SLP working with a child

The relationship between a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and his/her clients should be an enjoyable and productive one for both parties. The SLP may know a lot about communication development and how to assess and treat communicative disorders, but it's parents who are the experts on their children. SLP and parents work as partners to help the child to achieve his/her most effective means of communication. Like any other relationship, developing an optimal therapeutic relationship takes time and effort. At each stage, there are things that both party can do to build the partnership.


Getting to Know Each Other

In the beginning, you may want to know many things about the SLP. Some questions that may be helpful for you to ask your child's SLP are:

  • How will my child's therapy help our family meet our goals?
  • How will we know if my child is making progress?
  • How can I get in contact with you if I have a question?
  • What can I do at home to help my child's progress?
  • Are you familiar with our home language? And if not, do you have strategies for providing the appropriate supports for our family?

Your child's SLP will also have a lot of things he/she wants to learn about your child and family. Some of the questions the SLP might ask you are:

  • At what ages did you child reach different milestones for communication development? (For example, babbling, first word, first word combination)
  • What are your child's strategies for communicating? (For example, pointing, leading you by the hand, speaking, signing, using pictures, or gesturing)
  • What kinds of words does your child say?
  • What kinds of things and how much does your child understand?
  • Did any significant or unusual events occur during pregnancy or in development?
  • Are there any significant events in the child's medical history? (For example, chronic ear infections, major illness, vision problems, or feeding difficulties)
  • Does your child have any notable social preferences? (For example, very attached to people, very aloof with people, joins children in play, avoids children, pays attention to others, or ignores others most of the time)

View a sample parent questionnaire used by a speech-language pathologist.


Evaluation and Assessment
After your initial meeting with your child's SLP, the SLP will evaluate your child. This evaluation is the SLP's way of finding out how your child communicates. It will help the SLP figure out where to begin with your child in speech therapy. The SLP may give your child formal tests that provide a better idea of your child's strengths and areas that they may need more support in. There may also be an informal assessment, where the SLP observes and analyzes how your child communicates during an everyday activity such as free play or during class. The SLP will also rely on you as an important source of information since you know your child the best.

After the evaluation, you will receive a copy of the formal report your SLP has written. In this report, the SLP will explain how they saw your child perform, and will include any recommendations they may have for your child. If your child is receiving services through the school district, you should receive this information before your child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting is set up. When you get your copy of the report, it may seem difficult to understand at first. Evaluation reports are usually very detailed, which can make them hard to read. The report might also use words to describe your child that you have never heard of before. Don't be afraid to ask the SLP what something means if you don't understand it! Often both professionals and parents find test scores difficult to understand. This article on How Standardized Language and Speech Testing Works offers a user-friendly guide to understand what your child's test scores mean. You should also feel free to give the SLP suggestions for the report if you feel anything is missing or inaccurate.



Your child will spend some time every week working with the SLP. Speech-language therapy can take place at school, in the classroom, or in the home environment. The SLP will be working on goals that have been established based on the areas that your child needs support in. The SLP will try to make therapy time an enjoyable time for your child while tracking their progression. Parents are an important part of the therapy process because they spend the most time with the children and because they are their children's most important communication partners. The SLP should team up with you to come up with things to do at home to enhance your child's communication. You should have just as much say as the professional does about your child's therapy goals and how they are carried out. At the core of a family-centered partnership is that both parties feel valued and respected and feel comfortable sharing decision-making.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is speech-language pathology?
  2. What are the qualifications of a speech-language pathologist?
  3. When should I seek help from a speech-language pathologist?
  4. How can I find a speech-language pathologist?
  5. What kind of funding support is available for speech-language pathology services?
  6. What speech-language pathology resources are available in the Bay Area?


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