How to Organize Speech Therapy Materials by Theme

How to Organize Speech Therapy Materials by Theme

Raise your hand if you start the year strong with organization, and by the end of September, you find yourself scouring through laundry piles of resources and worksheets. I know I can’t be the only one out there! I decided to get serious about how to organize my speech therapy materials by themes. Here are some ways you can organize themed therapy materials, so you don’t have to constantly find yourself thinking, “I swear I put that articulation packet in this folder…..”

How to Organize Speech Therapy Materials When You Are Using Them

One thing I invested in is these file storage crates. They are so easy to find and such a game-changer.  You can find these file storage crates at Staples, Target, Walmart, or Amazon.  You want to make sure the crate will fit the hanging file folders legal and letter-sized folders. I used the legal size so it is wider and can fit books and wider folders better. Some will fit the As you can see in the picture, I label each file folder with my themes. When I’m looking for a particular themed activity, I’ll know exactly where to look in the crate which saves me a ton of time. This is especially helpful for organizing themed therapy materials for my whole classroom or push-in activities. When I first started organizing with crates, I quickly realized the file folders were essential! Without them, my materials turned into another pile, but this time they were in a crate instead of my desk!

Speech Material Organization with Zipper Pouches


Suppose you love having all your themed materials together but don’t have time to organize them every day perfectly. In that case, you need to learn how to organize speech therapy materials functionally so you can quickly clean up after a long day!

Using file pouches from Dollar Tree or zipper pouches on Amazon (affiliate link included.) Like the crates, they are super easy to find and an excellent organizational investment. These zip pouches are perfect for those themed activities that require a lot of components. For example, crafts, core word squares, books, and sentence strips. It’s super easy to keep all of the themed components in one place with these pouches. You can grab them and transport the speech therapy materials easily around campus. 

A quick tip: I recommend purchasing more durable, plastic ones if you are interested in buying these pouches. This helps keep your materials from bending or creasing, and they don’t “flop” as much for easier storage.

Organize Your Story Themed Materials in a Scrapbook Box

This blog post will tell you all the best tips for organizing your themed therapy materials, so you can quickly find the activities you need!

Scrapbook boxes are a great tool to organize themed materials and lesson plans. These boxes are wide and deep enough to store your theme-related books and companion activities.

The best place to find these scrapbook boxes is at Michaels.

I love these scrapbook boxes because I can use them to store the books I want, the activities, any pouches I have for my loose cards and materials, craft examples I want to use, and all of my visual supports. They are so easy to label, grab, use, and reorganize at the end of my day. I’ve cut down so much time on my planning and organizing once I started using these scrapbook boxes.

Check out my video on Facebook or Instagram to see what my scrapbook box and pouch organizational systems look like using an ocean theme!

Use Binders to Organize Your Speech Materials for Themes


In binders, you can store your theme’s word lists, lesson plan notes, speech therapy worksheets, visual supports, and flashcards!

One of my MOST favorite office supply finds is the binder envelope pouches because you can put flashcards and task cards in the pouch and easily store them in your themed binder.

Because we serve different ages and skill levels, keeping a graphic organizer with task cards in the same place is excellent. For all the binder office supplies, head to my Amazon storefront.

You can use the Avery tab dividers to organize materials by skill, such as articulation, receptive language, vocabulary, etc. Or, you can put activities in the binder by grade level and type, such as prek-1st, 2nd-3rd, open-ended games, and visual supports. 


Use Zipper Pouches and Bins to Keep Sensory Bins Neat

One thing I love to incorporate into my therapy is themed sensory bins. However, these sensory bins and the loose materials I put in them can get super messy and time-consuming to organize. Using zipper pouches and a storage bin has helped keep my sensory bin materials neat. First, I store the loose cards or small toys in smaller zipper pouches. Then, I store the “sensory” materials in their zipper pouch. You can then place the sensory bin filler, smaller items, and materials all in one larger zipper pouch. Then, when it’s time for you to assemble your sensory bin, you can grab the zipper pouch and all the contents are together. Check out this blog post for more details

More Tips for SLP Organization


Looking for more ways to get your office or your materials organized? Take a look at my 7 Tips for Organization.

