What to expect from a Speech Language Assessment Session

What to expect from a Speech Language Assessment Session

Speech Language Pathologist is the person you will be meeting first when you have any concerns related to speech and language. The first meeting with the SLP is usually the assessment appointment.  A mandatory assessment session with the Speech Language Pathologist ( Speech therapy in Tamil ) is required to understand the problem in greater details. The assessment session mainly focuses on the following aspects:

  1. Knowing your concerns as a caregiver /parent or a patient.
  2. Finding out the nature of the disorder congenital/acquired, progressive / non-progressive
  3. Why was a need for Speech Language Pathologist assessment sought? What and who made the referral?
  4. The impact of your speech and/or language concern with respect to your activity and participation in day to day life.
  5. The impact of the condition on overall quality of the life

An assessment session usually begins by collecting necessary details which includes demographic details, family history, medical and developmental history and other related information. This information is foremost important to know the cause of the condition, its cause and co morbidity. As a parent / caregiver you are expected to give all necessary information and details. This part of the assessment is called as case history. Once the case history is obtained, the SLP would have a rough idea of what can be expected, what concerns to be addressed and what assessment tools to be administered. Also, you can be assured that no amount of personal information would leak and from the assessment session.  Any video / audio recording in the assessment session would be made with your new consent and confidentiality would be maintained.

Next, the SLP would take you through battery of test which is required to diagnose the condition. Some of these tests are performance based test. i.e., the patient has to perform what is being asked and the SLP will give a score based on the performance. Some of the performance tests used during the assessment is:

  1. Oro motor examination: this would give input regarding the structure and the function of the related organs in the mouth. Your SLP will look out for any kind of structural anomaly in addition to checking for its function. Scores are given based on if the patient is able to do a oral motor movement, ease of movement and its reliability.


  1. Articulation assessment: For assessing the speech sounds errors in a person, the Speech Language Pathologist carries out an articulation test which involves asking to say different sound of the language to check for its accuracy.
  2. Language assessment: For any concerns related to language either in children or adults, a language assessment is a must which is based in performance. In a nutshell your Speech Language Pathologist would give you some tasks or ask you some questions in order to know your language levels in terms of comprehension and expression. This would not only give insights on current level of functioning of the patient but also give inputs on where to begin the intervention.

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In addition to performance based assessment, a Speech Language Pathologist ( Speech therapy in Tamil ) uses a clinical interview method using standardized tests and questionnaires in order to know the presenting clinical condition. These standardized tools are disorder specific and many a times language specific. The decision of which such scale/questionnaire to use for assessment is made by the Speech Language Pathologist ( Speech therapy in Tamil ) after the case history taking. Many of these tests are norm referenced tests i.e. they use a normative score against the patient’s performance in order to diagnose the condition. These norms are particular to age, gender and ethnic groups.

Apart from this, an assessment session by a Speech Language Pathologist is also complemented with an audio/video recording of the client. This recording is done only after obtaining due consent from the client/caregivers and privacy of the patient is maintained. This recording of a part of the assessment session is important for two reasons. The first one being, it would help the Speech Language Pathologist to reanalyze the patient’s speech and follow-up on things which might have been missed during the session.

The second being, it would be great starting point for the intervention session and would serve as a baseline against which the patient’s progress can be compared. Also it would give objectivity to the examiner’s observation.

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In the course of all this the patient might have a lot of questions/clarifications regarding what is going on, why I am being asked so many questions, is it a really big concern, etc. The answer to all your questions would be given by your Speech Language Pathologist at the end of the session. The counseling is usually the last but the most important part of the assessment session. In this part the Speech Language Pathologist would take through the results of the assessment, the findings of various departments/professionals and the possible intervention options. During this part, you will find answer to the following questions:

  1. What is the clinical condition of the patient?
  2. What might be the possible reason for this condition?
  3. Is this condition static or progressive in nature?
  4. What is the kind of intervention services that is required?
  5. Will intervention help and in what ways?
  6. Who all will be involved in intervention and how long will it last?
  7. Is there any medical/surgical intervention option available for this condition?
  8. What is that the Speech Language Pathologist is going to do?

You can also ask your Speech Language Pathologist ( Speech therapy in Tamil ) any specific questions that you have regarding your condition. Very important aspect here is to have good communication. Always remember that no question/concern is stupid. Many times, one assessment session may not be enough as there is enormous exchange of information which might lead to confusion and therefore it can be broken into two sessions for the ease of understanding. Before leaving the clinic or ending the appointment, make sure that all your concerns are answered.

Always ask for a report from your Speech Language Pathologist which will help you to refer back and understand better. An assessment session usually ends by helping the clients know the condition, giving insights on intervention option and highlighting the need for early as well as consistent efforts in intervention. Always remember that assessment is an ongoing process. You will not only have an assessment for knowing the condition but will have repeated such session to know the progress therapeutic services have induced and also to know what more needs to be done for improving communication.

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