Speech Therapy Assessment

Today Zachary had his speech therapy assessment with an independent Speech and Language Therapist named Gill.

We had decided to see an independent therapist after we were invited to a Parent Empowerment session by the NHS Speech Therapists and felt that the ‘invitation’ itself was rather patronising – a two-hour session with no children allowed and they would only see Zachary for therapy sessions based on what I told them, not them assessing him themselves.

I contacted Gill through her website and she was able to offer me an appointment within a week and coming to our home to assess Zachary.

Paul had taken Abigail with him to Jake’s tennis lesson and as Kyla was upstairs, it meant that I could talk to Gill about Zachary and she could assess him without too many interruptions and distractions.

Gill took the usual history of Zachary – pregnancy, birth, illnesses, problems etc. Then we moved on to what is going on and what he can and can’t do etc.

Once a history and background had been taken it was time to assess exactly where Zachary is at with his speech and development.

Gill had brought a range of various toys with her and got down to play with Zachary.

First of all she had some stacking cups. Gill sat stacking the cups, with Zachary watching, and then let Zachary stack them. She was looking out for a number of things – how well he understands, does he get frustrated if he can’t do it and does he ask for help.

Zachary picked up the stacking cups fairly quickly. He didn’t get frustrated when trying to stack bigger cups on top of smaller cups – instead he looked at Gill, which was him asking for help.

Another game they played to gauge his understanding of objects was a lift out puzzle game. Gill wanted to see if he could repeat any of the objects and whether or not he could grasp where they needed to go. Again, Zachary was ready to play and knew straight away that the puzzle pieces went in to the holes. Gill would show him each piece and say the object. He said his own version of “teddy bear” and when she showed him a tea-cup, he made a pouring action, and similar with the phone, he put his hand to his ear as if he was talking on the phone.

It was quickly established that Zachary was and in fact has been signing to us, without us intentionally realising! I didn’t think much of it when he comes to me, looks to the kitchen, looks at me and then points so I follow him – but that is in fact a 3 step communication method.

Gill advised that as he has already established his own signing method, that he was a great candidate to start using sign and so she taught me a few simple Makaton words as we are going to start using this with Zachary to encourage him to communicate with us.

From then on, Gill was using Makaton when she spoke to him. She played a game of bubbles with him which he thoroughly enjoyed. She would blow some bubbles (making the sign of bubbles to him), he would the laugh hysterically whilst chasing them around. She would then put the lid on and wait for Zachary to ask for more – and when he looked at her for more she made the Makaton sign for more whilst saying the word. Gill showed Zachary this sign twice and then he did it straight away when he wanted her to blow more bubbles.

He did his usual screeching, and Gill very quickly picked up on that sometimes he does it for no reason. She believes that this is a sensory issue and that he could be doing just because he likes the vibration it makes in his throat. She also mentioned that teeth grinding is a sensory sign – which he does also! She encourage deep pressure cuddles when he screeches to reassure him. These are methods which are used with autistic children, but she reassured us that Zachary doesn’t have signs of autism – although to us, already having one child with special needs isn’t a big deal if he was.

Zachary is so desperate and eager to communicate, but just cannot seem to get the words out – which we think may be linked to his hypermobility, so we are going back to the doctors to push for a hospital referral to get a full development check.

I am so glad that we had the assessment done. We know that Zachary is an intelligent boy and has great understanding, and his frustration is because he is non verbal, but he will talk one day – that we are certain of. Hopefully we can now learn Makaton and teach him so he can communicate with us until his words come.




  1. June 28, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    Glad you are making progress – and that you had the assessment done, sounds very positive. Zachary sounds very clever and I am sure he will progress quickly. Good luck learning more Makaton. x x

    • June 28, 2014 / 6:26 pm

      Thank you! It is the first time that I have come away from an appointment feeling positive that we ARE doing the right things for him and that there are things to help him

  2. June 28, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    Oh what a positive session!

    Harry was referred to speech therapy months ago by his nursery and we still haven’t heard anything. I am seriously considering an independent consultation. So pleased it went well for you. x

    • June 28, 2014 / 6:29 pm

      It’s utterly ridiculous how long they make you wait for appointments. This was well worth the money. I was so pleased with her and at least now I know how I can help!

  3. June 28, 2014 / 6:36 pm

    So glad the assessment was so useful. Zachary is a clever boy 🙂

    • June 28, 2014 / 6:42 pm

      Thank you! So pleased that someone finally listened and was willing to help us help him! x

  4. June 28, 2014 / 8:59 pm

    Sounds like some useful learnings, and it was worth going privately. Would the NHS not see him because of his age? We were told (for tongue tie check) that they prefered to wait until 3 to check clarity etc, but once we were referred last August, it took til January because of the rubbish waiting time in Oxfordshire. If I’d realised and we’d gone to Warwickshire (we’re on the border), we’d have got a much quicker one- probably within 3 weeks.

    • June 28, 2014 / 9:05 pm

      It was definitely worth the money. The NHS would see him, but before you get to see a Speech Therapist you need to attend a patronising Parent Empowerment group session for 2hrs where they then give him points (without seeing him as its no kids allowed) based on things he cannot do. Only then do they decide whether or not he actually goes on to have an individual session….which could take anything up to a year to get an appointment for. x

  5. June 28, 2014 / 9:46 pm

    It’s great that he can communicate at least part in his own way and that you now can use sign to help him express himself. It sounds like a a really worthwhile appointment x

  6. June 28, 2014 / 10:51 pm

    I’m so happy for you xx
    Having been through the speech thing with J years ago xx
    It’s a long road but you are on your way

  7. June 29, 2014 / 7:18 am

    My son also has sensory issues and struggles with communication although with a lot of input he’s coping much better. We had to go private after the NHS told us his hearing and speech were “normal” but I knew things weren’t right. Turns out he had hearing loss and chronic ear infections, which have caused a lot of his issues. I also have some sensory processing issues so we don’t know if he will be like me or gradually grow out of things.
    Anyway, sorry, rambling. Speech therapy, Makaton and some techniques to help him cope have done wonders. I am sure they will help Zachary. I’m glad you got good help.