Early Communication Assessment
In any line of work we as professionals become accustomed to casually using a set of vocabulary which becomes the norm within our field, but could mean anything to people outside of it. Despite priding ourselves as communication experts, SLT’s too tend to use vocabulary which as a word in itself is understood by clients, but do we really explain the meaning in a practical ‘hands on’ sense so people availing of our services know what to expect when they arrive at the door.
In a series of blog posts we will hopefully dispel the uncertainty around the different types of ‘Speech & Language Assessment’ and explore some of the many phrases we have heard from anxious parents and clients on arrival for initial assessment.
This blog post covers Early Communication assessment
‘Ummm….I’m not sure if I am wasting your time, there isn’t anything to assess, he doesn’t have any words yet’
For a child who has limited words or no language, they require an early communication assessment. Did you know that communication skills emerge in the first few weeks of life, not just when speech and language begins to develop. There is a hierarchy of cognitive and communication skill development which are required before a child is ready to develop language. These include eye-contact and social intention, imitation skills, attention and listening, joint attention, non-verbal communication; pointing, gesture, play, and understanding to name just a few.
An early communication assessment at this stage is really looking to see which of these prerequisite skills are developing, which ones are they delayed, is there an unusual pattern, and what stage is the child at in terms of beginning intervention with focus on the prerequisites.
If those prerequisites are present, we determine what might be the reason for the child not using language and commence intervention based on the difficulty identified.
The assessment format is usually play based and demands placed on the child are low. The therapist will initially follows the child’s lead and observe what they’re interested in and use this as a reinforcer when assessing the prerequisite skills outlined above. A parental report is also important during this assessment in order to get a holistic picture.
Check out our website for further information and how to book an early communication assessment.
Claire & Suzanne