Speech and Language Services
The service descriptions provided on this and the other service description pages are intended to give a general overview of the service. They cannot go into every detail of each of the services.
Language Learning Evaluation
Comprehensive language learning tests are administered to children who exhibit APD and whose communication and learning skills are delayed or atypical. Since reading involves auditory-language processing in the brain, children who have reading difficulties need such an evaluation. In some cases, articulation tests may also be administered particularly when speech sound production (articulation) errors continue into the first grade, which may compound difficulties with sound-letter associations. Articulation also refers to how well a child pronounces sounds and words as well as how intelligible their language is in connected speech. Some, but not all, of the language functions that are assessed are:
- vocabulary knowledge (expressive and receptive),
- whether the child may experience word retrieval or word finding problems,
- if the child’s difficulty to speak is due to apraxia of speech,
- the child’s use of appropriate grammar (verbs, nouns, pronouns, etc.),
- use grammatical markers such as the -s to make a word plural (cats), the -ed to indicate tense (walked), the -ing (walking), etc.,
- the child’s ability to formulate syntactically correct sentences (Child uses incorrect word order “Outside he goes.” instead of the “He goes outside.”),
- the child’s ability to formulate questions and respond to them, (who, what, when, where, why),
- the ability to communicate using verbal and nonverbal cues; to detect and use nonverbal signals when speaking; and to understand inferences and idioms (pragmatics),
- a child’s phonological awareness skills, such as their ability to discriminate /p/ from /t/; to know that /t/ is the last sound at the end of the word “cat”, to know that the word cowboy has two “beats” or syllables, ability to rapidly and automatically name items (RAN), and many other phonological awareness skills that are prerequisites to learning to read.
Many formal, norm-referenced and informal measures may be used to evaluate language and language skills. Therapy and/or educational recommendations can be made based on this evaluation as well as a program to improve communication at home and socially.
Foreign Language Exemption
Some individuals have extraordinary difficulty learning a foreign language, despite normal intelligence and learning ability. Those with auditory and/or language learning disorders are frequently those who cannot learn a foreign language with a passing grade for academic requirement. A battery of auditory and language processing tests can be done to determine if deficits in either contribute to an individual’s difficulty learning a foreign language. Foreign language waivers and exemptions are recommended to those experiencing auditory and/or language processing deficits on as necessary basis. Some institutions of higher learning may also require a psychological evaluation in order to grant the foreign language exemption.
Children who enter school with auditory language weaknesses may "graduate from language therapy" only to surface in the middle or high school years with inadequately developed study skills.< After a child's weaknesses have been identified through an auditory-language processing evaluation, specific language-based strategies can be used to strengthen learning and verbal problem solving. Strategies for use in the classroom as well as when doing homework are developed. Children are provided with many different techniques, including but not limited to: helping them develop organizational skills, showing how to do and use semantic mapping (story webbing), improve their ability to organize their study time, learn to prepare prior to entering the classroom, improve lecture and note-taking ability, and learn test taking strategies. Referrals to other professionals may be made at the time of the parent educational meeting, following comprehensive testing, depending on the child's needs. When possible, networking to find appropriate professional support in other communities or states may be offered.