If you’re an SLP that has an articulation/phonology-heavy caseload, then you’ll want to take a peek at my previous blog post where I talk about setting up articulation folders to help with organization.

Digital organization solutions for SLPs doing teletherapy or wanting to keep their PDFs and digital materials in one spot can check out this post HERE

I love seeing how other SLP’s get organized and what works best for them. Let me know in the comments your favorite way to stay organized throughout your school year!

Setting Up Articulation Speech Folders For Students

Setting Up Articulation Speech Folders For Students

Recently, I polled the SLPs that follow me on Instagram to see how many of us make individual student folders for our caseloads. It was a pretty even 50/50 split of speech pathologists that do make individual folders and those that don’t.

I personally do not make individual speech folders for each child on my caseload. I use a giant therapy binder that has tabs for each child on my caseload. If I cover two schools, then I store a therapy binder at each school. 

Setting Up Articulation Speech Folders

For each student, I store their therapy logs, a communication log, their IEP-at-a-glance, and specialized data sheets as needed. Typically, I just flip back and forth between students to keep everything documented. 

However, I always have certain students that I service in a quick artic model, or I want to have some specialized visuals organized for my artic students to use when running mixed groups. In these circumstances, I will make an articulation speech folder for the individual student or the particular sound/phonological process. Today, I am going to share how you can set up your own articulation speech folders to help you streamline your therapy planning process.

Why I Make Articulation Speech Folders

Let’s face it. We have limited time for planning therapy. And sometimes we are doing our quick artic in the hallways or targeting articulation goals with mixed groups. It is hard for me to keep visuals, homework sheets, flash cards, etc. organized for my articulation students. Having all of the tools I may need in one speech folder helps me to be prepared for therapy. Planning therapy is less stressful because I can grab the folder knowing that everything I need is ready to use.

Or, if I have 3-4 students working on a certain phonological process, I can make one folder for that process and have all the speech materials I need to remediate that process. The only other thing I may need to grab is a toy, a game, or a manipulative to use with all the tools in the speech folder. 


Materials to Make Articulation Speech Folders

To make your speech folder, you do need some organizational materials to make it work. I am going to show you what I do, but feel free to adapt for your caseload. Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.

What other office supplies have you found helpful to include in your student’s speech folders? Share in the comments!

What to Include in Your Articulation Speech Folder

When setting up your articulation speech folder, you want to have an idea of where the child is performing with learning his/her sound. If the child is at the syllable level, then you can include materials and visuals for that level, as well as add in materials for the word and phrase level.

Grab these FREE Articulation Syllable Practice Sheets in my TPT store. 

This allows you to have extra materials ready in the event that the student progresses quicker than you expected. You will be ready to adapt the therapy session easily without racking your brain on what to do next.

Here are some helpful things to include in your speech folder:

-Therapy logs (I use the logs from The Speech Bubble SLP or SLP Toolkit)

-Specialized Articulation or Phonology Data Sheets to track progress. Here is my FREE Articulation Data Sheet template. If you need more specialized sheets, you can grab them HERE

– Visual Supports to help with articulation production or to increase self-awareness. You can add speech sound cue cards from Bjorem Speech in the envelope file pouch. 

-Data graphs or self-awareness visuals can be helpful to incorporate into a session. Grab some FREE articulation carryover visuals by clicking the button below.

– Word lists or materials to use for quick drill practice, like these free flash card lists for older developing sounds or my Articulation Flipbooks. Sometimes I will print up pages from my Any Craft Companion Pack and store in the speech folder. 

Homework forms that help track if the student is practicing at home. I use these ones from Kiwi Speech (FREE printable). For your students that you are creating home programs, you can have homework sheets in this folder ahead of time, so you can easily plan and track homework assignments. This is a free homework sheet once students get to the carryover level in my STORE

These FREE Articulation Homework Word List Strips by Simply Speech can be in your students folder. You can customize the word lists based on your students performance during the session and send home.

