Preparing for ‘back to school’ means much more than simply stocking up on colored pencils and spiral-bound notebooks. It is often a time of new beginnings, new experiences, and for some parents, when they first realize something may be “wrong” with their child’s speech, language, reading or feeding abilities.
The first step is quite simple: go to the pediatrician. A child’s primary care doctor can conduct a basic screening of a child’s development and address parental concerns, while most likely easing worries with professional guidance. A pediatrician may next refer the child to a pediatric otolaryngologist and/or audiologist. The ENT and the audiologist can utilize their expertise to determine if the issues involved with speech and language could be related to a hearing problem.
Subsequently, a referral may be made to a speech-language pathologist for a comprehensive evaluation. There are myriad reasons why an evaluation conducted by a speech-language pathologist would be suggested, ranging from speech sound disorders to picky eating habits! A parent interview is first conducted to ascertain medical history, developmental milestones, and communication or swallowing concerns. Parental involvement is critical for a successful evaluation.
Depending upon the concern, the speech-language pathologist will analyze a child’s understanding and expressive use of various words, correct use of words in grammatically-appropriate sentences, pronunciation of age-appropriate speech sounds, voice quality, movement of structures utilized for speech production, and fluency of speech. Depending upon the age of the child, reading and written expression skills would be assessed as well. Formal, standardized evaluations are utilized in conjunction with informal methods. If feeding or picky eating is a concern, the speech-language pathologist would conduct a comprehensive swallow/feeding evaluation.
Findings are discussed at length with parent/guardian, and a thorough written report is furnished. The report will indicate recommendations for future action which may include participation in speech therapy, referral to another professional, and/or re-evaluation at a later date. While it may be more involved than picking up pencils or a notebook, this evaluation lays the foundation for your child’s back to school communicative experiences and overall success.
Please call our office at 239-631-1988 for more information regarding a comprehensive evaluation and/or speech therapy.
Christina Freise Pollitt is a Speech-Language Pathologist in Naples, Florida. She evaluates and treats pediatric and adult clients in her private practice, Speech By The Beach Consulting LLC.