When a child is referred to see a Speech Pathologist, it is typically because the parent or another important person in that child’s life (e.g. relative, educator) is concerned about the child’s communication skills.
An assessment is conducted in order to get a comprehensive picture of a child’s communication skills and to determine the impact of any difficulties on the child’s everyday life.
If the assessment confirms a disorder in any area of communication (e.g. language, speech, voice stuttering, etc.) the assessment results will be used to guide treatment recommendations.
How we conduct assessments:
We individualise every assessment because each child is unique.
We will tailor the assessment based on factors including: your child’s age; linguistic background; any diagnoses; background history; your concerns, values and priorities, and the severity of the suspected problem.
We conduct the assessment in order to better understand your child’s:
- strengths and abilities
These are some of the ways that we collect information as part of a comprehensive assessment:
Questionnaires and interviews
Prior to attending your first session, we will ask you to complete a questionnaire to gain background information about your child including their: developmental history; medical history; languages spoken; interests and preferences, etc.
We will discuss your answers with you during your initial visit to clarify any information.
We will ask you questions about your perception of the problem, your values and your expectations of this service.
We may request your permission to send a questionnaire or to interview your child’s teacher or educator, if this is relevant.
The information that we collect from interviews and questionnaires supplements the results of any test, which, although important, only gives us a “snapshot” of your child’s performance on one day.
This is otherwise known as “formal testing”. To be valid, standardised tests must be carried out according to strict rules. Standardised tests are either:
Norm-referenced: they compare your child’s test result to the results of other children of the same age, who completed the assessment under the same conditions
Criterion-referenced: they compare your child’s results to certain criteria, such as: ability to use a particular grammatical form
We may collect a sample of your child’s language while they play or while they retell a story. These kinds of language samples are very informative because they reflect how your child normally communicates in these typical activities. Language sampling complements findings from other tests conducted.
We may use other tests to investigate your child’s specific areas of difficulty in greater depth. This is useful for prioritising goals and it allows us to collect base-line data.
Oral Musculature Assessment (OMA)
We will evaluate the appearance and movement of your child’s oral structures (e.g. teeth, lips, tongue, hard palate, soft palate). It is important to rule out any issues with the structures we use for talking in the assessment phase.
If you are concerned about your child’s ability to participate socially or academically at their educational setting (e.g., preschool, school) we may ask your permission to observe your child in this setting. This will allow us to collect data and to see exactly how your child’s communication difficulties impact on their ability to participate in this other environment.
This is mainly used with older children who can reflect on their difficulties and who can articulate their goals. It is important for the older child to be included in the assessment process to voice their concerns and preferences.