Other Helpful Forms to Include in Your Speech Folders

If you like to have an individual folder for each student, here are some forms that will help you keep things organized for each student:

FREE SLP Attendance Form by Natalie Synders

Communication Log (FREE) in Sublime Speech’s Starter Kit to document interactions with the child’s parent or teacher

Please share any other forms, visuals, or tools you would add to your articulation speech folders in the comments! You can also tag me on instagram @thedabblingspeechie with your articulation speech folder setup.

Blog Posts To Help You Plan Articulation Therapy

As busy SLPs, it is easy to struggle with ideas on how to increase repetitions or keep your students motivated with articulation practice. Here are some blog posts with ideas to make your articulation therapy productive and fun:

SLP Subscriptions and Websites To Help You Work Smarter!

SLP Subscriptions and Websites To Help You Work Smarter!

Having the right speech therapy resources for the busy SLP is important. When we have the tools we need, SLPs can serve students better and more efficiently. I know my lesson planning is a lot easier because of the speech therapy resources I have found over the years. Slowly, I have been able to build my stash of helpful therapy tools. The advancements with technology have really opened the doors for helping SLPs have access to speech therapy resources they need. Back when I was first starting out in the field in 2007, there was no Pinterest. And blogs, YouTube, and Teachers Pay Teachers were just starting out, so I had no idea about these resources. 

Using Online Resources Can Help You Streamline Caseload Management

Having access to so many websites has been such a blessing for me as an SLP. The job will always be hard, but I have found some websites that I use over and over again to help me be successful as an SLP. Today, I want to share 10 websites that help busy SLPs be more effective with their jobs.

FREE Speech Therapy Websites That Help SLPS

  1. YouTube is one of my most utilized speech therapy resources. I love that it is free, and new content is always being added. YouTube allows me to plan no prep/low prep therapy and to cover a lot of different goals. Here are some of my favoriteYouTube channels.
    • Simon’s Cat Videos – Check out this blog post to see how you can use this channel in therapy. 
    • SciShowKids – Need a YouTube channel that has LOTS of non-fiction videos that are about five minutes in length or less? There are so many great non-fiction videos to access. I have used her BEE videos in this blog post HERE
    • GoNoodle – For your wiggly students, movement brain break videos are awesome! I utilize these videos when teaching my push-in lessons for my SDC K-2 classes. 
    • Storyline Online – This is a channel that has celebrities read popular children’s books out loud. When you don’t have time to hit the library or want to use a certain book, head to YouTube. There are lots of read-aloud books on there. 

More FREE Speech Therapy Websites

Other videos that I love to use are wordless short videos, commercials, and TV/movie video clips. What YouTube channels do you love using with students?

2.  ReadWorks is a free website providing fiction and non-fiction reading passages by grade level. It will read a passage to a student and also includes pre-picked vocabulary that you can target in the passage. You can also get comprehension questions with answer choices for each passage. 

3. EdPuzzle is a free website that allows educators to add questions to videos. You can create multiple choice questions or open-ended questions that will pause the video in the moment when you want to ask a question. I use this for wh- questions, inferencing, and vocabulary. 

4. VocabGrabber – Research continues to show that teaching students Tier II vocabulary words will help them grow their vocabulary skills. So, I love using this free website to get the Tier II vocabulary from textbook passages, fictional books,  and non-fiction passages. 

Speech Therapy Resources with Paid Subscription Websites

5. Themed Therapy SLP Membership – For school-based SLPs working with preschool and elementary aged students, you can make themed lesson planning easier using this membership! We provide book companions, printable task cards, open-ended games, links to YouTube videos, crafts, non-fiction passages, and so much more for 36 themed units. We want to take lesson planning off your plate so you can enjoy your students and help them make progress with their speech and language goals. 

6. The Informed SLP – SLPs are super busy. After a long day of conducting therapy and paperwork, we just don’t have the brain space or energy to stay up-to-date with the latest research articles on a monthly basis. I want the research info, but I need it in the “Cliff Notes” version so I can efficiently figure out how to apply the research to my students. Then, The Informed SLP came along, and I became a customer. Every month, the team at The Informed SLP shares reviews of the most relevant research articles. You can read the articles on your lunch break or listen in the car. I love that I don’t feel overwhelmed after I read an article and can digest the contents in friendly spans of time.

