What to Expect From A Speech-Language Evaluation

What to Expect From A Speech-Language Evaluation
When a child or adult is experiencing difficulty understanding or using language, correctly producing speech sounds, demonstrating stuttering, voice problems, feeding or swallowing difficulties a speech-language pathologist attempts to diagnose the problem and design treatment procedures in an effort to improve functional ability. This article will explain what to expect from a speech-language evaluation.

Your first step is to select a speech-language pathologist (SLP) or therapy center to conduct the evaluation. Many people ask their physician or trust "word of mouth" referrals to find a therapist, however there are several criteria to consider before selecting an SLP. Please refer to my article, "Finding an SLP" to help you make the right decision. Once you have found a trusted therapist, call to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.

After the appointment has been set, the SLP or therapy office staff typically mail out intake information forms for you to complete prior to the evaluation. These forms will help the therapist with selecting testing materials that target appropriate activities to be performed during the evaluation as well as provide pertinent back ground information regarding the client in need of services.

The SLP may call to conduct a brief telephone interview prior to the evaluation if he or she has questions regarding the intake forms.

The next step is the evaluation itself. The evaluation maybe held at a therapy center or office, your home or for young children, at their preschool; depending upon your preference and the SLP's flexibility. At the start of the evaluation the SLP will typically take a few minutes to establish rapport with the adult or child to help him or her feel comfortable during the evaluation.

The SLP will generally administer a formal test (perhaps using standardized tests) when assessing an adult. For young children formal tests are often administered as well. However, due to time constraints and a child's developmental abilities the SLP may choose to complete a developmental checklist based on observations, probes and parent interview.

When assessing children, informal play routines designed to encourage interaction with the examiner and elicit language from the child are also an important part of the evaluation. The SLP may also obtain a speech and/or language sample during these interactions. An oral motor examination is also performed during most evaluations to determine if oral structures and function are within normal limits.

Following the evaluation, the SLP will write a formal report stating the results of the testing. The report will include recommendations such as whether or not therapy is warranted, how many days a week the client should be seen and how long each therapy session should last. The report will also include specific measurable goals to be addressed in therapy. This report is typically mailed to you within 10 business days of the evaluation.

Your SLP should consult with you regarding the types of goals to be addressed in therapy prior to finalizing his or her report. It is important for you to review the goals carefully and discuss the importance of each goal with the SLP. Share the goals you would like your loved one to work towards in therapy with your SLP so they can be incorporated into the plan. Discuss the goals with other family members and see what they feel is important for him or her to learn. Therapy goals are the blue print for success; as an active partner in the therapy process you must include your hopes and goals into the plan.

Note: You may choose to first seek treatment through the public school system for children and young adults under the age of 22. Speech therapy is available to your child free of charge as part of his or her right to obtain a free, appropriate public education (Public Law 94-142). . Your child is eligible to receive a speech-language evaluation through the public schools even if he or she attends a private school or is home schooled (in most cases). If your child is age birth to 3-years-old, the IDEA Part C Early Intervention Program provides therapy to children who qualify free of charge (eligibility through Part C is based on the degree of severity of a child's delay or disorder).

To learn about speech-language therapy read my article,"What to Expect From Speech Therapy"

To find a qualified speech-language pathologist in your area go to the American Speech & Hearing Association (ASHA) website at http://asha.org/proserv/.

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