Speech Pathology Assessments for Children
Once you’ve booked an appointment with us, here’s what will happen during the initial consultation/assessment session:
- Before you attend your first session, your Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) will review the case history form that you would have completed online prior to your first appointment. This helps the SLP to have an understanding of your child’s development and current difficulties in preparation for choosing the best-suited assessments and materials/toys on the day.
- The SLP will also review any reports you’ve sent us from other professionals, such as Paediatricians, Occupational Therapists and teachers if these were provided ahead of time.
- When you first arrive, our lovely admin team will welcome you and let the SLP know you have arrived. We will let you and your child settle in the waiting room for a few minutes to ensure your child is comfortable in a new environment rather than immediately asking you to come to the therapy room.
- When the SLP is ready to see you, they will introduce themselves and show you to the therapy room. Once in the room, there will be some toys available for them to play with or they can sit with you while the SLP goes through some questions.
- Your SLP may ask you more questions about your child’s medical history and developmental milestones to expand on the case history form you had completed to ensure they have all the information needed as part of the assessment process.
- the SLP will also ask you about your concerns, and what you’ve observed about your child’s communication and learning, so they can get a better understanding of your child’s skills and challenges.
- While all this is happening, they’ll give your child an activity or toy to help them feel more comfortable being in a new environment and seeing a new person. This helps your child settle so he or she is ready to engage in more structured activities. Sometimes however, it’s more important to hold off on the questions at the start so that the SLP can focus on your child in getting to know them. Each child is different and some may be a little shy or nervous about meeting a new person, so we try to avoid any pressure on a child by forcing them to interact with us if they are not yet ready for that. Your SLP will definitely never force your child to talk if they are not ready or able to.
Once the SLP has gone through the questions and your child is ready as well, the SLP will assess your child to determine their strengths and weaknesses in the areas of concern you identified earlier. Depending on your child’s age and the areas of concern, speech pathology assessments for children may include:
- Parental reports
- Play-based activities
- Formal assessments
They’ll conduct a number of different tests depending on the areas of concern they’re looking at. Please check out our Assessment Packages for an indication of what’s involved. If formal assessments are used, they provide scores and a way to measure your child’s ability for their age in the areas they’re testing. They usually involve giving your child pictures to point to or questions to answer about using language.
If your child isn’t developmentally ready to complete a formal assessment, your SLP will conduct an informal assessment instead. This usually involves a play-based activity with a range of toys, with the SLP collecting information in a variety of ways. They may interact directly with your child, or observe your child interacting with toys and/or family members in the room.
Does the parent need to be present at the appointment?
Yes, we prefer it if a parent is present in all sessions. We need to obtain information from you (as described above) and most children tend to be more comfortable with a parent around, especially in the very first session when everything is all very new for them. It also helps you to be in the room so that you can see how your child manages the tests/activities and to ask your SLP any questions or get them to clarify any information for you.
If your child is a little older and doesn’t want you to be in the room, that is more than fine too, however your SLP will usually spend the first few minutes explaining what will happen in the session and ask any questions (as described above) that may be relevant. Then for the actual assessment part, you can wait in the waiting room while the SLP and your child go through the assessments. We do ask you to please remain in the clinic, even if you are not in the therapy room directly so that we can ask you to come back in at any time or in the event of an emergency, we know where to find you.
What happens at the end of the assessment?
Depending on the areas of concern that we are assessing your child for, some assessments may be completed in the first appointment while others will take more appointments to complete everything. This is soley dependent on your child’s age, number and types of areas being assessed and your child’s focus and attention with getting through the required assessments. Your SLP will let you know whether or not further assessments may be required, but where possible, we try to let you know in advance what to expect. However, be prepared that sometimes things may change and it may take more or less time than what we initially predicted.
Once the assessments have been completed however, your SLP will give you some feedback about how they feel your child performed during the tests. However, most of our assessments will take additional time to score and fully analyse the data which cannot be completed in the appointment itself as this is not always a quick task. Your SLP will spend some time after your appointment to do this and all results will be discussed with you in an upcoming appointment. If there are lots of results to discuss from multiple assessments completed, we can book a 30 – 60 minute Parent Feedback Session to go through everything in detail. Your child does not need to be present for this and in some cases, this may be preferred so that you can more easily discuss your child’s results with the SLP without your child overhearing everything. All assessment results will be written in a detailed report, but it’s important that you go through the results with your SLP to understand what it all means and discuss the goals moving forward.
A note regarding our written assessment reports
All initial assessments require a written report. Depending on your child’s areas of difficulties, some children require only 1 hour of assessment, while others may require 2 or 3 hours. This is dependent on various factors such as the child’s age, the number of areas we are assessing and also how cooperative they are in the assessment and/or how fast they respond to some of the questions. The assessment report will be written up once ALL assessments have been completed and typically takes between 3 – 4 weeks to write. The time it takes to write the reports is based on how many assessments were completed, the complexity of assessments completed, as well as having to write these reports throughout the week in between other therapy appointments that we are tending to. Should you require a copy of your child’s report urgently (less than 3 weeks), please talk to us as we may be able to arrange this for you. This is subject to the clinician’s availability at the time because report writing time has to be scheduled into their diaries and is dependent on their available work hours and other appointments already booked into the workweek. An additional fee of $100 for urgent reports will apply.
What happens if my child is shy and reluctant to talk to strangers or loses concentration quickly? Is it still worth doing an assessment?
Definitely. Our Speech Language Pathologists are skilled and experienced at working with a variety of children, and we have a range of strategies to encourage your child to participate. We can entice even the most reluctant child to participate in our games and activities, and children often find it an enjoyable experience. We will, however, NEVER force your child to talk. This puts unnecessary pressure on them and will not be an effective way for us to assess their communication skills. It’s all about building trust and rapport with your child and making them feel at ease. If you know in advance that your child may be shy or reluctant to talk, please let us know when you book your appointment so that we can be prepared for this.