Use A Subscription That Will Help You Make Informed Clinical Decisions

The Informed SLP is now offering CEU courses that you can listen to in the car, on a walk, when you are cooking dinner or working out at the gym! You can also listen to the article reviews in the same fashion. This membership has helped build my clinical confidence and a big reason I am an affiliate for this subscription. Click the picture above and use the code: FELICE to get 20% off your yearly subscription (This 20% discount is only available for subscriptions).

Speech Therapy Websites with FREE and PAID Resources

8.  Teachers Pay Teachers – When I found this speech therapy resource, I was over the moon. It had FREE lessons and affordable therapy tools that I could literally buy and use within minutes of purchasing. When my district agreed to pay for my Super Duper orders, it took like 2-3 months to actually get the materials. Even if you don’t buy anything on the site, there are TONS of valuable FREE resources. Check out the ones in my store HERE

9. Easy Report Pro  – is an application that helps SLPs write speech reports that are error free (no more typos in your reports) and legally defensible in half the time. This will save you time and stress when doing assessment reports!

10. Chatted PD – if you are a school-based SLP looking for PD hours that are relevant to your setting, you need to join the Chatted PD membership. We provide SLP professional development that will boost your clinical skills and help you take action with supporting your students!

Bonus Speech Therapy Websites for Caseload Management

I know this post lists 10 speech therapy websites for SLPs, but it is hard to recommend just ten websites when there are so many helpful tools available on the Internet. If you are looking for some caseload management tools, I recommend trying SLPToolKit

SLPs that want to digitally have access to goals (you can save your goals or they have tools to help you create), have present level assessments and progress monitoring tools digitally, then this website subscription is for you!

Those of you that struggle with managing all the goals your students are working on may benefit from the Swivel Scheduler. It allows you to set-up your speech schedule with your students goals. Then, you can print your schedule each week and it will automatically “swivel” your students goals, so you know exactly what you need to plan and target in a session!

Need More Caseload Management Tips?

One way that I utilize speech therapy websites is by streamlining systems. The first week back at work is when I organize my SLP caseload.  When I worked full-time, I used my free speech therapy schedule Google Doc to keep my week organized, as well as having tools ready to go for progress monitoring during the school year. I am unsure if Google Drive is considered a website, but this has been a game changer for saving me time and re-inventing the wheel. Check out how my free speech referral Google Forms can help streamline your referral process.

Learn the best SLP subscriptions to help you work efficiently during the school year with your speech therapy caseload.

What Websites Have Helped You SLP?

I would love to know what speech therapy resources have been helpful for you. Please share any websites that you use on a regular basis in the comments or email me at fe*********@th*****************.com.
Behavior Management in Speech Therapy

Behavior Management in Speech Therapy

One thing that I felt my graduate program could have helped better prepare me for was teaching behavior management techniques for mixed groups. Anyone else struggle with how to create positive behavior routines in speech therapy sessions? I sure did when I first started out.  I got my feet wet during my field placements when I did group therapy (aka mixed group madness). But, my real education came when I was a CFY-SLP.

The SLP Struggle With Creating Behavior Routines In Speech

Between lesson planning for all the goals in the group, managing behaviors, and trying to take data, I felt very stressed in some of my groups. Doing all those things at once was really difficult. And some days, I didn’t know how to manage a behavior. Or I was so busy trying to manage behaviors, that I didn’t get to goals/lessons that I wanted to. Then, there are days when incorporating everyone’s goals in the lesson and keeping students engaged led me to completely forget to take data.

behavior routines in speech to create routines and expectations

Have you ever been there as an SLP? In my first few years, I focused on creating simple rules and expectations. I had a raffle prize box and the students could earn a jelly bean for not getting more than two reminders about behavior. This was the system my master clinician modeled for me. It worked well with keeping my groups in order as I managed a 75+ caseload. Many groups had 4-5 students, so I felt like I didn’t have time to mess around and needed tangible incentives for my students.

