Evaluation/IEP Process

Oftentimes when a child is referred for speech and language testing, the process can be very overwhelming and confusing for the parents.  There are so many acronyms, abbreviations, jargon, and daunting sounding terms that it is easy to become confused.  It is easy to forget that parents may have never gone through an evaluation for their child before and don't know a standard deviation from a phoneme.  (It took me at least two weeks in college to figure out what a standard deviation was so I shouldn't expect parents to understand it in a 5 minute conversation over the phone.)  The following is a glossary that I have created to help parents understand the confusing terminology of speech and language.  I have borrowed from various sources and some are my own definitions.

annual goal the proposed end result of a year's therapy.
articulation Producing speech sounds
articulation disorder Consistently making sounds incorrectly past the age where 90% of children are able to make them e.g. 90% of all 4 year olds can make the /k/ sound.  
ASHA American Speech Language & Hearing Association-national accreditation and governing agency of speech language pathologists and audiologists.
average range The range of scores that most children of a certain age group received on a standardized test.  
augmentative communication Device or system used to produce or replace oral speech
backing making sounds in the back of the mouth when they should be made in the front of the mouth. "tan" becomes "can", "do" becomes "goo".
central auditory processing disorder Deficits in perception, retrieval, analysis, organization and use of auditory (heard) information that is not due to impaired ear function. 
cluster reduction Phonological process where clusters are simplified because it's just easier to say that way. e.g. "street" becomes "teet" or "treet".
deletion Leaving sounds out of words  
developmental dyspraxia Speech sound errors caused by motor programming difficulties.  See this link for an in depth definition dyspraxia
developmental norms List of age ranges that speech sounds or language skills are generally mastered- used as the basis for qualification for services or to determine if assessment is needed. 
dysfluency Also known as stuttering
evaluation Using standardized testing and functional observation to determine eligibility for services.  Signed parent permission must be given to proceed with any testing.
expressive language How one talks to or uses language to communicate.
fronting Making sounds in the front of the mouth when they should be made in the back of the mouth. "can" becomes "tan", "goo" becomes "do"
gliding /r/ and /l/ sounds are substituted with /w/ sounds
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act-Federal legislation which mandates free and appropriate education to all eligible children with disabilities.
IEP Individual Education Plan- a legally binding plan for providing services for a child aged 3 to 21 years.   
IFSP Individual Family Service Plan-service plan for newborns up to the age of 3.
initial, medial & final first, middle and end respectively in regard to word position.  Usually is used to denote in what part of a word a speech sound error occurs or where we are going to start working on a sound.
intelligibility The ability to be understood by unfamiliar listeners.
language disorder Difficulty in understanding (receptive) and/or using (expressive) language
least restrictive environment The most optimal place for a child's learning to take place.
mean The absolute average score.  
modifications What needs to be done in the classroom to help a child e.g. allow more response time, reinforcing good speech sounds etc.
morphemes the smallest individual units of meaning in words e.g. "-ed" endings on past tense verbs or "-s" for plurals.
norm The typical performance on a standardized test.
objective A sequential part or step of a therapy plan.
phoneme an individual speech sound /r/, /s/, /t/ usually is always set off by slashes /   /.
phonemic awareness Being aware of the sounds that make up spoken words.  It is supposed to be a good foundation for learning to read and spell.
phonological processing Difficulty in following the rules of a sound system of a language.
pragmatics How a child uses language socially to communicate with others.
psychological  testing Usually consists of intelligence testing and in some cases behavior ratings.
receptive language Understanding what one hears.
remediation Treatment of a speech or language delays and errors.
screening A quick look at a child's behaviors to determine whether a full blown evaluation is necessary.  Generally doesn't require parent permission.  Usually done across certain grade levels.
semantics Knowing what words mean and how they relate to each other.
secondary behaviors Behaviors that a stutterer does to avoid or to get out of a stuttering moment.  They often become habituated and distracting to listeners.  They can include eye blinks, grimaces, lip pursing and leg slapping.
standard deviation How we measure how close or how far from the average score a child falls.  1.5 standard deviations below the norm on a standardized test is the criteria for qualifying for services. 
stuttering Speech that contains repetitions, prolongations, silent blocks, filler words and struggling behaviors.  
syllable reduction A phonological process where the child drops syllables out of words because they are too difficult to produce. e.g. "banana" becomes "nana".  This is a very common and normal process for young children.
syntax Word order
utterance length The number of morphemes in what one says i.e. the length of a spoken phrase.
word specific error Articulation errors that exist only in certain words.  The child is able to produce the sound in almost all words except for a few specific instances.  This type of error is quite common does not require speech services.  Some adults even do this!


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