What is speech-language pathology?

Speech-language pathology is a health profession aimed at helping individuals develop effective communication skills. Professionals in this field are educated and trained to evaluate and treat children and adults with speech, language and swallowing problems. At the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), we focus on treating the pediatric population.

What is a speech-language evaluation?

A speech-language evaluation at CARD is performed by a speech-language pathologist to gain insight into a child's developing speech language and communication skills. A speech-language pathologist will obtain a variety of scores from the tests utilized in the evaluation. These scores (standard scores, age equivalents and percentile ranks), as well as information from other types of tests, help the speech-language pathologist determine if a child has delayed or disordered language.

In addition to determining if a language delay or disorder is present, speech-language pathologists at CARD may give special tests, observational scales and parent report measures to gather information about social, play, communicative and behavioral patterns that are characteristic of autism. A report is generated that uses this information to help other professionals make diagnostic decisions about whether the child has an autism spectrum disorder and to make recommendations for intervention.

What tests are used in a speech-language evaluation?

Formal/standardized test can be administered to evaluate a child's comprehension of language, expressive language, articulation and receptive and expressive vocabulary skills. Informal tests may include an oral-motor examination, language samples, some structural play interactions, caregiver questionnaires and checklists that will help provide additional information to supplement the formal tests administered.

Why is a speech-language evaluation beneficial?

The recommendation from a speech-language assessment may address:

  • Social skills, social language and social interaction treatment goals
  • Provide educational recommendations (i.e., class size, level of structure, etc.)
  • Ideas for activities at home that will help facilitate language/communication/play/social skills
  • Linguistic, oral-motor, gesture and related communication treatment goals

What areas are addressed in speech-language treatment?

Speech-language treatment plans and goals are created and implemented based on the child's individual needs. Individual therapy may address:

  • Opportunities to develop more appropriate play skills
  • Social skills (i.e., imitation, theory of mind, joint attention) and foster more appropriate social interaction skills
  • Language comprehension and expression
  • Development of augmentative communication skills
  • Literacy skills
  • Readiness to learn skills