If your child is of nursery or school age then the first thing to do is to make an appointment to talk to their key worker or class teacher and the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) at their nursery or school about your concerns. Some SENCo’s may carry out some initial observations or assessments of your child. Depending on the outcome of these assessments they may suggest some support strategies for your child in school and may also have some ideas about how you can help your child at home. They may also suggest a referral to a professional such as a Paediatrician, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, or Educational Psychologist.
Depending on whether your child attends a state or independent school they may be able to access Local Authority/ Children’s Services such as Educational Psychology Service and NHS services such as Speech and Language Therapy or Occupational Therapy for support and advice. It is advisable to check with school staff whether these services are available and what the referral criteria are. These services are free but your child would need to meet the criteria for referral and you could be put on a waiting list.
You can also call The Ed Psych Practice to discuss with us your concerns and ask any questions you may have about the services we offer and the costs involved. When you decide to go ahead and book an appointment, we will link you to a relevant professional on our team who can best address your child’s presenting concerns.
A full assessment of your child will depend on the presenting concerns. If an Educational Psychologist is carrying out a learning assessment, it will include a detailed examination of their cognitive abilities, academic attainments in literacy and numeracy, and diagnostic tests where appropriate.
If your child is being seen by an Occupational Therapist, relevant assessments are carried out to assess their fine and gross motor skills and sensory profile.
For therapeutic support, an initial meeting with the parents and child or young person is carried out to explore presenting issues and to agree the goals for the intervention.
If a Speech and Language Therapist is seeing your child, relevant tests are carried out examining a child’s expressive and receptive language skills
Information is also gathered from parents and schools using pre assessment questionnaires. Other professional reports are also taken into consideration. Sometimes observations are carried out at the child’s learning environment as a starting point to the assessment depending on the presenting concerns.
Children develop at different rates. Some children may find some things particularly hard such as:
For various reasons they are not reaching their full potential or struggling to keep up with their peers. If this is the case an EP Assessment might be useful to identify areas of strength and weaknesses to support your child’s development.
An assessment session will typically last between 30 minutes and an hour. A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) will usually start by talking to you about your child's early history and development and gathering some information about your concerns. The assessment they do will look at how well your child's speech and language skills are developing compared to what we would expect for a child of their age.
Depending on the age of your child and the type of difficulty that they have they will do a number of different tasks and activities. For some children, particularly younger ones, the assessment may be done through the SLT or parent playing alongside your child, or watching them play. This is known as 'informal' assessment. They will be looking at the way your child understands language, how well they are talking and which sounds they are able to use in their speech.
Sometimes an SLT will carry out a 'formal' assessment. This means they work with your child using a number of published assessments, many of which are standardised. Standardised tests mean that they are able to give your child a score comparing them to other children of the same age. Doing this lets them see if a child is developing, as they should be, or if their speech and language is delayed.
The SLT will then tell you how they think your child is doing, and whether they feel your child needs to get some extra help with their speech and language development. They will usually write a report about the assessment.
A multi-disciplinary assessment means that more than one professional will assess a child or young person, and they will talk to the other people involved to help them work out where the main difficulties are.
A multi disciplinary assessment may involve an Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist or other professional, depending on the needs of the child. We work closely with some paediatricians and psychiatrists who might be part of this assessment depending on the presenting concerns of the child or young person.
Depending on the age of your child and presenting concerns the EP will advice you on when your child should be reassessed. Some standardized assessments have a retest period of 18-24 months to reduce practice effects. Thus we carefully consider the presenting issues, developmental history and time of the previous EP assessment (if appropriate) to decide when or whether a reassessment is necessary.
Prior to the assessment we gather as much information as possible from different sources such as the school, parents and other professionals who might be involved with the child. Information gathering is through questionnaires, school reports, development history, and areas of strengths and weaknesses. On the day of the assessment, the EP will first meet parents to have a structured interview based on information shared. After that the EP will complete various assessments with the child or young person, which might include cognitive tests (IQ tests), attainment tests (literacy and numeracy), emotional tests and some diagnostic tests. The testing can vary from 1.5 – 2.5 hours depending on the age of the child and the speed they work at. After that the EP will give the parents feedback on ways forward.
The assessment can take place at the practice, in the child’s learning environment, or at the family home. We decide the best environment for the assessment to be carried out taking into account the presenting concerns. Many children feel shy or nervous about meeting someone new and this is normal. You can help to prepare your child by treating the visit as a ‘normal everyday’ event. It’s best not to talk about testing, as this can be off-putting for a child; for some children when it is viewed as a ‘test’ they feel that something is ‘wrong’ with them. Most children will respond positively to the idea of doing some fun activities that will help us to find out what they do well.
When the assessment takes place at the practice, following your arrival, the first few minutes will be spent allowing your child to relax and feel comfortable. We encourage parents to bring something along such as books to read or games to keep their child busy while the professional first explores presenting concerns with them. If your child needs to be closely supervised please bring a responsible adult along with you. After the initial discussion with parents, the professional will assess your child and after that, feedback is given on suggested ways forward. We do have a waiting area but if the assessment is long, there are a number of cafes and shops within walking distance.
If your child is coming for therapeutic support, often the child is dropped off at the practice and the professional will agree on a time when the parents can return for the child to be picked up.
A full report is sent to you within three weeks of the assessment. The report will include information about tests that were used, results, conclusions, and recommendations for supporting your child. The aim of the report is to give you, the parents, and any other adults working with your child, information and advice that will enhance the understanding of your child’s strengths and needs in order to support their ongoing development.
Having an assessment with an EP/SLT/OT should be a pleasant event in a child’s life. Here are some tips to help ensure a good assessment experience:
There are many different ways to carry out an assessment of a child’s speech, language and communication needs and occupational therapy needs. Part of the assessment process will involve gathering information from parents, carers and teachers. Depending on presenting concerns observations and informal play based activities may be part of the assessment process, which may be carried out, in the home or educational setting. Formal assessments using standardised tests are also used depending on the age of the child. We will always carry out assessments in a sensitive manner and do our best to ensure that the process is fun and engaging for the child.
No, you can refer your child directly to The Ed Psych Practice
Therapy sessions take place at our practice, in your home or at your child’s nursery or school depending on the age of the child and presenting concerns.
The sessions will depend on your child's individual needs, response to therapy and your commitment. You may be offered a block of therapy sessions followed by a review of your child’s progress at which point next steps will be discussed. A standard therapy session lasts 45 - 60 minutes depending on the age of your child. Most of this time will be spent working directly with your child but may include time to discuss your child’s progress and new activities to work on. Sessions are charged on a pro rata basis.
Occupational Therapy enables children and young people to participate in daily life to improve their health and wellbeing. Daily life is made up of many activities (or occupations). Occupations for children or young people may include self-care (getting ready to go out, eating a meal, using the toilet), being productive (going to nursery or school, or volunteering), and leisure (playing with friends or doing hobbies). Children who have sensory needs and weak motor skills may find it difficult to engage in activities described above.
An Occupational Therapist will need to identify and understand a child or young person’s usual occupations to discover what difficulties they face. They will support the child or young person, their family and other relevant people such as teachers, to evaluate challenges and strengths in doing occupations.
The Occupational Therapist may suggest alternative ways of doing things, providing advice on learning new approaches and techniques, or making changes to the environment, for example, through using equipment or adaptations.