A Mum asked what to expect from an assessment the other day and I thought there are probably lots of other parents who feel overwhelmed or confused by this process. So today I’m going to let you all know what is reasonable to expect from your initial consultation with a speech therapy professional. Then I will let you know what to expect from your first consultation if we are your speech pathologist of choice so you can understand the unique process the team at Chatterbugs has developed to consistently deliver an exceptional service in your first consultation.

First of all, the terms speech therapist, speech pathologist, speech-language pathologist, speech and language therapist, SLT, SALT, SLP are all used internationally to identify speech therapy professionals. Different countries have difference registration requirements and terminology but you should always check the professional registration of the speech professional you are considering seeing to make sure they are appropriately qualified. To make this easy for you here are a few of the professional associations for different countries:
USA American Speech and Hearing Assocation (ASHA)
UK Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT)
Canada Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC)
Australia Speech Pathology Australia (SPA)
Ireland The Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists (IASLT)
South Africa South African Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SASLHA)

Here at Chatterbugs all our Speech Pathologists (or speech therapists if you prefer that term) are fully qualified and registered with Speech Pathology Australia. So once you’ve found a speech therapist and booked an appointment what can you expect for you and your child?

1. Normally the Speech Pathologist will gather some information from you about your child prior to your appointment. This is commonly called a case history. This is important because it helps the therapist know which assessment tools and techniques will potentially be most useful for your child.
2. The initial consultation will usually involve a combination of talking to you and observing, playing with and asking your child to do different things. Speech Pathologists can learn a lot about a child by watching how they play and respond to a communication partner so don’t worry if they just seem to play rather than “test” them as this will provide valuable information in how best to help your child.
3. Sometimes the therapist will use “formal assessment tools”. This means they will use a set of standard toys, books, pictures and tasks to test different aspects of your child’s communication. It is normal for children to cope easily with some of these tasks and then to have difficulty with others as the therapist is working out what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are.
4. The therapist will then provide some information either verbally or in writing regarding your child’s difficulties and their recommendations. Sometimes there can be a lengthy time period between when the assessment is conducted and when you receive this feedback to allow time for the SLT/SLP to compile and analyse all the information they have gathered.

So that’s how it usually works regardless of where you live in the world or what service you access. So, what makes Chatterbugs different?

We call it our 3 Simple Steps Plan. It’s a process that all of our SLPs follow for initial consultations to make sure you get clear, timely and concise communication regarding your child. It also means that you have information from Day 1 in how to support and help your child’s progress. We designed and refined the process in order to deliver a “Service Worth Talking About”.
Here’s how it works:
1. We summarise two key points on your journey – where your child is now and where you want them to be in the future.
2. We use these reference points to then work out 3 Simple Steps to get you there. Firstly a clear and easy to understand treatment recommendation based on research evidence, your child’s individual needs and our clinical expertise. Secondly, a home practice strategy so you can start helping your child straight away. Thirdly a time point when we will review the goals and progress and re-evaluate your child to make sure we are constantly staying focused on achieving great outcomes for your child.

How to prepare your child for an initial consultation at Chatterbugs:
1. Tell them they are coming to play with (Therapist’s Name) and they might look at some books together.
2. DON’T tell them they need to talk etc. this creates pressure that will mean they are less likely to interact with the therapist.
3. If a favourite toy would help them feel comfortable feel free to bring this along but avoid bringing electronic devices or dummy/pacifier that might limit your child’s ability to engage with the therapist.

So, if you are located in Toowoomba, Dalby, Gatton, Cambooya, Highfields or any of the surrounding areas to our clinic and would like to have 3 Simple Steps to help your child’s speech, language, literacy or feeding then you can book now for an initial assessment consultation with one of our fully qualified Speech Pathologists.