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In this second module, Cate reviews the critical questions that should be asked of the parent during an evaluation and begins the first part of the interview with Alex’s mother. As evaluators, we should look to the parent in these interviews as the expert in their child’s development, over time and in various contexts, to give us critical information leading to a differential diagnosis.

Research has demonstrated that parent’s provide crucial information regarding their children in distinguishing a disability versus a difference. In this video, Cate reviews the critical questions that should be asked of the parent during an evaluation and begins the interview with Alex’s mother. She reviews family educational level (indicator of socioeconomic status) as well as gets a detailed language history,  including what languages Alex and his family members have been exposed to. Cate also reviews milestones in Alex’s receptive and expressive language development such as first words, utterances, responses, and manner of following directions. Then she gathers information regarding any family history of speech/language and learning disorders, as there are frequently genetic components. However, it’s important to note that especially with bilingual and diverse individuals, there is a high rate of false positives (i.e. individuals misdiagnosed with a disability). She also asks about any recent changes (within the last 6 months) in the family structure that may significantly affect the child’s performance in the evaluation or overall development. Information regarding the child’s current educational environment and any supports he receives is also an important factor to discuss. One of the most important critical questions is the parent’s impression of the child’s language development compared to typical peers (or siblings at that age). Research has demonstrated this to be one of the most effective pieces of information in determining disability (Restrepo, 1998). Research has also demonstrated another important critical question, asking if the child is perceived as clumsy (Goffman, 2010). Children with SLI also tend to have low average motor skills. Towards the end of the video, Cate indicates where all of this information should go in an evaluation.  The parent interview continues in the next module.

Please find related materials here:

Critical Questions Document

Critical Questions in Spanish Document

Identifiers of Predominantly Spanish-Speaking Children with Language Impairment

Speech and Language Milestones 

Find the playlist for the full set of videos in this module series here: 

Differential Diagnosis in Preschool Evaluations: A Case Study (DDPE Playlist)

Find each of the modules from this playlist here:

Module 1: Why an Accurate Differential Diagnosis Matters

Module 2: Critical Questions for the Parent Interview Part 1

Module 3: Critical Questions for the Parent Interview Part 2

Module 4: Academic Language Expressive and Receptive Language

Module 5: Receptive Language Comprehension and Following Directions

Module 6: Eliciting Quality Narratives in Expressive Language

Module 7: Motor Speech, Articulation, and Speech Sound Inventory

Module 8: Dynamic Assessment: Nonword Repetition, Syllable and Sentence Repetition

Module 9: Putting it All Together in the Written Evaluation Report

Module 10: Developing Appropriate Goals for the IEP

Please find research mentioned in this module here:

Dale, P. (1996). Parent report assessment of language and communication. In K. Cole, P. Dale, & D. Thal (Eds.), Assessment of Communication and Language: Vol. 6, Communication and Language Intervention Series (pp. 161-182). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

DiDonato Brumbach, A. C., & Goffman, L. (2014). Interaction of language processing and motor skill in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57(1), 158-171.

Gopnik, M. (1997). Language deficits and genetic factors. Trends in Cognitive Science, 1(1), 5-9.

Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (2003). The early catastrophe: The 30 million word gap. American Educator, 27(1), 4-9.

Restrepo, M. A. (1998). Identifiers of predominantly Spanish-speaking children with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 1398-1411.

Zelaznik, H. N., & Goffman, L. (2010). Motor abilities and timing behavior in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53(2), 383-93.