When we started all of this Ava had too little speech to give her any kind of formal articulation assessment. You can't ask an essentially nonverbal child to label pictures in a book so that you can score how well they did making sounds. Now that Ava has so many words her early intervention therapist and I decided to give her an articulation test to see where she is.
The Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation 2 is very simple in concept. It is a book of pictures. Your child labels the pictures and the Speech-Language Pathologist transcribes how your child pronounces each word exactly as your child says it. The test is designed so that after all of the pictures have been pronounced your child has attempted to pronounce every consonant sound (and some blends) in every position (beginning, middle, end) of words in which they appear in the English language.
We gave the test to Ava. It took us two sessions. There are a lot of words on the test and it is hard to get a two year old to focus. She did better than I expected. She got sounds on the test that she doesn't usually get in regular conversation. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.
Then I scored the test. She got a standard score of 72. That's equivalent to the 7th percentile. That means that 93% of children her age perform better than her on this test. Wow! Seeing that number was a huge reality check for me.
I've been so focused on all the improvements. She's made amazing progress since we started getting her help. She had no words. Now she had more than I can count. She went from one-word utterances to two and three-word phrases. Now we are frequently hearing four and five-word sentences. She was a pretty silent toddler who wasn't even trying to talk any more - a toddler who had to resort to gestures and pulling me around to ask for what she wanted. Now she talks all the time. She communicates with her parents, grandparents, brother, teachers, and friends. She even talks to herself. She tries to sing and hum. I was proud. I was excited.
Now, with this new number (7th percentile!) I am sad and discouraged again. I know that this new information takes nothing away from all of her accomplishments. I do know that. I know that this new information is a valuable reality check. It gives me information I can use to go forward and plan our next steps. As a speech-pathologist the test results are interesting, valuable, and even a little exciting. As Ava's Mama, those test results make me sad. They are a reminder of her struggle and the long road that is still ahead of us. Reality really stinks sometimes.