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how to understand a speech language evaluation

Understanding a Speech Language Evaluation

Taking your child in for a speech-language evaluation and receiving the initial report can be a confusing and overwhelming process. As a parent or caregiver, you are entering a new health care field, which comes with new terminology and jargon. In order to best understand your child’s needs, it is helpful to have a good foundation of what speech-language pathology is. Here are eight terms that you will likely come across when reading your child’s report or when talking with your child’s speech-language pathologist. Reference this list to get the most out of the information that you are given from your speech-language pathologist.

8 Terms to Know to Understand a Speech Language Evaluation:

1. Language is the system that you use to communicate your thoughts and feelings. The use of language can happen through several differenthow to understand a speech language evaluation modalities, using your voice, writing, or gesturing. There are three main components of language: Receptive Language, Expressive Language, and Pragmatics.

2. Receptive Language refers to your ability to understand language. Activities where you use your receptive language are when you follow directions, listen to a story, or when categorizing/grouping items. Learn about receptive language delay here.

3. Expressive Language refers to your ability to use language through speaking or writing. Activities where you use your expressive language include when you tell a story, answer a question or describe an item. Learn about expressive language disorder here.

4. Pragmatics is the last component of language and includes the social rules of communicating or how language is used within certain situations. An example of a pragmatic language skill is your ability to greet an unfamiliar person and learn their name.

5. Speech can also be thought of as vocal communication. It is the ability of the human voice to create a variety of sounds to form the words and sentences that we use when communicating. Speech itself is only a series of sounds, it is the language system that it is used with that gives your speech meaning.

Click here to learn more about the difference between speech and language.

6. Standardized Tests are used during speech and language evaluations due to the standard procedures laid out for the administration and scoring of these tests. The standardization of these tests eliminate environmental and clinician factors that could influence a child’s performance.

After standardized testing is completed a child will receive various scores. Two important scores to pay attention to are: Standard Score and Percentile Ranking.

7. Standard Score is calculated by standardizing a child’s raw score based on indicated method for that test. When standardizing a raw score, the child’s gender and age are often taken into account. Once a score has been standardized it can be compared to the continuum of scores of the typical population.

8. Percentile Rank also compares a standard score to the typical population by identifying the percentage of people who received the same or lower score than your own. For example, receiving a percentile ranking of 50 indicated that 50% of people who also took the same standardized test received the same score or a score lower than your own score.

The results from standardized and informal testing will guide your child’s speech-language pathologist recommendations for services. If services are warranted, these test scores and observations are used to identify areas of need and the child’s therapeutic goals. Every 3 to 6 months, re-evaluations are completed to assess your child’s progress through therapy.



receptive language delay

A Guide to Receptive Language Delay

Receptive language is the ability to understand verbal (spoken) and nonverbal (written, gestural) language. Receptive language includes skills such as following directions, understanding gestures, identifying vocabulary and basic concepts, and answering questions. Are you wondering if your child’s receptive language skills are developmentally appropriate? Read on for a guide to receptive language delays.

Refer to this guide of common receptive language developmental milestones:

 

Age Milestones
0-3 months Turns to a familiar voice, smiles in response to voice
4-6 months Searches for sound sources, responds to ‘no’, shows interest in music and toys
7-12 months Responds to name, begins to respond to requests, understands 3-50 words
1-2 years Follows simple commands, points to pictures in books when named, points to a few body parts
2-3 years Follows 2-step commands, understands in/on/under/stop/go
3-4 years Understands simple ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘where’ questions
4-5 years Answers simple questions about stories

 

 There are multiple causes for difficulties with receptive language. Some of them include:

  •              Additional developmental disorders or delays
  •              Hearing loss
  •              Lack of exposure to language
  •              Intellectual disabilities
  •              Unknown origin

Here are some ideas to foster receptive language development at home:receptive language delay

