I’m always amazed by all I learn about a child while testing them that isn’t reflected in the results. Many times I end up telling parents more from my observations about HOW their child responded to the test items than WHAT they actually answered to receive their score. We speech therapists gain information on attention, how a child asks for clarity, their conversation interspersed between test items, often related to the topics talked about, and their processing, word-finding, and production.

Recently I was asked to test a 5 year-old boy whose mom said there was something not right–her son couldn’t explain himself clearly and his peers were starting to lose interest in playing with him when they couldn’t understand what he was talking about.  Ironically, his teacher and other professionals working with him didn’t see any “red flags” and wouldn’t have referred him.  When I arrived at his house, before giving him the CASL, we had a nice conversation about superheroes and I told him about giving an Iron Man figure to my grandson, just like his. As we proceeded in the test, my little friend looked up at me and said,

“Do you know a girl who used to do this?”


“Iron Man.”

“Did he used to do this?

(He was asking me, “Did your grandson take this test?”)

Later as my little friend was finding some of the items hard, he said to me, “Did your daughter do this wrong?” (Did your grandson get this wrong?)

I realized that taking down a language sample of his conversation would be just as helpful if not more than the results of a standardized test. It affirmed to Mom that what she had described was indeed happening, and helped to describe his difficulty forming his ideas to other professionals working with him.

It’s so important to transcribe what a child says in the context of play, conversation, and even testing to add key information for diagnosing and treating a child.