A pediatric therapy evaluation is the first step used to determine your child’s strengths and challenges in multiple areas and make an educated decision on whether therapy would be beneficial in further developing your child’s skills. As a parent, if you have concerns, about your child’s development and decide to request an evaluation, you will most likely be involved in the following process.
- History and Development Review: To start, most practices will need to review your child’s early developmental history. This includes information about their birth, what age milestones were met, and any relevant medical history. If your child has ever been evaluated before, you should bring copies of any reports to help with the current evaluation. If your child is in school, the therapist should also request information from your child’s school regarding challenges in the classroom.
- Home lifestyle review: One of the most important pieces of information will be a review of the child’s home life. The therapist should lead the discussion addressing your concerns, and goals for your child. The therapist may ask about challenges you have noticed, and other specific questions to help understand how your child is developing. If your child is old enough, they may be asked to participate in the interview.
- Observe and Assess: This is the step where the therapist should spend time talking or playing with your child to build trust and personally observe how your child interacts and communicates in an unstructured setting. This part of the assessments could include reviewing oral motor skills, expressive language or receptive language skills, speech production and fluency of speech skills, pragmatic or social language skills, feeding and swallowing skills, and reading and writing skills.
- Evaluation Report: The therapist will then compile all of the information gathered from the family, observations, and assessments and summarize it in a formal report. It will include a description of each area of assessment and its findings. Based on the results, the therapist will determine if therapy is necessary and if so, develop a plan for treatment. Specific goals to target the areas of need and a time frame for doing so will be included in the report.
Remember, all children develop at their own rates. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you should discuss them with your child’s pediatrician. If you feel your concerns are not being properly addressed, most pediatric therapists offer an evaluation that is free of cost and covers a review of your insurance benefits.