February 1, 2024

What to Expect at a Speech-Language Screening

Are you concerned about your child's speech or language development? Here is what to expect at a speech-language evaluation.

When parents first become concerned with their child’s speech or language development, a screening can be a good step to determine if a child will warrant a full speech-language evaluation.  Speech screenings can be informal or formal.  Here is what to expect at  each type of speech-language evaluation.

Speech-Language screenings can take on two forms-formal or informal:

Informal Screening:

  • Lasts approximately 15 minutes
  • Can take the form of a conversation with a licensed speech-language
    Pathologist (SLP)
  • May involve some play-based activities
  • Often involves observation during peer interactions
  • SLP may ask child age-appropriate questions to determine abilities for
    answering questions, forming sentences, and articulation
  • There is no formal protocol to follow
  • There is always a parent meeting with the therapist after the screening to make recommendations

Formal Screening:

  • Lasts approximately 15 minutes
  • Often has a criterion check list of skills
  • Will look at speech and language production
  • May have images for child to name or fill-in-the-blank sentences
  • Usually has questions for child to answer
  • There is always a parent meeting with the therapist after the screening to make recommendations

Screenings can be a great tool to determine if a child warrants a full speech-language evaluation. A screening alone is not diagnostically reliable and should only be used as a tool to decide if an evaluation is necessary. A licensed speech-language pathologist will not make goals about ongoing therapy until an evaluation is completed, however, after both formal and informal screenings, an SLP will meet with parents to create a plan for the next step: either conduct an evaluation or decide that the child is on track with speech and language and wait 3-6 months before screening again!

Download our Guide for Families

We know that choosing a local ABA facility can be a hard decision. We’ve created an informational guide to help you understand more about the questions you should be asking while meeting with different providers.

Although we talk about our services here, our highest goal is for you to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about picking a provider that is the best fit for your needs. You are making a decision that will impact the entire trajectory of your child’s life!
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The cover of the NSPT Guide for Families, which helps families to figure out the questions to ask when picking an ABA provider.


Why we do what we do.
Success looks different for every child... But we bet we have a story that matches your child's needs. Like James, who started with us as non-verbal and lacking the ability to initiate and maintain social interactions. Today, he can speak complete sentences, clearly state his needs, and navigate social interactions with his friends!

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