Why You Should Create Behavior Routines & Expectations In The Speech Room

Having behavior management techniques in your speech room increases students’ engagement, and improves participation with the lesson being taught. To be effective with implementing your therapy lesson, you need a plan containing strategies for being consistent with expectations. Furthermore, it is also important to foster a positive learning environment while minimizing unwanted behaviors.

Recommendations For How To Create A Positive Learning Environment

-Use simple rules and expectations that are consistently and fairly implemented.

-Make events and activities predictable by establishing routines. Set up cues and signals with students to let them know about transitions in the lesson and/or explain the content or length of the lesson.

-Provide frequent use of praise (non-verbal and verbal) that is specific and descriptive of the behavior being executed. For example, “Thank you, Desmond, for keeping your hands to yourself. That is very respectful.”

creating behavior routines in speech to maximize your therapy sessions. #dabblingslp #slpeeps #visualsupports #behaviormanagement #therapyideas #slps #schoolslp #speechtherapy

-Make adjustments and accommodations to help all students access the lesson and successfully engage in the content (this may mean shortening the assignment, creating visuals, or answering choices to help participation).

-Give opportunities to respond and participate in the activities and materials with all the children in the group/class.

For more research-based classroom management strategies, read this blog post with helpful tips to use with students.

Evidenced Based Practice For Using Visual Cues To Establish Behavior Routines

During a lesson, your students have to follow the set rules, transition to a new activity, and participate in the session. That can be overwhelming for our SLP friends. Some of our students struggle with following our complex directions. For example, Devon may remember to raise his hand to speak, but is constantly getting out of his chair during instruction. This causes a lot of distraction for you and the group. He knew the expectation to raise his hand to speak, but his body was struggling to follow the expectation that during reading time, we all have to sit in our chairs.

Create behavior routines using visual cues to support our students that struggle with processing language. #slpeeps #schoolslp #dabblingslp #slps #speechies #visualsupports #behaviormanagement

Research has shown that children who are exhibiting less problem behavior show bigger gains in language skills. So, teaching behavior expectations is very important for speech pathologists. If we can decrease the presence of unwanted behaviors, we will increase the opportunities for meaningful participations in the session.

Justice, L.M., Jiang, H., Logan, J.A., & Schmitt, M.B. (2017). Predictors of language gains among school-age children with language impairment in the public schools. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 1590–1605.

Our students on the Autism Spectrum process information better when given visual supports paired with verbal directions or expectations.

Visual supports are picture/written word cues that are paired with a verbal cue. This helps your student process information about the behavior routines, skill, or activity.  Visual supports you may use with your students could be: pictures, written words, objects, arrangement of the environment, visual boundaries, schedules, maps, labels, organization systems, timelines, and scripts.

Furthermore, visual supports meets the evidence-based practice criteria set by National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder with 18 single case design studies. You can learn more about this evidence-based practice HERE.

Ideas For Creating Behavior Routines In Speech

My best piece of advice that you can do to improve your behavior routines in speech is to have a plan. Know what your expectations are for students. You also need to know how you will respond when your students ARE doing the expected skill. (Or when they aren’t.)

I would also suggest following the school or classroom behavior management system. By using our own elaborate system, we could be confusing our students. Remember, the best practice is to be consistent! So, I have my own behavior routines for my small groups that I follow.

behavior routines in speech to keep kids focused and engaged with the therapy lesson.

But when my students need more support, I follow the behaviorist’s/teacher’s recommendations. For example, I have some students using “Working For” charts for “First/Then” charts. I don’t use those supports with my whole caseload. You can find some handy behavior visuals with these charts in my Behavior Visuals resource.

create behavior routines in speech to help student engagement and participation. #slpeeps #schoolslp #dabblingslp #speechtherapy #slps #slps2b

Because I have a large caseload and not always the time to visually write out my therapy lessons on the board, I use a generic therapy structure that I can reference every session. This allows me to change things up, but still follow a consistent, predictable routine.

