• Suzanne

What to expect from a speech and language 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 I will hopefully dispel the uncertainty around the different types of ‘Speech & Language Assessment’ and explore some of the many phrases I have heard from anxious parents and clients on arrival for initial assessment.

This blog post looks at speech and language assessment and what this may look like for different age groups.

Assessment is typically the first step when commencing speech and language services. The reason being is that speech and language is such a broad term with many specific areas, with any one or more impacting on communication; pre-requisites to language development (such as listening, joint attention, gesture, play), understanding of language, development of speech sounds and patterns to produce words, expressive language such as creating sentences and using a variety of vocabulary and correct grammar, social communication and pragmatics - how we use that developed language in meaningful ways with communication partners, to name just a few.

Therefore, in order to develop a therapeutic plan of intervention specific to a client’s needs, we need to complete an assessment to determine we are targeting the correct area, identify a starting point within that area and also use a measure to monitor improvements and change.

So, does assessment have an age limit? The answer is simply No. Any person at any time may require assessment due to a developmental delay in terms of language development, but also a set-back in communication abilities due to a brain injury, stroke, dementia, MS to name but a few.

Though most standardised speech & language assessments are targeted to the 3-16years age group, there are standardised assessments for children under 3 years, but from my own clinical experience you can gather just as much if not more information through informal play-based assessment with this age group.

For people over 18 years of age, the focus is much more on the function of communication and supporting a person in being able to communicate everyday needs and relevant topics, and therefore assessments are not focused on making comparisons with typical development, but identifying the deficit area and putting supports in place to improve quality of interactions.

Continue finding out more about ‘speech and language assessment’ by checking out the rest of the blog posts within this series – Early Communication Assessment; Speech Assessment; Social Communication and Pragmatic Assessment.

Don’t forget our website also offers further information and how to book an assessment.

Claire & Suzanne

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Charleville, Co. Cork, Ireland

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