Today, The Frenzied SLPs are bringing you a series of blog posts on.... drumroll, please....
Speech and Language screening tools!
As you all probably know, I'm an early childhood therapist. In my district, we hold screenings one Friday a month, where parents in the community can sign their child up for a screening in all developmental areas: fine motor, gross motor, social skills, cognitive skills, and speech/language skills. Our ECSE teachers and therapists all participate in the screenings. We used to use our own forms that we created, but to make it more streamlined, we're now using the DIAL-4 screening tool for all developmental areas. Truthfully, it's not my favorite (like, at all), but it was the best tool out of the ones we looked at, as far as what was covered in the speech/language portions. In a nutshell, I just don't feel like it has a high enough sensitivity, especially since it combines articulation and language, so if a kid has great articulation skills but poor language skills, he may still come out average because the artic portion inflated his score.
You're not here, though, for my opinion of the DIAL-4-- you're here because hopefully I'll have a freebie screening tool of sorts that you can utilize yourself, right?. Good news: I'm going to share with you the informal screener I used during my first 3 years in preschool!
It includes stimulus pictures for labeling actions, objects, and object functions, as well as for identifying/explaining associations. Also included are WH questions, where you can laminate the page if so desired, and have them stamp the circle, color in the circle, place a chip in the circle, etc... after they answer the question. Depending on how your screening is set up, you may not have time for them to color in a circle, or depending on the kiddo, they might need that extrinsic motivator to get through it! ;-)
I don't use all of the stimulus pictures for every kid-- it just depends on their age. For example, for expressive language with a new 3 year old, I may just do labeling of objects/actions/functions, and do the "what" and "where" questions, and leave out the associations and the rest of the /who, when, why/ WH questions. Sometimes you can get what you need from just playing and taking a language sample, and you may not even need the stimulus pictures!
At the time I was using this screener, the PreK teachers checked basic concepts with their screening tool (and still do with the DIAL, as concepts are included in the cognitive portion that I don't administer), so that's why I don't have it included in mine. However, another awesome FREE resource that does include basic concepts is Busy Bee Speech's "Preschool Quick Probes." I use these all the time for informal assessment for IEPs!
How do you do PreK screenings? Do you have a monthly date set up with the whole team, or do you just set up appointments as you get requests from parents in the community? It's done very differently in my district here in Kansas than it was in my district in Ohio when I was in grad school doing my school practicum, so I'm always curious to hear how other places are performing preschool screenings. Drop me a line and let me know!
Be sure to check out the other SLPs below who are sharing what they use for speech/language screeners, as well!