Let's Talk Assessment

So today we're talking about assessment:

  • where does it all start

  • the emotions involved

  • How assessment is done

  • what to expect from your speech therapist,

  • what areas will be looked at,

  • a little bit about my screening assessment

Where does it all start? So you might be worried about your child's language development so you mention this to a health professional.

Sometimes that health professional will do a basic screening assessment on your child to see whether an assessments with speech and language therapists is appropriate.

So for example, in the UK a Healh Visitor around the age of two, will do a screening assessment to see whether a child is developing language as expected. And if not, they might recommend a referral to speech therapy or maybe to a pediatrician.

You might have already seen a pediatrician if your child was premature or there have been some health concerns early on in life.

The paediatrician may do some developmental assessment and feels as though a referral to speech therapy would be helpful.

These screening assessments tend to be tick lists and they tend to be what your child should be doing at this age and maybe what they're not doing.

Emotions This can feel very daunting for some parents to receive this information.

Sometimes it comes as a bit of a shock. Sometimes it's more of a relief because they have been worrying about their child and wanting somebody to listen to them.

It can bring up a whole raft of emotions for some parents.

How to assess

To assess little ones or those struggling with language development and are a bit older is very difficult because children are not at the stage where they can take a test and we can tick if they know the answer!

To get the best from the child the assessment has got to be made very natural, and in play so that your child doesn't really know they are being tested, they just think that that they are playing.

The more relaxed your child is, the more the, assessment will truly reflect their skills.

And so I would expect any assessment to be very playful and closely follow your child's leads.

It may be necessary to do the play in short bursts, not necessarily sat at a table but following your child around wherever they are most comfortable. It might be that toys that are used or pictures are used depending on your child's level of development.

It is also necessary to ask you lots of it is questions.

In a clinic setting, or even at a nursery, visit or home visit the person doing the assessment is only going to get a very small snapshot of what your child can do and therefore it's important to fill in the therapist as to how your child is in different situations.

What to expect from a speech and language therapist?

Depending on where in the world you are it's likely that the speech therapist might assess your child, either in a clinic or hospital setting, at your child's nursery or school or maybe in your home. And it's likely that the assessment will be around an hour.

During this time the speech therapist will want to ask you lots of questions and have time to play with and see what your child responds to.

If you've traveled to a clinic or a hospital, it's likely that your child will be unfamiliar with the room, unfamiliar with people and it can be quite daunting.

You might find that your child doesn't show their true skills and you find yourself saying, 'well, at home they can do this'. And 'I know that they can do that'

From the speech therapist point of view, she'll be seeing that as a being in the account from you. But maybe that she's not seeing that herself.

I would strongly recommend taking some videos of your child in natural situations along with you to that appointment so you can show the speech therapist your child in natural situations.

Even if the speech therapist comes to you and is in your home your child may act differently and so videos will help with the assessment.

What the therapist will be assessing

Lots of parents focus on talking but there's lots of prerequisite skills that need to develop in order for talking to come.

Sometimes we look at it as a pyramid or iceburg, And the tip of it is, is the talkings. The bit underneath is all the important skills that need to develop first.

The Speech and Language Therapist will be looking at

Sensory Skills

Attention and Listening




Expressive Language


This will all go together to give the SLT an idea of where your child is up to.

Screening Tool

I use a screening assessment that I've put together from my own knowledge of working with children.

It is basic and it doesn't, replace a speech and language therapy assessment. But what it does do is it puts children into groups.

That means that going forward I can say 'Group Two children need to do this'

So we can start to talk about children, groups, and it makes what I'm saying to people much clearer and also shows when children are making progress.

If you would like to screen your child and see which of my groups they are in please find the FREE screening tool here:


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