Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Speech Testing - What to Expect

After looking at the speech sound chart, if you have concerns with your child's speech you can have your child evaluated. I frequently meet parents who are concerned but not sure if they want to pursue the evaluation. However, after talking with them I have come to the conclusion that sometimes you just want to know... and it doesn't hurt. The evaluation should be a pleasant experience for everyone involved! Your child will get to look at child friendly pictures and be the center of attention for a while. The speech therapist gets to meet your child and have fun getting to know him or her. Then, in the end, you will have a concrete number that tells you where your child's speech skills fall in relationship to children of the same age and gender.

So, what information is used when determining if a child has a speech sound disorder or delay? First a child needs to be evaluated by a qualified Speech Language Pathologist. They should do a thorough case history, evaluate the sounds and compare them to other children of the same age, determine a level of intelligibility and then establish if there is a disorder or a delay. That last part will be determined based on the information given by the researchers/test developers. They give the information - for their test - that tells if the child's speech falls below the average range, within the average range or above the average range.

After the evaluation is complete, you should receive a report that states all of the tests that were administered, the results and what they mean. This report should also have goals or recommendations. However, I feel the most important part of this report is when the therapist goes over the report and explains what it all means. There is no good substitute for sitting together to review the information and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Once you have the information, you can decide what is best for your child and your family. I had a family recently who had well meaning family members comment on the child's speech sound errors. She was tested and all of her errors were developmentally appropriate. This family was then able to have confidence when they said "She's doing fine. She is doing exactly what she should be doing for her age." There was another family, who had some concerns and were urged by their pediatrician to pursue speech testing. The results indicated that there was a slight delay with some of her sounds. After receiving the evaluation report, they have been able to work with her in conjunction with speech therapy to help develop her delayed sounds.

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to contact me. I want to help you feel confident when making the decision to test or not test. 

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