Assessment in Speech Pathology

Speech pathology assessments are important in order to get an accurate picture of your child’s communication strengths and difficulties.  Without an assessment, it is difficult to know what kind of help your child needs.

Children are assessed for different reasons. They vary depending upon the child’s age, the service and the family’s circumstances. 

According to Dr. Denman, speech pathology assessments are conducted for the following purposes:

  • Diagnose 
  • Select of an appropriate therapy approach
  • Plan the dosage required
  • Detect of change following therapy
  • Describe the child’s communication
  • Screen for the presence or absence of a communication difficulty
  • Determine the prognosis

At TalkHQ, we want to ensure we are addressing the family’s purpose of assessment. We ascertain this information in our case history form. We also go into more detail about this in part 1 of the assessment process. But more on that later…

Assessment vs Screening

Speech pathologists conduct assessments and/or screening assessments.

The main difference between the two types of assessment is the comprehensiveness.

The screening assessment is a quick and easy way to find out if your child has any signs of developmental delays. It usually takes less than 30 minutes.  The speech pathologist therapist will use observations or speech samples. They use their knowledge about children’s development patterns to see if the child is presenting with any red flags.

An assessment is more comprehensive and typically investigates your child’s communication function in different situations/communicative activities. 

The TalkHQ Assessment Process

Our speech pathologists can provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your child’s speech, language and communication skills. Our process is a 3-part comprehensive process. 

Part 1: 

We want to have an in depth consultation with the parent/caregiver BEFORE we meet the child. Before we sit down with your child, we chat with you, asking more specific questions about the questionnaire you’ve filled out. As their primary carer, you know your child best and we want you to be able to speak openly about your concerns.This also allows you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the service or the assessment process.

In addition, part 1 allows the speech pathologist to ask more in-depth questions about your child and have a better understanding of how they are communicating across the different environments, such as home vs kindergarten vs talking on the phone etc.

We also ask questions about what you are wanting to specifically know from the assessment so everybody is clear on the expectations. 

Based on the information provided, we may also suggest bringing along some of the child’s favourite toys or books to help them feel more comfortable.  After all, a child who is engaged during the assessment will give us the best picture of their development.

The information gathered in part 1 informs the speech pathologist of the best way to approach part 2, including which assessment tools to use.

Part 2:

In this next session, your child will meet with their therapist. All speech pathology assessments look different as they’re uniquely adapted for each individual child to suit their temperament, age and stage of development.

Typically this part of the assessment takes about 90 minutes. Depending on scheduling constraints and/or the child’s presentation, our speech pathologist may need to conduct this part over two separate 45 minute sessions.

The assessment will usually begin with your clinician using games or toys to help engage with your child and help them feel relaxed and comfortable in the clinic room. 

The speech pathologist uses many different assessment tools (more on this later) to assess your child’s:

  • Attention and listening
  • Play skills
  • Understanding
  • Speech sounds
  • Oro-motor skills
  • Words and number of different words
  • Sentences
  • Story-telling abilities
  • Social interaction skills
  • Written skills including spelling and reading and more…

Of course, not all of these areas are applicable to every assessment. This is why part 1  of the assessment process is so important.  There are so many things involved in communication we need to make sure we are honing in on the right areas for your child.

Part 3:

This is the “Feedback & Goal Setting” appointment. Before we meet with you, the speech pathologist has to score, analyze and interpret the assessment results from part 2.  In part 3, we will review the assessment results together, discuss if therapy is required and work with you to set goals. You will be provided with a treatment management plan at or soon after this appointment. 

We prefer part 3 to a parent/caregiver only session. This is because the information shared can be sensitive and not necessarily for “children’s ears”.  If you need to bring your child along, we ask that you bring a device with headphones (or something similar). 

Speech Pathology Assessment Tools

Depending upon your child, the speech pathologist has many assessment tools to choose from.

Their choice of assessment tool will be determined by your child’s:

  • Age 
  • Attention 
  • Compliance
  • Personality
  • Nature of communication difficulty
  • Purpose of the assessment
  • Areas of your child’s communication profile that have been identified as needing to be assessed following part 1

Speech pathology assessment tools may be standardised or non-standardised, norm-referenced, parental reports and more.  

From a parent/caregiver’s perspective, the assessment tools may look like the speech pathologist is:

  • Observing your child during play
  • Engaging in conversation while playing
  • Showing them different pictures from books or toys and asking them to point to things or name things
  • Asking you questions and completing parental or teacher questionnaires
  • Further discussion with teachers or daycare staff (with parental consent)

Once the assessment is completed, your clinician may briefly discuss the results with you or they may need more time before giving you any indication of how your child has compared with other children of the same age.

Speech Pathology Treatment Management Plan

The TalkHQ Speech Pathology treatment management plan is a one page summary outlining the following information:

  • Things your child did well
  • Things your child found difficult
  • Therapy goals
  • Dosage of therapy
  • Service delivery (e.g. group therapy, 1:1 therapy etc)
  • Next steps required (e.g. onward referral to an audiologist etc)

We intentionally write the summary in a parent-friendly, easy-to-read format so that you can share the information with key people in the child’s life, should you wish.

Speech Pathology Assessment Report

Speech Pathology Australia, our professional body, states that each child who attends for an assessment should be given a written report. Our detailed reports contain a lot more information than the treatment management plan.

A detailed assessment report is sometimes required, for example if your child is being referred onto the Paediatrician. Similarly, services such as school/kindergarten or NDIS require more detailed reports to secure funding.  This report will be more formally written and will contain scores if standardised/norm-referenced assessment tools have been used.

We typically have a turnaround time of 4 weeks to complete detailed assessment reports.

Assessment Only Clinic

The Assessment Only Clinic is a TalkHQ initiative that was introduced as part of our waiting list management system.

Just as it sounds, this clinic is for children who are only offered appointments for our 3-part assessment process.

The TalkHQ Assessment Only Clinic serves 2 purposes:

  1. Allows the speech pathologist to give parents a clear indication whether speech pathology intervention is required or not. For example, some parents may be waiting for months and months because they are concerned about their child’s development. Because of the Assessment Only Clinic, the parents are able to find out sooner that the assessment results show that the child’s speech errors are typical for their age. This means they no longer have to wait for therapy.
  2. Following the assessment feedback session, parents understand the nature of their child’s communication profile and can benefit from single strategy sessions/group therapy while awaiting ongoing therapy. 

Our Assessment Only Clinic typically runs each school holiday period and bookings are in advance. Sometimes, we have last-minute cancellations and we are able to see clients for assessment earlier. If this is the case, we will contact you via text or phone call to see if you are able to attend that day. You must respond by a specified time. If not, we contact the next family on the waiting list. This helps others have  the opportunity to be seen sooner.

Want a TalkHQ Assessment?

If you are concerned about your child’s communication, and wish to book in for an assessment or a spot in the Assessment Only Clinic, contact us here.


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