand, allows the therapist to understand how the child plays with toys and how actively the child participates in conversations and other activities. At times, the therapist might recommend a trial therapy to evaluate how the child responds to the activities.
After the complete assessment of the child, the therapist will review the findings with the family members. While reviewing the results with the parents, the SLP must include the results of both tests. During the discussion with the families, the specialist will convey if speech therapy is necessary for the child or not. They will also advise if there is a requirement for any referrals such as referring to audiology or ENT. The SLP will then provide a written report which will include all the information about their findings and the goals to achieve through the therapy. They will also advise certain strategies which the parents must implement at home.
Is it possible to carry out the evaluation virtually?
Yes. it is possible to conduct the speech and evaluation tests virtually. Although it might look a little different from physical evaluations, nevertheless, it is also equally effective. Evaluating through an online platform can also help in determining if the child requires speech therapy or not.