Use Visual Supports to Reinforce Positive Behaviors

The other important tip is to have visual supports that break down the skills you want your students to use. During a book activity, you have to teach your students how to answer questions while you are reading the book, what their bodies should look like, and the voice volume they need to have while listening to the book.

creating behavior routines in speech using visual supports to help student's process information. #dabblingslp #slpeeps #schoolslp #visualsupports #behaviormanagement #preschoolslp #slps #speechtherapy #sped

I use my behavior visuals to teach expectations for transitions, playing a game, and doing a group activity. We even work on the expectations for classroom activities too.

creating behavior routines in speech to maximize your speech sessions. #dabblingslp #slpeeps #slps #schoolslp #speechies #speechtherapy

These behavior visuals have been really helpful for teaching the routines of my push-in lessons when students have to move to a new station.

I use the visual supports to reinforce skills that I am seeing such as, “Thanks, Thalia, for being respectful by raising your hand,” or, “I like how Juan is being safe, sitting in his chair.”

When I use the visual supports to share the positive things I am seeing, it naturally helps me ignore the unwanted behaviors. A long time ago, I used a speech reward system with raffle tickets, prize boxes, and earning a jelly bean for each session. It was a LOT to manage. The past few years, I made a goal to focus on teaching routines and making my lessons engaging. I got rid of my prize box about four years ago because it stressed me out, trying to keep it filled. You can hear more about why I got rid of my prize box on a facebook LIVE video I did HERE

creating behavior routines in speech therapy using visual supports. #dabblingslp #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #slps #visualsupports #behaviormanagement #behaviorsupports #classroommanagement #sped

I am happy to report that when you put the efforts into teaching behavior routines and bring in materials that motivate your students, the unwanted behaviors GO AWAY.

Share Your Behavior Management Strategies

What behavior strategies do you use in the therapy room? I would love to know the tools and resources that have been helping your students. Share in the comments or email me at fe*********@th*****************.com.


Social Language Assessments Don’t Have To Be Scary

Social Language Assessments Don’t Have To Be Scary

School based SLPs have to assess a LOT of different disorders across a large span of ages. During the course of my career, I have assessed students at the preschool level all the way to high school. Feeling confident with speech assessments in so many speech and language areas is overwhelming. Have you also noticed the increasing demands to add more assessments to your reports, so that they are legally defensible? That makes doing them extra scary. Because, one, I fear that I won’t have enough time. Secondly, I want to make sure I have covered all the areas of concern. Which takes more time. That I don’t always have. Today, I want to share about how SLPs can feel more confident when conducting social language assessments. I know they can feel scary, and time consuming. Knowing how to map out what you need can make doing them less intimidating.

Social language assessments don't have to be scary when you have resources and a plan for how to do them well!

Social Language Assessments May Not Be Your Strength

Let me just clarify this for anyone looking for time hacks and ways to make these assessment go quicker: social language assessments take a lot of time. End of story. The best practices I am going to share today are going to feel like more work. I know you are probably thinking, “Girl, I don’t have time for all this extra stuff.” And guess what, I know you don’t have time. Especially if your workload is out of control.

So, if you are not comfortable with social language assessments, and this info feels like a lot, just take it one step at a time. There are still areas in the field of social language assessment that I would love to feel more confident about, like apraxia assessments for example. I have never really had a student with suspected apraxia, so I would be looking to all you SLPs for help in this area. Even though I have gained an understanding for the framework for social language assessments, it still feels overwhelming at times.

Tips For Defeating Overwhelm When Doing Social Language Assessments

  1. Start planning out and doing your social language assessment early. Do not wait until the week before the IEP to start these assessments. Your stress will skyrocket and you will be scrambling for information that you need. Additionally, the chances that you forget valuable information will increase too.
  2. Pencil in when you are going to do different parts of the assessment in your calendar. If you have a 15 minute chunk of time, pencil in that you are going to observe that student in class. Or review the case history and/or call the parent for concerns they see at home. If it isn’t on your schedule, you will find something else to do.
  3. Ask for help. I rely on my SLP colleagues and the student’s teacher to help guide my assessment tools. When I have completely a large bulk of the assessment, I will consult with other SLPs about eligibility, goals and how to word observations in my report. Along with the assessment results, the student’s teachers and parents help me determine what goals would help impact the student the most in the classroom setting. With social language, there are so many skills to assess and work on. When there are too many to choose from, I struggle with nailing down what is impacting the student the most. That’s why I rely on my team’s expertise to help me feel confident with my assessment conclusions.

