Explaining Speech Language Evaluations in Parent Friendly Terms

ExplainingSpeechLanguageEvaluationsToParents

So you’ve completed your testing and written your report. Now it’s time to present the results to the student’s parents. This is delicate work; use empathy and try to put yourself in the parents’ place. Know your “audience”. This is not a time to dazzle them with your brilliance or to use all of the vocabulary that you learned in grad school.

Remember, we have our own lexicon and so does the education world. This can be a little overwhelming. A few years ago, I was in a meeting where a well-meaning special education resource teacher was telling a parent that her son was behind in his ability to decode and comprehend grade level informational text. She talked for a while and then asked the parent if she had any questions. The parent said, “you lost me 10 minutes ago, I have a 6th grade education and I have no idea what you are talking about.” That’s something I won’t ever forget.

  Parent friendly language is really important. We want to invite understanding and collaboration. When we are giving standard scores, percentiles, and standard deviations below the mean; we need to interpret and not overwhelm with information. Here are a few tips that I have found helpful:

  • Start with the child’s strengths, every parent wants to hear some good things about their child
  • Use pauses, take breaths. Try not to be nervous and rush through the information.
  • Encourage questions. If parents have a glazed look or are just nodding in agreement with everything-not a good sign.
  • Use visuals (don’t assume understanding of the Bell Curve) I created a simple visual that you can use to give an overall picture of what the child’s communication strengths and areas for improvement are.  The score range varies slightly by test but generally the average range is from 85-115. Mark scores right on the sheet or put in a plastic document cover and mark with dry-erase marker. This is not meant to replace the Bell Curve, it’s just an additional way to make results clear for parents.  Click Here for your free download.

SpeechLanguageEvaluationResultsataGlance

  • Provide examples
  • Explain how this will affect the child in his classes
  • Hopefully you had a chance to explain what areas you were testing at the pre-evaluation meeting. Now would be the time to briefly explain again the different areas of speech and language. I use this  chart available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.original-1415896-1
  • Let them know that you are available to answer any additional questions after they’ve had the opportunity to read the complete evaluation
  • If it looks like the child will qualify for services, give the parent an idea of what this will look like
  • Ask the parent what area they would like to see their child improve in first

Parents are such an important part of the team approach,  the more they understand; the stronger your team will be!

 

Speech vs. Language

 

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What is the best way to explain the difference between speech and language to parents and to teachers? I know many times there are misconceptions that we SLPs only deal with articulation errors and stuttering.  Accordingly, parents can wonder why their child is being referred to talk about the possibility of a language evaluation, when their child doesn’t mispronounce anything.

That is where our role as advocates and educators comes into play.  A simple explanation to parents can be a good starting point.  The American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) provides a clear explanation at http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/language_speech/.  We can paraphrase this in our own words, using parent-friendly language.  I always find visuals to be extremely helpful; so I created these posters that are available to download for FREE on TeachersPayTeachers. (Scroll down for the link).

At our school, we display them in the room where we have our IEP/MET meetings.  They are a great tool to use when explaining evaluation results.  For the teachers at our school, I do a brief inservice at the beginning of the school year, explaining speech and language and how all goals are linked to curriculum standards.  I also make myself available for quick consultations for teachers when they have concerns about a student.

I hope you enjoy the download, keep making the world better one child, one word at a time!

Anne

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