What Will Happen At My Child’s Speech Language Assessment Appointment?

  • 8 October 2018
  • Rosie Dwyer

What Will Happen At My Child’s Assessment Appointment?

You may have been suggested by your child’s preschool teacher, class teacher, Plunket nurse, GP, a friend or even just started googling and made the decision for yourself, that you child may benefit from a speech language therapy check-up. Your child’s name may be down for the public speech language therapy service provided by the Ministry of Education, but as time passes you may be starting to feel more anxious to get things moving. As with most public services, there is often a wait time, the time will differ from region to region. So you have booked in for a private assessment and are now left wondering what will happen at this appointment? Please don’t be nervous, it will be fine, we will try to make you feel as comfortable as we possibly can. 

A speech language therapy visit is not like taking your child to the doctor. The Speak To Me clinic is set up to be welcoming for both you and your child. There are heaps of toys your child can play with in the waiting room and feel free to help yourself to a Nespresso coffee or T2 tea before you start! 

You can bring siblings to an assessment session if you would like. Sometimes we recommend this approach as with their siblings present, your child may settle in faster, start showing us their awesome play skills and start chatting away much quicker! If we need to do a formal test we may just ask that you and the siblings pop to the waiting room for a little bit so we can have some quiet time with minimal distractions. 

Inside the clinic room there are cupboards of toys your child can play with and the speech therapist would have laid a selection out onto the floor to start. The speech language therapist will kick things off by asking you a range of questions related to your child’s overall development, health and communication skills, known as a case history. While we are completing the case history, your child will be playing away, hopefully starting to feel relaxed in this new environment and happy to explore. A relaxed child is one who will talk more!

Once we have all the information we need we can kick into the fun part of the session the assessment! It may sound scary but it definitely isn’t! If your child is three and under we may complete our assessment informally in a play based manner, if your child is older we may complete formal assessment, but will make sure that it is fun by giving your child play breaks and fun toys to work for. 

If we are doing informal assessment through play, it may look like we are just playing with your child, but I assure you we are finding out a whole bunch of things your child can do. We are listening out for your child’s speech sounds and noting down ones that seem easy and ones that may seem tricky. If your child is not yet using words, we are watching to see how they communicate, pointing, vocalizations, signs, crying? If your child is using words, then we are looking at the size of your child’s vocabulary, do they use a range of different words, can they use sentences, what types of sentences? Can your child follow instructions; simple instructions and one that are more complex? How does your child play; do they use eye contact, do they play with a range of toys, do they let others join in their play, what stage of play are they at? The answers to all the above questions help us to paint a beautiful picture about your child’s communication and play. 

With older children we may complete a formal assessment, either picture based or on the iPad. We will write down all the words, sentences, story-telling and answers to questions that your child gives us during this assessment. We will score this after the assessment session, and these scores will compare your child’s response compared to their peers. This will give us a good measure as to how your child is doing for their age. 

Once all the play and assessments are complete, the speech therapist will have a chat with you again and your child can have a well deserved play. We will summarize your child’s communication abilities, let you know if they are behind for their age, and give you advice and suggestions about where to from here and how you can help at home. We will give you strategy handouts to take home. 

We want you to get the most out of your child’s assessment session so please bring along any Drs, audiology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, and previous speech language therapy associated reports, whew! You can also bring your Well Child book along if your child is quite young. Write a list of questions you want to ask and bring these with you. We love lists! Don’t ever feel embarrassed to ask anything, just fire away. You can pack a wee bag for your child if you want; bringing along a favourite snuggly, a favourite toy, a favourite book, stickers, and snacks. This will help to make sure your child is comfortable and we can also use a lot of this in session as well! 

We look forward to meeting you and your child and we hope we can answer all of your questions, but most importantly that your child has fun and wants to come back! 

See you soon,


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