Evaluations are critical to ascertain whether or not a speech-language disorder or delay is present. The evaluation can determine the severity of the problem and describe the distinctive ways in which the disorder manifests itself in your child. Both formal testing (standardized instruments) and informal assessment (e.g., language sampling) may be used. If speech or language intervention is required, the evaluation is invaluable in determining goals. After the evaluation, Ms. Koss will schedule a meeting with the child’s parents to go over the results of the evaluation and discuss recommendations. After that, a detailed report will be written.
Speech-Language and Literacy Evaluation
This comprehensive evaluation usually takes a minimum of three hours and can be divided into more than one session to suit your child’s needs. Some of the areas that may be evaluated include comprehension of and verbal production of:
- Grammatical Morphemes - the smallest units of language that signal differences in meaning.
Compare: “The fish swim in the pond.” vs. “The fish swims in the pond.”
The singular and the plural forms of “fish” are identical, but we can figure out there is only one fish in the second sentence due to the “s” at the end of “swims.” (Please note, the example above and those that follow may not be applicable to your child’s current age and language stage.)
- Syntactic Structures – sentences and their building blocks.
Compare: “The puppy is pulling Sophia.” vs. “Sophia is pulled by the puppy.”
Even though the word order is different, the puppy is doing the pulling in both sentences.
- Semantic Concepts - the meanings of words and phrases. Some words are labels for tangible things like kaleidoscope or Pokemon. Other words define abstract concepts such as honesty and pride. For some words, like heart, we may have to go beyond their literal meaning to understand them in different contexts.
Compare: “The heart pumps blood.” vs. “She touched my heart.”
- Suprasegmental Features – voice intonation and word emphasis that affect meaning. The same words can send different messages.
Compare: “Don’t tell me he ate that cake.” (I was saving it for the party.) vs. “Don’t tell me he ate that cake.” (It was a recipe for the dogs at doggie daycare!)
- Narrative Language – understanding and constructing longer messages. Listening to a story and following its development, understanding the motivation of characters, and applying world knowledge can be challenging. The ability to answer questions about a story, retell a short story, or compose an original story are aspects of narrative language skills.
- Reading Decoding, Reading Comprehension, Spelling and Written Expression.
Until about fourth grade, children often can get by in reading by remembering sight words and using context to guess at unfamiliar words. But if they haven’t mastered phonemic decoding and morphophonemic rules, they run into trouble when they are confronted with less familiar words from their school curricula. This reading assessment takes an in-depth look at component reading skills, including comprehension.
The writing assessment analyzes spelling, punctuation, and most important, sentence formulation. The latter category may reveal use of sentence fragments and run-on sentences or may show deficiencies in forming compound or complex sentences. The ability to organize a paragraph and describe events sequentially are assessed as well.
- Speech-Sound Assessment – an assessment of phoneme production in various syllable positions and consonant clusters, where applicable.
- Related Areas -Depending upon your child’s history and presenting issues, other areas may be assessed. Examples include:
- Auditory Processing - Although only an audiologist can diagnose a Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), a speech-language evaluation is often the first place to identify potential auditory processing problems.
- Social Communication Skills – pragmatic, functional language such as initiating conversation, maintaining the topic and taking the perspective of others can be assessed.
If you feel your child’s language production, language comprehension, and literacy skills are good but you are concerned about his or her speech-sound production, a Speech-Only Evaluation may be performed instead of a comprehensive speech-language battery. This evaluation seeks to determine whether the speech-sound difficulties your child is experiencing is due to a phonological process disorder, an articulatory placement problem, child apraxia of speech (CAS) or another cause.