As speech therapists, we frequently encounter the question, "Does my child need speech therapy?" Many parents express concerns like, "I can't understand my child," "My child isn't talking as much as their peers," "My child seems to have trouble understanding me," or "My child has difficulty eating." If you have similar worries about your child's speech and language development, it might be time to consider a comprehensive speech and language evaluation. We understand that the idea of having your child evaluated can be daunting, but rest assured, we are here to guide you through the process.
The Role of a Speech Therapist:
Speech Therapists or Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) do more than just help with correct sound production. While that is an important aspect of their work, SLPs can assist your child in various other areas, such as:
Expressive Language: How your child uses words to express themselves.
Receptive Language: Your child's ability to hear and understand spoken language.
Articulation: The production of speech sounds.
Fluency: The smoothness and continuity of speech, which may involve addressing stuttering.
Voice: This includes aspects like voice quality, pitch, loudness, and vocal hygiene.
Auditory Processing: Addressing difficulties in processing auditory information.
AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication): Implementing communication methods for non-verbal communication, such as picture communication or communication devices.
Feeding/Oral Motor Skills: Assisting with chewing, swallowing, and advancing the child's diet if they face challenges in these areas.
Scheduling a Speech Therapy Evaluation for Your Child:
To initiate the process of having your child evaluated for speech therapy, reach out to your child's primary care doctor for a speech therapy referral. Alternatively, you can contact our office directly at 918-615-6492 ext. 2, and our client coordinators will assist you with the necessary steps to schedule the evaluation.
What to Expect During Your Child's Evaluation:
Surprisingly, speech therapy evaluations can be quite enjoyable! Prior to the evaluation date, your child's therapist may get in touch with you to gather additional information that will aid in conducting a thorough assessment, addressing all your concerns.
During the evaluation appointment, the therapist will have a conversation with you to understand your worries, your child's goals for therapy, and review relevant medical history. The therapist will interact with your child through play or movement activities to assess their communication skills in a natural context. Additionally, the therapist will conduct a formal speech assessment, if possible, to evaluate your child's skills in the area of concern.
You shouldn't worry if the evaluation appears to be mainly playful; this approach helps the SLP gain valuable insights into your child's abilities. Rest assured, the therapist will continually evaluate and assess your child's skills throughout the process. Towards the end of the evaluation, the therapist may also examine your child's mouth to ensure that all the necessary structures for speech and communication are functioning properly.
After the Evaluation:
Once the assessments and evaluation are complete, the therapist will discuss their findings with you and make recommendations regarding the necessity of further treatment. You can ask any questions you may have about the evaluation process.
Based on the evaluation, your therapist will inform you if weekly therapy appointments are recommended. If ongoing treatment is advised and you haven't already scheduled a weekly appointment, your therapist and patient coordinator will assist you with that process. Your therapist may also provide you with activities and strategies to implement at home to target any areas of concern outside of the clinic environment.
If, after the evaluation, your therapist determines that treatment is not required, they may suggest monitoring your child's development and checking back in six months to a year if concerns persist.