Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Speech Assessment, July 2013

Day 1

Well, like most nights before a test or assessment, I didn't sleep very well on Monday night. The day dawned bright and early as Sarah and I headed to the Health Unit to meet Tracy, the person who would do the assessment. Very shortly after we sat down, Sarah indicated she wanted to go home. Not a real surprise there. Her mood changed quickly though as she saw Wendy come alongside Tracy. It was (for me) a relief to see her there as well, knowing there'd be some moral support and someone who knows Sarah well.

The first part of the test was to measure where her receptive language skills are.

"There is no standard set of symptoms that indicates receptive language disorder, since it varies from one child to the next. However, symptoms may include:

  • Not seeming to listen when they are spoken to
  • Lack of interest when story books are read to them
  • Inability to understand complicated sentences
  • Inability to follow verbal instructions
  • Parroting words or phrases (echoalia)
  • Language skills below the expected level for their age
Receptive language disorder means the child has difficulties with understanding what is said to them. The symptoms vary between individuals but, generally, problems with language comprehension usually begin before the age of four years."
References taken from HERE

From what I can remember of the testing was Sarah looking at pictures and answering questions either verbally or by pointing. She'd be given four pictures to chose from (similar but different) and chose the one that fit the description that either Wendy or Tracy said to her. Once the sentences became more complex, she lost interest and we stopped at that point. For instance, "point to the picture where the girl is climbing and the boy is swinging." Another part that she struggled with was seeing three pictures and needing to point to the two that went together. She didn't like just pointing to one and she couldn't really answer why two would go together. An example would be a picture of blankets, a brick and a pillow. I think she knew that a blanket and pillow went together but could not tell us why. I did think that some of the correct answers were more of a fluke since she just wanted to be done. 

We will head back tomorrow to complete the testing to look at her expressive language. 

Once again though, she was very entertaining with her oversized yawns and fake sneezes. She always knows how to charm people!

Day 2

Well, I slept better last night than I did the previous. One downfall of today: Sarah crawled out of bed with me. At 5:55am. My first thought was "this is going to be one of those very long days." I am thankful for early morning appointments because at least she'll have only been awake for three hours rather than a possible 6 or 7 which puts her in less than fine form. Once she's been up for a good part of her day, the mood and attitude go downhill fast.

Today's testing was going to focus on expressive language.

"Symptoms of expressive language disorder differ from one child to the next and depend on the child’s age and the degree of the impairment. Common symptoms include:

  • Making grammatical errors, leaving off words (such as helper verbs) and using poor or incomplete sentence structure (for example, ‘He going work’ instead of ‘He’s going to work’ and ‘I talk’ instead of ‘I can talk’)
  • Using noticeably fewer words and sentences than children of a similar age
  • Using shorter, simpler sentence construction than children of a similar age
  • Having a limited and more basic vocabulary than children of a similar age
  • Frequently having trouble finding the right word
  • Using non-specific vocabulary such as ‘this’ or ‘thing’
  • Using the wrong words in sentences or confusing meaning in sentences
  • Relying on standard phrases and limited content in speech
  • Sounding hesitant when attempting to converse
  • Repeating (or ‘echoing’) a speaker’s words
  • Being unable to come to the point or talking in circles
  • Having problems with retelling a story or relaying information in an organised or cohesive way
  • Being unable to start or hold a conversation and not observing general rules of communicating with others
Expressive language disorder means a child has difficulty conveying information in speech, writing, sign language or gestures. The child may not use correct grammar, may produce very short phrases and sentences, and may have a small vocabulary. A speech pathologist usually assesses and treats this impairment.
References taken from HERE.

Today Sarah had to look at pictures and fill in the blank. For example "the boy is running, the girl is _______." (sitting) Or "this boy runs, this ______ sits." (girl) She got the first few right but wasn't able to use the word in the proper context all the time. The third part was looking at pictures and reciting what the image was. We got through the first few ok but lost her on footprint, telescope and firefighter. The final section was for Sarah to recite what she heard said. She did well with three word phrases but once they became more complex, she lost interest, probably because it was too hard for her.

Although I don't have the official results in my hand right now, the testing showed that both her receptive and expressive language skills are in the 0.1 percentile. That's a really low number. I didn't even know a scale went that low. In other terms, Sarah speaks like a young three year old. Kind of goes with the rest of her developmental stages.

I left the Health Unit with a very good idea of where Sarah is at and received some ideas on how to work on expanding her vocabulary. Although I knew her speech-abilities were not on par with her peers, it was slightly deflating. But, I do know that Sarah is still the same person she was yesterday and nothing will change that!

PS. If you found me through Ellen's Blogger Link Up, I'd love it if you'd follow my blog as well. I will do the same for you!


  1. I can relate to this so well. Our oldest son, who just turned five two weeks ago, was speech delayed (he also has sensory processing disorder). A doctor (not his regular one) at his pediatrician's office told us that our son was just lazy in his speech. I did not think so but I did not know any better. That was at his two year check-up. A few months later, he began day care, and a few months after that, he began speaking more than 10 words. We skipped his three year check-up but at his four year check-up, his regular doctor realized he needed help and recommended us to have a speech therapy evaluation. I knew he had problems pronouncing words. What I did not know is how much he struggled in other areas. When I read the reports (for both ST and OT), I was flabbergasted. My poor child struggled for so long to be heard and we didn't realize all that was going on. He has been in speech therapy since October of this past year and is making progress, although he still has a ways to go in many areas. The good news now is that I no longer am the only one who can understand him (although I still have to translate for him on occasion). :)

  2. Hearing the news that are babies are more delayed than we'd realized is deflating but you're so right - they are still the same kids that we love so much and knew the day before the tests. My son is extremely speech and language delayed as well but he is making progress, for which I am thankful. The pictures of Sarah are adorable!!

    1. Thanks Kristi,
      I think it helps to know we aren't alone in this journey either.

  3. Sounds like you've got a good idea of what to focus on now! I'm from Love that Max and am signing up for an email subscription!

    1. Nice to meet you Sylvia! Thanks for joining me! :)

    2. Thanks for stopping by Friendship Friday. Hope to see you again next week!

  4. You are amazing with amazing strength :)



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