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What is a speech and language evaluation?


A speech pathologist conducts a speech and language evaluation by measuring and describing the specific difficulties a person has with written, spoken or non-verbal communication.  A speech pathologist can also diagnose a feeding or swallowing disorder. 


A speech pathologist conducts the speech and language evaluation using a combination of formal testing, such as standardized tests, and informal methods, such as watching the child play or taking a language sample while talking to the child.  


Formal tests include measures of 

Receptive Language, or what words the child knows and understands.

Auditory skills such as following directions, discriminating between sounds, and remembering words are also tested as part of receptive language. 

Expressive Language, or how many words the child can use meaningfully. 

Articulation, or the production of speech sounds in isolation and in words. 

Voice quality will be addressed if the child has an atypical sounding voice. 

Fluency will be measured if the child is stuttering. 


For Children

The speech pathologist will ask you to provide information about your child’s birth and medical history, and any developmental delays or diagnoses the child may have. The evaluation may be completed over the course of one or several sessions, depending upon the age of the child, and the capacity of the child to complete a formal test if standard scores are needed. At the end of the evaluation, the clinician will explain the results and let you know if treatment is recommended. 


A hearing screening is typically part of most speech evaluations, because hearing affects speech and language learning. The clinician will also perform an oral exam to check if there are any mechanical problems that may be affecting speech production. 


The clinician will write a comprehensive written report with a description of the findings and the recommendations. This report will be mailed to the parents and to the prescribing physician, or to the child’s school as appropriate. 


Adapted from PRO-ED, Inc. 1988 

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