With my Parent and Early Years Practitioner version of my Speech Assessment App only weeks away from release, it's worth talking about what the app can and can't assess.
The App is designed to help profile the speech sounds of a child and to help a parent or Early Years Practitioner to decide whether further help is required. It is not designed to identify other language and communication difficulties. So, here are some guidelines as to when a parent or early learning and childcare centre should consider referring to speech and language therapy for assessment, support or input.
Most speech and language therapy departments will accept the following referrals at any age:
• Child is heard to have dysfluent speech (stammering) or if parent reports hearing this
• Child has difficulty with eating or drinking in terms of chewing and swallowing
• Child has a hoarse voice or abnormal voice quality
• Child whose play or social interaction seems inappropriate
They will also accept referrals at particular ages:
At 2:0 if the child has:
• Little pretend play
• Poor attention
• Few or no words
• No apparent comprehension (understanding)
At 3:0 if the child:
• Has poor comprehension of language
• Only says single words (or learnt phrases) even if their other skills are good (e.g. good comprehension/play/attention)
• Is unintelligible most of the time to close family, even in context
• Has limited pretend play
• Cannot attend for longer than a few minutes
At 4:0 if the child:
• Has evidence of echolalia. Difficulties with comprehension of language
• Has no evidence of 5-6 word utterances (although play and comprehension are good)
• Is unintelligible to family most of the time. Shows a disordered speech pattern (e.g. omits all initial consonants, vowel abnormalities, use of one consonant sound only)
At 5:0 if the child:
• Is severely unintelligible even in context. Any deletions (e.g. boa or oat for boat)
• Has significant comprehension and/or expressive language difficulties
• Has difficulties understanding instructions containing several key words or understanding question words (e.g. who, where, when)
• Is unable to relate to a short sequence of events
Remember, the information/assessment available in the App is not intended to replace the expertise, judgment or diagnosis by a fully qualified speech and language therapist or other appropriate professional. If you feel your child has other more serious issues which may be affecting his/her speech, please contact your local professionals who will be able to work with you to be sure your child receives the best treatment possible.
The recommendations made by the App are guidelines only and it may be that your child requires speech and language intervention, even when the App has recommended that they do not. Likewise, it cannot be guaranteed that your local speech and language therapy department will accept referral to their service on the basis of the outcome of this App. The App is intended as a means of identifying the issues your child has with their speech sound development and using the information to explore further the options you have. If you disagree with the outcome of the App’s recommendations, do not hesitate to contact your local Speech and Language Therapy Department who will be happy to advise further.