What is a Speech Therapy Assessment and How Do I Know if I Need One?

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So, you’ve been able to book an appointment with a Speech Therapist, either for a family member, yourself or your child, and you’re eager to get started!

You’re told that the first session with the Speech Therapist will include initial assessments…

What does that mean though? And what does it look like?

Never fear — Spot Speechie Maddy is here to give you the lowdown on speech therapy assessments, including what to expect from your initial sessions with your therapist, different types of speech assessments, and more!
SPOT Speech Pathology-4

Why Are Speech Therapy Assessments Needed?

Ultimately, speech therapy assessments are for us Speechies to gather all of the right information!

Similar to a doctor requesting you to have a blood test or fitness assessment, Speech Therapists need to complete assessments in order to know how best to provide support.

It’s a normal part of the process, and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your child.
Speech Therapy for Attention

What’s Involved in A Speech Therapy Assessment?

Just like speech therapy in general, not all speech therapy assessment sessions look the same! Each and every client will have a different set of strengths, difficulties and goals, and it’s our job to help determine what those are.

There are some general components to speech therapy assessment which we all complete. Let’s take a closer look below.

1) Case History Discussion (and why we ABSOLUTELY CANNOT skip this part!)

This is typically where all Speech Therapists will start – information gathering.

Case history involves going through relevant questions related to the concern for yourself, family member or your child.

If we skip this super important information gathering, we might miss something that is CRUCIAL to your progress!

This is the only part of assessment that is completed for every single Spot client, in every single initial consultation. We ask questions about:
      • The current concern and why you are seeking speech therapy support 
      • Medical history; social history; developmental history 
      • Pregnancy and birth (particularly for a child client) 
      • Questions about other professionals involved and who’s been involved in the past
      • Previous assessment/s or therapy that’s been completed

Ultimately, we want to gather all the pieces of the puzzle so we are able to best understand how we can provide support. This is also an important part to help us plan for what the next step of assessment will look like. Which leads us to …
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2) Formal & Informal Assessment Tasks

After we’ve gathered our background information, we can decide what assessments are most appropriate to complete next. Typically, assessments are split between formal and informal assessments.

Formal assessments are objective, providing us with specific data and scores. This allows us to compare to normative data and can help us to formally diagnose conditions

There are usually specific instructions and tasks that we have to complete so that the assessment is conducted appropriately.

Informal assessments are more subjective and less structured.

These can instead focus on observing particular skills through play-based or dynamic activities which are much more flexible in nature and don’t follow strict instructions and guidelines.

Sometimes, we can even use a mix of formal and informal assessments with our clients.
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Which Speech Therapy Assessments Will I Need To Complete?

There are a number of different factors that influence what assessments speech therapists choose to complete with their clients, for example:
  • Whether any previous speech therapy assessments have been completed. If something has been completed recently, then we don’t need to repeat it and do the same thing again! Sometimes clients come to us having all relevant assessments already completed recently and we can dive straight into therapy. 
  • A client’s age. This influences what assessments are appropriate to use. For example, typically formal assessments have strict age ranges. 
  • The client’s level of engagement and attention. This is a particularly important consideration for young children. Speech Therapists often use games or motivating activities as “brain breaks” to continue to support participation in assessment tasks.
  • If there are any other areas of difficulty that the client is also experiencing. This will help us to choose what’s the most appropriate assessment to complete.
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What Happens After A Speech Therapy Assessment?

After initial assessments are complete, a Speech Therapist will typically provide feedback around their observations and the results, as well as recommendations from there.

This will then help to plan for what therapy will look like, as well as deciding what long and short term goals might be.

We can also provide letters or assessment reports which will provide all the relevant assessment information in writing. This is especially useful if this information is needed to support access to funding, formal diagnoses or to be passed on to other health professionals involved. 
SPOT Speech Pathology

Tips For Speech Therapy Assessment Sessions

It’s important to let us know other assessments have previously been completed, including providing us with any relevant documentation.

This helps us to choose which assessments are most appropriate to complete.

If a client has participated in any previous assessments performed by a Speech Therapist (or even an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or Paediatrician), it’s important for us to know, as we may not need to complete a similar assessment again.

If you have any relevant reports, letters or documentation that you think would be helpful for us, don’t hesitate to bring them in. Knowledge is power! 

We need little ones to do their assessments by themselves.

This is especially important for when we’re working with young children.

It can be tempting as a parent or caregiver to help children to complete a task, but during an assessment, we need to see whether they can do something all by themselves so we can adjust our goals and therapy plan accordingly. 

It may take multiple sessions to complete an assessment (and that’s okay!).

Completing assessments can be a long process, especially as we want to make sure they are completed in their entirety to gather all the right information.

Assessment sessions can take anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours across multiple sessions to complete. The main factor that influences this is what assessment we are completing. 

We may have to do multiple different assessments to gather all the information we need before starting therapy.

Sometimes, we’re unable to gather all the information we need from one single assessment, which means we’ll have to complete multiple.

For example, we have comprehensive assessments we use to assess language skills, but use a completely different comprehensive assessment to assess literacy skills.

Your Speechie can explain the purpose of each assessment, as well as how many further assessments you might be able to expect.

If you have any questions about the assessment process or want to clarify anything, don’t be afraid to ask your Spot Speech Therapist. We’re here to help you!

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