Taking your child in for a speech-language evaluation and receiving the initial report can be a confusing and overwhelming process. As a parent or caregiver, you are entering a new health care field, which comes with new terminology and jargon. In order to best understand your child’s needs, it is helpful to have a good foundation of what speech-language pathology is. Here are eight terms that you will likely come across when reading your child’s report or when talking with your child’s speech-language pathologist. Reference this list to get the most out of the information that you are given from your speech-language pathologist.
8 Terms to Know to Understand a Speech Language Evaluation:
1. Language is the system that you use to communicate your thoughts and feelings. The use of language can happen through several different modalities, using your voice, writing, or gesturing. There are three main components of language: Receptive Language, Expressive Language, and Pragmatics.
2. Receptive Language refers to your ability to understand language. Activities where you use your receptive language are when you follow directions, listen to a story, or when categorizing/grouping items. Learn about receptive language delay here.
3. Expressive Language refers to your ability to use language through speaking or writing. Activities where you use your expressive language include when you tell a story, answer a question or describe an item. Learn about expressive language disorder here.
4. Pragmatics is the last component of language and includes the social rules of communicating or how language is used within certain situations. An example of a pragmatic language skill is your ability to greet an unfamiliar person and learn their name.
5. Speech can also be thought of as vocal communication. It is the ability of the human voice to create a variety of sounds to form the words and sentences that we use when communicating. Speech itself is only a series of sounds, it is the language system that it is used with that gives your speech meaning.
6. Standardized Tests are used during speech and language evaluations due to the standard procedures laid out for the administration and scoring of these tests. The standardization of these tests eliminate environmental and clinician factors that could influence a child’s performance.
After standardized testing is completed a child will receive various scores. Two important scores to pay attention to are: Standard Score and Percentile Ranking.
7. Standard Score is calculated by standardizing a child’s raw score based on indicated method for that test. When standardizing a raw score, the child’s gender and age are often taken into account. Once a score has been standardized it can be compared to the continuum of scores of the typical population.
8. Percentile Rank also compares a standard score to the typical population by identifying the percentage of people who received the same or lower score than your own. For example, receiving a percentile ranking of 50 indicated that 50% of people who also took the same standardized test received the same score or a score lower than your own score.
The results from standardized and informal testing will guide your child’s speech-language pathologist recommendations for services. If services are warranted, these test scores and observations are used to identify areas of need and the child’s therapeutic goals. Every 3 to 6 months, re-evaluations are completed to assess your child’s progress through therapy.