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Tips for Using Play to Assess Speech Sounds

As SLPs know that we shouldn’t be choosing our articulation and phonology goals ONLY from Standardized Speech Sound Assessment Tests because:

  • There is often only one opportunity to demonstrate production of a speech sound.

  • Sounds are assessed at the single word level, so we don't have an idea about connected speech.

So, what’s another way that we can collect information during assessment?

Providing children with multiple opportunities to pronounce sounds in connected speech (conversation and play) and in single words!

Here are my top tips for using play to assess a child’s speech and language skills.

  • Have norms ready so you know what sounds to elicit during the assessment. The speech sounds you probe a three year old for will be different than for a five year!

  • Have an assessment engaging activity planned that you can use across the ages. Using the same activity for your play assessments can help you be consistent and familiar with the activity, so you can focus on the child (and not the task!).

  • Have a simple data sheet. Taking data during an assessment is crucial. Having an easy to access and easy to use data sheet will make your assessment run smoothly.

  • Have ideas of how to elicit different speech sounds. Plan what you will do before you head into the session so you don’t feel overwhelmed once you are in the session.

  • Consider what cues you will use to complete a Dynamic Assessment. That’s one of my favorite pros of a play based assessment - you can really figure out HOW to help the child - not just WHAT to help them with.

  • Have fun! Using play to assess speech and language is SO FUN (especially if you are used to pencil and paper tasks). Enjoy the time with your student and use this assessment time to build rapport.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can grab this FREE Play Based Speech Sound Assessment from my Freebie Library by signing up for my email list! It includes instructions, props, data forms, and norms - everything you need to PLAY and assess speech sounds!

Make sure to get on my email list (link at the bottom of the page)!


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