For a parent, when the pediatrician or teacher says, “I’d recommend a speech therapy evaluation,” our brains go into overdrive. Is there something wrong with my child? Or, I knew something wasn’t right! What does this mean? What caused this? Did I cause this? Will my baby be ok?
After the initial gut reaction, most parents go into problem-solving and information mode. They google, call their parents and friends, and try to figure out what exactly speech therapy is, who are these Speech Language Pathologists, what do they do, and what will an evaluation be like for my child.
Deep breath. Here’s what to expect as a parent if you need an evaluation.
First Step: Find a SLP Office
The first step is to find a speech therapy practice or provider. Referrals are an excellent way to narrow down the search. All pediatrician offices will have a recommendation on SLPs they refer to. Other parents are also excellent resources. If their children have been evaluated or are currently in a ST treatment program, ask them. Insurance providers can also provide a list of in-network providers. And there’s always Google. Read the reviews. (Here’s ours!)
Second Step: Schedule an Appointment
After choosing the SPGCT office, or one of our individual SLPs, call to schedule an appointment. We’ll walk you through the evaluation process, and get a date and time on the books. This may actually involve two appointments. Oftentimes, we break up our evaluations into two sessions. One will focus on oral function (how the mouth works) and the other on speech and language (how the child sounds and uses/understands words)
Third Step: Paperwork
There’s always paperwork. Before you come for the evaluation, we will provide a detailed list of the forms and documents we ask you bring along. This includes intake sheets that explain the reason you are requesting an evaluation, areas of concern, health history, signs and symptoms, etc. Insurance forms, clinical notes from the pediatrician or other healthcare providers, test results and any other diagnostics already performed that can be given to us in advance will greatly assist and eliminate unnecessary duplications. After we receive you paperwork, our diagnostic SLP will reach out to you to discuss in detail the health history, areas of concern, and signs that raised concerns for you and your child’s pediatrician. We will also discuss how the evaluation may look.
Fourth Step: Evaluation Day
The actual evaluation will look a lot like playtime for the child. We use games and toys to interact and gauge language development. Snacks and drinks may also be utilized to evaluate oral motor function, feeding and swallowing. The whole process is kept as simple and pleasant as possible. During an evaluation, parents have the option to stay in the room to observe.
Final Step: Recommendations
As we conclude the evaluation, we will explain our findings and any test results, then give a preliminary recommendation on if treatment is needed and what that would entail. Later on, we will send a formal report, which can also be provided to the pediatrician, as well as a specific therapy plan. If ongoing speech therapy is recommended, we can begin scheduling treatment sessions.
We understand medical evaluations are stressful for parents/caregivers and bringing children into unfamiliar environments where they are the center of attention can be overwhelming. Our therapists are acutely aware of these perfectly normal reactions and take extra care to ensure the comfort and confidence of everyone involved.
If you just heard the words, “I’d recommend a speech therapy evaluation,” take a deep breath and then give us a call. SPGCT has decades of experience and we will walk with you through every step, clearly explaining each one, and partnering with you throughout the process. You are not alone. Our team is ready to support every parent, caregiver, and child as they embark on their speech therapy journey. Let us be there for you.