social language assessments

Tips For Feeling Confident With Your Assessment Findings

  1. Get familiar with understanding characteristics of social pragmatic deficits and characteristics of students with a diagnosis of Autism. This will help you when describing the specific deficits as well as the skills the student has.
  2. Know what is typical. When you have a “moment,” go into a general education classroom for the different ages and see what is typical for the developmental age group. Hang out at recess and lunch and see what typically developing students do with each other. This will help you know what to look for when assessing. If you don’t have that time, at lunch, sit in the staff room and ask your teachers to share what is typical for their students.
  3. Use your Student Study Team (SST) or gen ed RTI process to streamline these social language assessment referrals. I typically will attend all language-concern SST meetings. At those meetings, I will try to collect as much background information from the teacher and parent as possible. This is when I will have them fill out a background questionnaire, so I have it from day one. If you need more tips about my referral process, check out my blog post HERE.

What To Look For In Interviews With Parents & Teachers

In your background section, you want to include information about the child’s developmental milestones. You also want to include previous assessments conducted as well as any other pertinent information relevant to the child’s background. If you want more tips on what should be included in this section of your assessment, check out this blog post. Here are a few things to ask and look out for during these interviews:

-Reports of language regression after normal language onset. This is unique to Autism and not found among children with other developmental delays (Lord, Shulman, et. al. 2004).

-Listen for report with concerns with the child’s early developmental milestones.

-Listen for the child having strong interests and enjoying to talk about perseverative topics (only want to talk about trains with everyone). Furthermore, other red flags may also be the student exhibiting restricted interests (really likes penguins or only plays with cars).

What other red flags do you look and listen for when collecting parent interviews?

Speech & Language Areas To Cover In Your Assessment

Based on the background section, you will know the main areas of concern. The bulk of your assessments should be focused on the main areas of concern. It is best to document informal and/or formal assessment findings in all areas even if the team doesn’t express concern. For example, if the team has expressed concerns with having conversations with peers and understanding social language, your report should mostly be addressing the areas of concern. However, you still need to document skills observed with articulation, language, fluency, etc.

It is important to include standardized language and social pragmatic assessments in your testing, but equally important to do dynamic assessment. Furthermore, documenting observations of the child in natural settings demonstrates how the student is applying social pragmatic language in real life situations.

Assessing Receptive & Expressive Language Considerations

There are a lot of standardized assessments available to help you gather information about the student’s performance. Typically, I will do a language screener if I do not have concerns with vocabulary and grammar.  If receptive and expressive language abilities are a significant concern, then I do a full battery of tests in that area.

Pragmatic Language Assessment Tools

Here are some standardized assessments I have used to formally evaluate social pragmatic language understanding and use:

The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals – 5th Edition (CELF-5) has a Pragmatic Profile checklist that you can fill out with parents and teachers. It also has a Pragmatic Activities Checklist that provides the clinician with a criterion reference score. I prefer to do the Pragmatic Activities Checklist because you get to see how the student applies his/her language skills in real time social interactions. The Pragmatic Profile checklist has a lot of great descriptive information to help you narrow down the child’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Clinical Assessment of Spoken Language – 2nd Edition (CASL-2) has several subtests that look at figurative language in the areas of Inferences, Pragmatic Language, Meaning From Context, Nonliteral Language, and Double Meaning. These subtests can help you determine if the student struggles with using context clues to figure out the language meaning.

The Test Of Narrative Language – 2nd Edition (TNL -2) assesses how a student can comprehend a story and tell a story. Based on the results from this assessment it can tell me if they can shift perspective and explain the character’s thoughts, motives, and actions. It also allows me to evaluate how well the student can see the big picture of the story or if they lack important details about the story. When the student is missing big chunks of the story, this can also demonstrate how or why the student has weaknesses with following the main idea of a conversation.

