A comprehensive evaluation is the starting point for speech and language therapy. This is how your Speech Pathologist comes to get a full picture of your child’s communication skills, their strengths and needs, and helps to determine their goals for therapy. In other words, your therapist needs to figure out where your child is to figure out where they are going.
While it’s important to capture a child’s needs, it’s equally important to capture their strengths. What are they doing well? Maybe they aren’t talking, yet they are using sounds and gestures to communicate what they want. Perhaps they aren’t imitating sounds, yet they will imitate clapping and other motor movements. These are all important to note.
In my reports, I use the word AND.
“Tyler did not imitate words today AND he imitated sounds.”
“Ally did not combine words today AND she did use single words and vocalizations. “
“Sarah did not engage in back and forth play AND she did engage in joint attention with her mother.”
Our words carry power and our language matters. The word “but” is defined as: “contrasting with what has already been mentioned.” “
Joey showed communicative intent, BUT he did not use words.”
“Ashley imitated gross motor movements, BUT she did not imitate sounds or words.”
When we say, “but” we are taking away from what a child did do.
When we use the word AND, we are giving equal value to both statements. We are effectively communicating what happened, yet not taking away the importance. Tyler may not be saying words, yet he is imitating sounds-and that’s a great start!
While reports are necessary, filling them with everything a child is doing wrong is not helpful for anyone. Focusing on a child’s strengths allows everyone on the team to see what a child is doing well! Our language makes a difference. A simple shift in language such as using “and” instead of “but” can change the outlook from one of discouragement to one of hope for the future.
Brooke Andrews, M.A. CCC-SLP is owner of The Speech Dynamic and offers speech therapy in homes and schools across Houston. Brooke specializes in speech and language development to toddlers and preschoolers and provides in-home speech therapy to families in Houston.