At Speech Therapy Services, we see parents who are quite nervous about bringing their child to an initial appointment. This is a daunting task for many: you are concerned for your child, worried about what the assessment will find, nervous about bringing them to an unfamiliar place to do unfamiliar testing with an unfamiliar person. To shed some light on this, and to hopefully minimise some first-appointment-jitters amongst parents out there, I’d like to give you the scoop on what exactly to expect in your child’s first Speech Therapy Services appointment.
You park in our carpark and make your way through the doors. You are greeted by a colourful mural on the wall, leafy plants, a bookcase, and a very full toybox and dollhouse. You are invited to take a seat while your child is free to play or read if they like. There may be other parents and children in the waiting room, and we find that children often end up playing together while waiting for sessions.
Your Speech Therapist will greet you, introduce themselves, and invite everyone through to the clinic room. Your child will usually be given something to play with while the Speech Therapist goes through the case history with you. If you have previously filled this in, the therapist may ask additional questions or for elaboration. If not, they will go through this with you and help to fill in. Why is a case history necessary? Think of Speech Therapist doing assessments as investigators. We need to probe and see what the child is doing now, but we are also interested in their background: Who do they live with? How do they get on with other children? Do they speak more than one language? Did they have a complicated birth? What medical issues could be affecting their language development? It is all important information to get a full picture of your child’s abilities.
Once the case history is complete, the Speech Therapist will go on to complete the bulk of the assessment. The tools used will vary depending on your child’s age, and the reason you have brought them to therapy. Younger toddlers and babies will be assessed using informal measures, such as playing and nonverbal communication skills. Preschool and school aged children receive more formal assessments. A typical assessment battery will include tests for receptive and expressive language (understanding and talking), and speech sounds (the way you pronounce words). Older children may also be tested for spelling, reading, and reading comprehension. Speech Therapists have tools to assess any number of concerns: executive functioning, problem solving, sensory processing, working memory, comprehension, stuttering, voice, feeding, and storytelling.
When the therapist has completed all tests, they will give you a general outline of the results. While it is not always possible to give full results directly after an assessment (some of these take hours to score!), it is usually possible to get an idea of whether your child will need therapy, what the therapy will be addressing, and how frequently it will be needed to guarantee best results.
Once we have determined if therapy is required, your therapist will discuss the dates and times of sessions with you. We are flexible here at Speech Therapy Services and will always strive to accommodate our clients’ needs and schedules. When the session is over, the therapist will take payment and confirm times and dates of future appointments.
At your next session, you will receive a copy of your child’s management plan. This is an outline of what will be addressed in therapy during the next treatment block. This is typically about 3 months, or 1 term. If you have ordered a report, you will receive this the following session. The assessment report details the tests used, your child’s results, implications, and recommendations for therapy.
So if you’ve been putting off making an appointment because the task seems daunting or scary – give Speech Therapy Services a call now. We are here to help you and your child and make the process as easy as possible for you both!