  1. Label Objects: Name and point to objects when reading books and during daily routines such as meals, baths, and bedtime. Modeling the words helps to increase a child’s vocabulary.
  2. Simplify your Language: Use simple words and short word combinations. Instead of saying, “Oh, look at the car go!” say “Car go!” Rather than asking “Do you want more apple juice?” say “more juice?” This limits the amount of information the child needs to process in order to understand the message.
  3. Provide Cues: Give the child visual and/or gestural cues when communicating with the child. A visual cue could be a real or pictured object. A gestural cue could be pointing, turning, or gazing towards an object. They aid in improving receptive language because they provide additional information that is processed differently than verbal language. They also help the child pair meaning with verbal words.
  4. Give Directions: Practice following directions by making them fun. Give directions such as “Go find daddy”, “jump up and down”, and “clap your hands”. Provide a model for the child if needed.
  5. Check for Understanding: Be sure the child understands the direction, question, or information by having them repeat what they heard. Provide the child a repetition and/or re-word parts of the message using fewer words and simple, familiar language.

Wondering about red flags for a receptive language delay? Click here to learn more.



Reference: Paul, Rhea. (2007). Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence. St Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

5 Activities to Promote Language Use in the Car

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much longer? Are these commonly heard phrases in your car? It’s summertime and a road trip is just around the corner.

Learn 5 activities for car rides that are not only fun, but a great way to encourage language skills on the go!

  1. I Spy: “I spy with my little eye…” Use this game to target the following skills:
    • Articulation: See if you can find objects, restaurants, stores, etc. that begin with the sound your child is working on in speech therapy.
    • Receptive language: Ask your child to find 5 items outside the car that belong to a certain category. For example, “Can you find 5 different animals?”
  2. Story Time: Making up silly stories can make for a fun ride! Ask your child to make up a story using ideas, activities, or characters he sees out the window. Be sure the story follows an appropriate sequence of events. This activity can also be a team game. Each person in the family takes turns adding a sentence to the story!
  3. Camping Trip: This is a game to get the whole family involved in your child’s language development. The game begins with one person saying, “I went on a camping trip and I brought…” The frist person states an item that begins with the letter A (apple). The following family member repeats the phrase and adds his own item beginning with the letter B (“I went on a camping trip and I brought an apple and a bouncy ball”). See how far down the alphabet you can get while you target auditory memory, attention, and phonemic awareness!
  4. Clue: This game is great for targeting receptive and expressive language!
    • Receptive Language: Tell your child you are thinking of an object. Provide “clues” (function of the object, category, attributes, etc.) to help them figure it out!
    • Expressive Language: Now it is your child’s turn! Let your child provide you with clues and see if you can figure out what object he is thinking of.
  5. Rhyme: It is rhyme time! Take turns picking a word. Work together or make it a race to see who can find the most objects outside the car that rhyme with the chosen word!

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Expressive vs. Receptive Language

Speech-language pathologists often throw around the terms “expressive language” and “receptive language” as though they are in everyone’s vocabulary. To clear up any confusion, here are definitions for these terms in simple language. language

What is Receptive Language:

Receptive language is the understanding of language “input.” This includes the understanding of both words and gestures. It goes beyond just vocabulary skills, but also the ability to interpret a question as a question, the understanding of concepts like “on,” or accurately interpreting complex grammatical forms (i.e. understanding that the phrase “The boy was kicked by the girl” means that a girl did the kicking). A child typically develops receptive skills first, so you can think of children as sponges who absorb the rules and use of language before they begin to express themselves using each of these skills. (To learn more about receptive delays, click here.)

What is Expressive Language:

Expressive language is most simply the “output” of language, how one expresses his or her wants and needs. This includes not only words, but also the grammar rules that dictate how words are combined into phrases, sentences and paragraphs as well as the use of gestures and facial expressions. It is important to make the distinction here between expressive language and speech production. Speech production relates to the formulation of individual speech sounds using one’s lips, teeth, and tongue. This is separate from one’s ability to formulate thoughts that are expressed using the appropriate word or combination of words. If you have concerns about your child’s development, consider both how they respond to directions you provide, as well as the words and word combinations they use. Give credit to the gestural cues and facial expressions that your child uses and reacts to as this is an early-developing and important skill. If your concerns persist, seek out the advice of a speech pathologist who can evaluate your child and determine if their development is on track, or whether therapy is warranted. And regardless of your child’s skill set, keep talking and interacting with your child – however they are able. Models are key in fostering the development of communication skills.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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