Every evaluation is slightly different. However, there are some basic steps that occur in all evaluations:
A. Initially, there are several forms that need to be filled out that give the Speech-Language Pathologist some detailed information about the child’s (or adult client’s) medical or developmental history, and describes the areas of concern.
B. An appointment for the evaluation is set up. Evaluations typically are approximately one to two hours in length.
C. At the time of the appointment, the Speech-Language Pathologist may ask the parent (or adult client) additional questions, and then the examination and assessment portion of the evaluation takes place.
D. At the conclusion of the evaluation, a discussion with the parent (or adult client) takes place, to review the findings of the evaluation and recommendations are made for what the next steps should be. Lastly, you will receive a written report (typically received a few weeks after the evaluation) which outlines the results of the evaluation, the diagnosis, and recommendations.
The differences occur based on the type of evaluation that is needed:
1) Speech / Articulation / Oral-Placement Evaluations – The exact assessments that are administered depend on the age of the client and the area of concern. However, for all clients, there will be an examination of the oral cavity, looking at all structures, as well as the muscles and how they function together. There will frequently also be an assessment of the strength, coordination, and functioning of these structures using specialized oral-placement ‘tools’ designed specifically for use in and around the mouth. Lastly, there will be an assessment of the client’s speech production skills to determine where the areas of strength and weakness are. For very young children, there is often also the use of toys and games to encourage as much interaction and verbal expression as possible, as well as to keep the child engaged and motivated.
2) Speech & Feeding / Tongue-Tie Evaluations: The format of these evaluations are similar to the speech, articulation, and oral-placement evaluation. The primary difference is that there is also a more in-depth look at the oral structures (especially in determining the presence and effect of tongue-ties and lip-ties) and their functioning, as well as their impact on speech & feeding. For this evaluation, the parent (or adult client) will be asked to bring a variety of foods and drinks with them from home (you will receive an itemized list of what to bring). During the evaluation, the child (or adult client) will be asked to eat those foods (as appropriate for their age), while the Speech-Language Pathologist observes. This allows the Speech-Language Pathologist the opportunity to see how the structures and muscles of the mouth are performing during eating and drinking tasks.
3) Speech & Language Evaluations: The initial stages of this evaluation will also involve some assessment of the oral structures, but may not be as in-depth as in the previously described evaluations. The primary goal of this type of assessment is to determine the child’s overall communication skills. This includes receptive language (what the child understands and their knowledge), as well as expressive language (how the child produces speech, their vocabulary, and how they communicate). As much as possible, the administration of standardized tests is used in order to look at statistical information on where the child falls in relation to other children of the same chronological age. In addition to standardized testing, informal testing methods are also used via playing with toys, looking at pictures, and having conversations. The informal methods give the Speech-Language Pathologist a chance to see the child skills during natural interactions.