What Does an Initial Speech Session Look Like?
You have been referred to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and have your initial appointment coming up or maybe you are debating booking an initial appointment. This blog is to provide information as to what an initial session with a speech-language pathologist at Wildflowers looks like!
- Upon entering the room, you will typically see a few different games and toys. Your child will be given a toy or game to get comfortable in the room and keep busy while the SLP asks some interview questions. The questions will vary based on the area of concern. The SLP will also ask follow-up questions based on the intake form that is completed before the session. The interviews’ purpose is to gain information that will be helpful in creating goals for your child near the end of the initial appointment.
- The SLP will initiate play with your child to gain unstructured information. As it looks like the SLP is just playing with your child, they are gaining very important information. The SLP is paying attention to how your child produces sounds, what words they are using, if they use gestures, how or if they use words to interact with others, what sentence types they are using, how they play with toys, etc. This information allows the SLP to see the areas of concern in an unstructured way which helps them decide what areas they need to assess further. This is also to build rapport with your child as a good relationship will be key in how your child responds to intervention.
- Depending on the area of concern, this will look different. The SLP will introduce a screening measure to identify if your child has difficulty with a certain skill or not. From that information, the SLP will decide if further assessment needs to be done in that area. For example, if your child has difficulty producing a sound, the SLP will identify that sound during an unstructured task (play), identify it during a speech screening, then assess further to determine what position the sound is in error (initial, medial, and/or final) and at what level (words, phrases, sentences, conversation). All this information is used to create goals and sets a clear starting point for following sessions.
- Creating goals
- The SLP will collect all the information gained through different measures during the initial session and state the appropriate goals for your child. The SLP will also ask what is important to you to be worked on so the goal making process is collaborative and meaningful.
- This is not as scary as it sounds! The SLP will provide strategies or information for you to implement at home to help prepare your child to work on their goals in future sessions. There will always be “homework” sent home after each session, so you know how to practice the skill at home and in other environments.
At the end of the initial session, the SLP will write down some background information, unstructured observations, screening observations, and recommendations on a note for you to take home. The SLP will review all the information collected with you. The goal is that you leave with a better understanding of the skills your child is having difficulty with, clear goals that will be targeted in follow up sessions, and ways to start working on the skill at home and in other environments.
Please keep in mind that other SLP’s at other clinics may do things differently and the initial session may look different depending on your child’s age!
Blog Post by Registered Speech-Language Pathologist, Kristen Lipp