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When to Participate in a Bilingual Speech Evaluation

Bilingual populations are growing as more and more families realize the benefits of being bilingual. While all speech therapists have been educated to work with a bilingual child, at All Care we have bilingual speech therapists who are accessible for families who speak Spanish.

When you are scheduled for an initial evaluation, you will be asked if your child speaks or is exposed to any other languages. If the answer is yes, and the language that they are exposed to is Spanish you will be placed with a bilingual therapist for your initial evaluation.

Many parents report that their child does not speak any Spanish, however, Spanish is spoken in the home. In this case you may wonder why the child needs a bilingual evaluation.

Why is it important to receive a bilingual evaluation?

There are two parts of language, expressive and receptive. Expressive language is what is spoken or communicated to others (i.e. when your child speaks to others), while receptive language is what is understood (i.e. when others speak to your child). So while your child may not expressively communicate in Spanish, they may receptively understand it, especially if Spanish is spoken in the home regularly.

When we assess a child for a language disorder we look at both expressive and receptive language. Since Spanish is the 2nd most common language spoken in America, we have specific evaluations for Spanish speaking children. In these assessments we look at what the child can communicate and understand in both English and Spanish. If Spanish is regularly spoken in the home and we only assessed English, your child may show increased difficulty understanding some English, however, when presented with the same information in Spanish would understand.

Bilingual therapists are able to administer and communicate in both languages and therefore are able to more accurately understand the whole picture of your child’s communication.

What if a bilingual child is unable to receive a bilingual evaluation?

If your child is bilingual or exposed to multiple languages and a bilingual therapist is not available don’t worry! Speech therapists are educated during schooling to treat and evaluate a child who is bilingual. Here at All Care we have evaluated patients who are exposed to or speak Hindi, Telugu, Spanish, French, German, Polish and more! We are still able to provide therapy to your child, it will just be in English. As we do not have any evaluations that are specific to any languages besides English and Spanish, evaluations will be completed in English and a note will be made that the child is bilingual or exposed to multiple languages in the home and results of assessment may be affected by their bilingualism. When a child is exposed to multiple languages, clinicians take into consideration what parents see at home along with results of the assessment. This way we can accurately understand the areas of concern in both languages!

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