Speech Language Assessment
Speech language assessment: There are four essential goals when assessing a
child's language and communication skills.
They are, in order: to screen for language difficulty, establish a baseline for intervention, formulate
appropriate goals for intervention, and to measure a child's language skills over time.
Westby, Stevens, Dominguez, and Oetter (1996)
Clinicians screen children to separate the kids whose language skills are developing well from
the children who are experiencing some form of language difficulty. The children who are identified as having a
language difficulty will then usually be given a formal, norm-referenced language assessment.
Oral Language screening for children just beginning school is a very useful way of identifying kids who
experience language delay or disorder, or who may have lower than average cognitive functioning.
A screen is usually quite short (about 15 mins) and
easy and quick to deliver.
Many school districts in Australia have prep screening programs, whereas others
do not. Other districts have pre-school (kindergarten) screening programs, which are
successful at identifying children with potential language disorder before they reach school.
Establishing a Baseline
Once a child has been identified as having possible language difficulty it is
important to determine how well or how poorly the child communicates in different settings. This information can be
teachers or parents and by observing the child in different communicative contexts. For instance, a school-age
child will be assessed with a norm referenced language assessment. The child may also be observed to see how he/she interacts
in the classroom and with his/her peers.
Also, how well a child reads and interprets text and a sample of written work would
provide extra useful information to help plan intervention. (It's important to add that all aspects of a child's
communication should be screened, including hearing, oral-motor skills and phonological awareness.)
Formulate Language Intervention Goals
Armed with the valuable information afforded by a language assessment, the
clinician can then determine whether a child has language impairment or difficulty and which areas to target for
intervention. For instance, if it was revealed that a child had poor semantic and syntax skills, then those areas would
be a focus of intervention.
Once a child has received a language assessment and intervention program they will need their language skills assessed
at a later date to see if they have made progress, if they need their intervention program modified or to decide
if the child is ready to be dismissed from receiving speech pathology services.
Types of Speech Language Assessment
Norm Referenced Assessment
Criterion Referenced Assessment
Kaderavek, J.N. (2011) Language Disorders in Children: Fundamental Concepts of Assessment and Intervention, Allyn & Bacon
Paul, R. (2006) Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence. Assessment and Intervention. Mosby
Westby, C.E., Stevens Dominguez, M., and Oetter, P. (1996) A performance/competence model of observational assessment.
Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 27(2), 144-156
Content Updated 10/11
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