How To Interpret A Speech and Language Therapy Report
I have been asked by a number of schools to provide training on how to understand Speech and Language Therapy reports, which is something of a paradox, as we write these to provide information and advice on a child’s speech, language and communication difficulties. However, if readers are blinded by jargon, the reports are not as helpful as they could be. Here is some of the top terminology that I have been asked to explain over the years:
Speech is the articulation of speech sounds, e.g. k, t.
Examples of speech difficulties that might be mentioned in the report:
- A delay, which means that the child is developing speech sounds in the developmental order, but slower than their peers.
- A disorder, which means that the child is not developing speech sounds in the typical developmental order.
- Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia, which is difficulty producing individual speech sounds and sequencing them together in words, which can make their speech very difficult to understand. Children can also have oro-motor dyspraxia, which affects their ability to co-ordinate the movements of lips, tongue, palate, etc.
Voice is being able to produce voice for speech.
Examples of difficulties a child might have with voice are:
- Hoarse or croaky voice from excessive talking, shouting, screaming.
- Physical problems, e.g. ulcers and nodules on vocal cords.
Rhythm – speaking fluently without hesitations or stuttering.
Examples of difficulties a child might have with rhythm are:
The exact cause of stammering is unknown, but it is thought to be due to various factors including:
- Physical, such as family history and co-ordination development
- The child’s environment at home, school, nursery, etc
- Family dynamics and relationships
- Personality eg sensitivity, being a worrier or a perfectionist
- Speech and language, eg if the communication demands on the child are not in line with their current communication skills.
A stammer is when a child has difficulty talking fluently and they often get stuck, or do “bumpy talking.” Stammering usually starts between the ages of 2 – 5, coinciding with the rapid development of new physical and mental skills. About 5% of young children have difficulty talking fluently. Most of these will achieve normal fluency, but about 1% continue to stammer into adulthood.
- How human beings communicate, either spoken, written or signed.
- Putting words together in the correct order to make sentences
Receptive and Expressive Language
Receptive language means understanding language, and expressive language means use of language.
This is the mark that the child gets in assessment, i.e. adding up the correct answers. However, the raw score does not allow therapists to compare the child’s scores to other children’s so we need to convert the raw score to a different score so that we can compare the child’s performance to his peers.
The raw score can be converted to a scaled score and this allows the therapist to compare the child’s score to other children of the same age who did the same assessment.
A standardised assessment is a formal assessment that has been designed to compare a child’s scores to his peer group, e.g. it has been tested on a wide range of children to work out the average, below average and above average scores
A standardised score allows you to compare how children of the same age perform in an assessment. A percentile rank allows you to compare a child’s score to his peers nationally.
I hope this helps to demystify Speech and Language Therapy terminology and makes reports easier to understand. I could go on for pages! Please get in touch if you have any more jargon you would like explained!