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Preparing For Your First Appointment

From Teach Me How to Say it Right by Dorothy P. Dougherty, MA, CCC/SLP

Directions:  Please write the answers to the questions below in a journal or notebook that is reserved just for this use. Download this document (requires Adobe Reader - download it here free) This will give you more space to record the therapist's answers. Also, you'll be able to record any additional questions that come up during the interview, as well as the characteristic communication behaviors of your child at home.  Bring this notebook to your first appointment.

Here are some questions to ask before your first appointment:

1.  How soon can you see my child for an evaluation?

    1-2 weeks          2-4 weeks          4 or more weeks

2.  What hours do you work? 

    morning          afternoon          after school         weekends

It's important to schedule an appointment for a time when your child can be successful. For example, if you must schedule an appointment during his/her usual nap time or mealtime, this may not be advantageous.

3.  How long will the evaluation tate?

    1 hour           2 hours           more than 2 hours

It's important to know whether the speech/language therapist will evaluate your child's skills in one session, or require the two for you to return several times to complete the evaluation. Also, you want to set aside enough time from your schedule so as not to feel rushed or hurried. If you are nervous about being late, this could cause your child to feel uneasy too.

4.  How should I prepare for the evaluation?

The younger your child, the more the evaluator may rely on you to relay information about his/her strengths and weaknesses. Ask what kinds of background history you'll need to provide so that you can answer the therapist's questions completely and accurately.

Perhaps you'll need to refresh your memory by looking in your child's "Baby Book" or by reminiscing with your spouse or child-care provider. Be ready to answer all health-related questions completely and accurately. Make a list of questions to ask the therapist to help you understand your child's difficulties, and ask what to expect in treatment. At home, watch your child and make a list for the therapist of characteristic communication behaviors that you observe your child doing.

5.  How should I prepare my child for the evaluation?

It's important to prepare your child and set the tone for the evaluation. Sometimes, when children are in an unfamiliar setting with a stranger who asks them to talk, (not one of their favorite activities), the children won't demonstrate their true ability to communicate. Your child's level of comfort and cooperation will determine the success of the evaluation. Allow him/her to bring a special toy or book that may help "break the ice" between him/her and the therapist.

If you feel it would be helpful, explain in simple terms why you are going to see this special person and what is going to happen at his or her office. Encourage your child to ask you questions.  Explain in simple terms, "You'll look at a lot of pictures. This special teacher will write down the words that you say, and will help you learn to say words. This person will show me how to help you, too, so I can understand when you say something important." On the day and time of your appointment, your child should be well rested, fed and happy.

6.  Once you have evaluated my child, how long must he/she wait for treatment if it is needed?

  1-2 weeks          2-4 weeks          4 or more weeks

Again, you must feel comfortable that the speech/language therapist has answered your questions with a reasonable wait time.


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