By Megan Ahlman, M.A. CCC-SLP,
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center
A speech and language evaluation is a normal avenue to pursue when parents or caregivers suspect difficulty with communication. Anticipation of a speech and language evaluation can bring on feelings of stress if you aren’t sure what to expect, and meeting a new healthcare professional in an unfamiliar office space can be overwhelming.
To schedule a speech and language evaluation, you may wish to do a Google search for a provider close to where you live and then simply give them a call. They will ask for basic information such as why you are scheduling the appointment and your availability to come in for an evaluation. If you have already scheduled a speech and language evaluation, then you’ve already taken an important step for your loved one’s health. Consider these helpful tips to prepare for the upcoming evaluation:
1. Carefully consider your concerns regarding your loved one’s communication skills.
What aspects of communication are you most worried about? Observe and reflect on communication breakdowns: What are you observing? What causes them? Where do they happen? How do others react when communication difficulty arises? Write down your thoughts, providing any examples you can think of, and bring your concerns to the evaluation so you don’t forget to mention an important detail the day of. You know your loved one best, so the evaluating clinician will value your thoughts.
2. If possible, complete any required paperwork prior to the date of the evaluation.
Typically speech-language pathologists will ask for some background information prior to meeting the person to be evaluated. Provide detailed and accurate information, including any documentation regarding any prior concerns or therapy received elsewhere. Sending paperwork ahead of time gives the clinician time to review the person’s background and plan the evaluation session.
3. Ensure that you know the address of where the evaluation will be held, and how to get there.
Review the directions to account for uncertainty regarding traffic and parking. Plan to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to an appointment to ensure that the evaluation time will not be affected by a late arrival.
4. Talk to your loved one about the evaluation ahead of time.
Whether you’re scheduling the evaluation for a child or an adult, talk to him or her about where they will be going and what will happen. For children, you may say something along the lines of, “We’re going to meet a new person who wants to get to know you. You might play games, look at pictures, and do some other fun things.” The evaluating clinician may offer to see older clients individually and young children with their parents in the evaluation room.
5. Be honest with the clinician, and trust that they are taking your thoughts into full consideration.
Evaluations are a normal part of the evaluating clinician’s job, but every person evaluated is unique. Speech-language pathologists are familiar with the communication norms for every age, and they will depend on you to help offer your insight into your loved one’s strengths and weaknesses. The clinician will value your input during the evaluation.