Receptive, Expressive & Social Language Assessment – Elementary looks at understanding and expressive use of language in the areas of vocabulary and syntax. It also has a social language component that gives you good information and is relatively quickly to give. The RESCA – E has a social communication observation scale to help determine how the student is performing in naturalistic settings.

Standardized Social Language Assessments

Clinical Assessment of Pragmatics test battery is a video-based assessment tool that elicits responses from the student about real-life social situations. You can obtain information about what the student’s ability to pick up on perspective taking, non-verbal and verbal cues from these video based situations. I learned about this standardized measure at CSHA 2018. This year, I am using it with a few students.

There are a lot of assessment tools available for completing social language assessments.

You can download a free assessment report template for how to write up your findings in your report. For your students that may “know” the right answers for social situations, this assessment may be able to elicit the weaknesses with applying social pragmatic language in a real life context.

Social Language Development Test – Elementary measures the language needed to make inferences about how someone is thinking or feeling based on the social context. This assessment also measures how well the student can make multiple interpretations of situation, if they can take on the perspective of others in problem situations and negotiate and support their peers. There is also the Social Language Development Test – Adolescent for older students.

Test of Pragmatic Language – Second Edition is a standardized measure that evaluates social communication in context, telling you how well students listen, choose appropriate content, express feelings, make requests, and handle other aspects of pragmatic language. If you do have to use formal assessments, this one is great because it tests language skills up to the age of 18.

Informal Pragmatic Language Assessment Resources

Social Thinking has an informal assessment framework called the ILAUGH model. It provides a framework for how you can report informal assessments to explain the skills a student is or is not exhibiting. The following is the acronym for ILAUGH: Initiating communication, Listening with the eyes and brain, Abstracting and inferencing, Understanding perspective, Getting the big picture (gestalt), and Humor and human relationship.

One powerful informal assessment is completing the Double Interview that I learned about from the book by Social Thinking – Thinking About YOU, Thinking about ME. Using this method, you conduct an interview with the student and observe how they respond to your questions. Then, you let the student interview you and see what types of questions they ask and what social behaviors they exhibit. One time, I showed a picture of my dad and myself on my wedding day. The student thought he was my husband. The double interview helps with figuring out if students can use background knowledge/cues to make social inferences and so many more skills! You can get a free checklist to use while doing the double interview and sample questions to ask HERE.

To informally evaluate a child’s theory of mind, you can administer the Sally – Anne Test to see if the child can shift perspectives and has a strong theory of mind.

Classroom Observations of the Student

I would recommend that you perform at least two observations of the student during naturally occurring situations. I like to watch the student at recess or lunch. Another good time to watch the student is during a collaborative instruction time. Here are some other times when you can observe the student:

  • Structured vs. unstructured times
  • Desired vs. undesired activities
  • Adult-directed vs. student-directed
  • Easy vs. difficult activities
  • Familiar vs. unfamiliar
  • In small groups, large groups
  • With family and peers

Here are some things to look for when observing the student

  • Use of eye contact (be mindful of the student’s cultural background and customs)
  • Topic maintenance and conversation
  • Language flexibility (understanding non-literal language)
  • Gestures and non-verbal language
  • Prosodic differences
  • Stereotyped, perseverative speech and echolalia
  • Ability to initiate, and close a conversation

If you are short on time and can’t observe the child. I recommend getting feedback of observations that the teacher is seeing in the classroom. Furthermore, I would also rely on the parent’s observations at home. That said, it I highly recommend doing observations of the student in a natural environment. You are the clinician that can determine the child’s social pragmatic understanding and use.

Social Pragmatic Checklists To Help You Identify Presence Of Skills

There is a checklist on the RESCA -E and the CELF – 5. Another comprehensive checklist to look into is the The Social Skills Checklist (Quill 2000).

If you are conducting social language assessments for minimally verbal students, I highly recommend using The Communication Matrix to informally assess the student’s functional communication. What checklists have been helpful for you to determine presence of skills?

What Assessment Tools & Resources Do You Use For Your Social Language Assessments?

I would love to hear about your expertise in conducting social language assessments. Share below resources that you have found helpful! I would love to know how you streamline your social language assessments too.