Preparing for a speech and language evaluation can feel overwhelming for a parent. It might feel nerve-wracking to have concerns about your child’s communication, as well as meeting a new health-care provider in an unfamiliar place. If you have already scheduled your child’s speech and language evaluation, then you’ve taken an important step in helping your child grow and succeed. Research has well-documented the benefits of speech-language therapy, as well as the importance of intervening early on.
8 Steps to Prepare for your Child’s First Speech & Language Evaluation:
1. Set aside time to reflect on your child’s speech-language skills
What aspects of communication seem to be difficult for your child? What aspects of communication are easier for your child? When did you first become concerned about your child’s communication? Be as specific as possible, and provide any examples you can think of.
2. Write your concerns down, and bring them to the evaluation
You may even keep a daily log of concerns as they arise throughout the week before the appointment. Your input is extremely important to your child’s speech therapist. During the evaluation, the therapist will spend about 60-90 minutes with your child. While a lot will be accomplished in that time, it’s also helpful for the therapist to learn more about how your child communicates in other settings as well (e.g. at school, at home, during play-dates, etc).
3. Write your questions down. Bring specific questions for your child’s therapist
It may be tough to remember all your concerns and questions during the actual evaluation session, so writing them down will ensure that you get your questions answered.
4. If possible, send any documents or paperwork to the therapist before the evaluation
This includes any reports you might have from previous therapies (e.g. Early Intervention, school IEP’s, etc.) Sending paperwork ahead of time gives your therapist more time to learn about your child and plan the evaluation session.
5. Print out directions to the evaluation
Reviewing directions ahead of time will allow you to plan for traffic, parking, and ensure arriving on time. Arriving late to the appointment cuts into the evaluation time, and results in parents and children feeling stressed.
6. Talk to your child about the evaluation ahead of time
Talk to them about where they will be going, and what will happen. Use positive and upbeat language to put your child at ease. Reassure your child that you will be there waiting for them, and can’t wait to hear all about what they did! If you have any questions or concerns about the transition into the evaluation (e.g. your child is unable to separate, your child has anxiety, etc), contact the therapist ahead of time to plan out the best strategy.
7. Arrive a few minutes early
This will ensure that you have enough time to submit any paperwork, and calmly transition your child into the clinic. Children rely heavily on their parents’ cues about whether or not to be worried. If parents feel stressed or anxious, the children may likely feel stressed or anxious too.
8. Finally, trust your child’s therapist
Remember that your child’s therapist conducts speech-language and feeding evaluations all the time. They are well-trained in their field, and work with a variety of children everyday. Your therapist is there for you and your child, and can’t wait to see your child grow and succeed.
If you are still unsure if a Speech and Language Evaluation is right for your child, please contact us here to talk with a Family-Child Advocate, who can help determine the next best step for you and your family!