Why is the Speech Therapist Just Playing with my Child? When Assessment Seems Like a Waste of Time

You’ve waited a long time for a speech and language assessment and now you are here, you’re not sure whats going on! Your child is having great fun,  but what has this got to do with their speech and language skills?

Here’s the deal. Evidence tells us that Speech and Language assessment for children in the early years should always be embedded in play.  But that’s not all, when a child is engaged in play, they are more likely to relax. they are less likely to feel like they are being tested and are more likely to demonstrate their language skills as they would at home.

Let me be a bit more specific, in an assessment a therapist is looking at several areas of your child’s development these are:

  • Attention and listening
  • Understanding of language
  • Speaking and Talking
  • Speech sounds
  • Play
  • Social skills

So, here’s what is in store for you: The speech therapist will have a range of toys available to your child targeted at different developmental levels. The toys your child engages with will give them information about the child’s cognitive ability, their attention and their play skills.

The therapist will be looking at what your child understands by asking your child to follow instructions, things like pass the ‘plate to mummy’. If your child can follow this it shows the therapist they are able to follow instructions at a 2 word level (they need to understand plate and mummy). But,  remember, it is all hidden in the play.

Not only that,  the therapist will also be recording anything your child says as well as commenting on their non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication is anything your child does to convey meaning without using real words,  take a look at this video. These twins aren’t using any words but there is so much communication going on: shared eye contact, gestures, vocal intonation, body language and facial expression. That is what your therapist is looking for during the assessment. 

Remember, A good therapist should be able to tell you what they are doing and why during the assessment so don’t worry,  it’s ok to ask :)


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