speech language evaluation

What to Expect at a Speech-Language Screening




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!

Click here to view our Speech and Language Milestones Infographic!

Acquisition of Speech Sounds by Age

Speech sound development varies greatly between boys and girls as well as between ages. Below are two charts that provide information about age of acquisition of speech sounds.  Speech Pathologists have researched the age of acquisition of consonant sounds in Standard American English for many decades. Each study found slightly different results regarding the age of mastery. I have provided the norms listed from the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation, 2nd Edition (GFTA-2). The GFTA-2 has been a widely-used articulation assessment for over 30 years. The age of mastery was determined by 85% of the sample population having the target sound mastered in the initial, medial, and final position of words. You can view a chart below with each sound and the typical age of mastery.

These charts should be used as a reference, not as a definitive means of determining if speech services are warranted. If your child is difficult to understand or is experiencing challenges with pronunciation of sounds, please contact a licensed speech language pathologist for a full evaluation.


By Age Children should be able to say
2 ½ m n h w
3 p b g
3 ½ k t
4 f
4 ½ -ing y (yellow) d
5 j (jumping)
5 ½ s “ch” (chair) “sh” (shovel)
6 r l
7 v z “th” (this)
8 “th” (thumb)


By Age Children should be able to say
2 m h
2 ½ n p
3 f w b T
3 ½ k g
4 d
4 ½ -ing y (yellow) r j (jumping) “sh” (shovel)
5 l s “ch” (chair)
5 ½ z
6 “th” (this) v
8+ “th” (thumb)

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!


 Goldman, R., Fristoe, M., & Williams, K. (2000). Goldman fristoe test of articulation supplemental developmental norms. (2 ed.). Circle Pines: American Guidance Service.