Ingredients for a Neurodiversity Affirming Speech Therapy Assessment

Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast – Episode 24

by Adina Levy

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In this episode, I’m sharing with you the ingredients that go into a Neurodiversity Affirming speech therapy assessment.
We’ll talk about my framework ‘CPIE’ — Child, Partner, Interaction, Environment — and how it frames our approach to understanding the communication skills of Autistic children within the context of their relationships & worlds.
Whether you’re a speech therapist, educator, parent, or caregiver, you’ll gain insights on the importance of seeing beyond the child’s immediate abilities and considering their functional opportunities, important relationships, and environmental impacts. Discover why Neurodiversity Affirming, holistic assessments are vital, and how it can strengthen the support we provide to Autistic children and to the other people in their lives.
Register for my totally FREE webinar for Speechies: Turning Affirming – for Speech Therapists Supporting Autistic Children – It’s available on-demand, any time you are! Register today for the 30 minute webinar and I’ll send you the link to watch: https://playlearnchat.com/free-speechie-webinar/
The Affirming Communication for Autistic Children Course is open to the waitlist right now! And opens officially for registration between 21st Nov – 30th Nov 2023. This is the last time the doors will be open this year! Learn more and join or join the waitlist here: https://playlearnchat.com/acac-course/






Welcome to the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast. I’m Adina Levy from Play. Learn. Chat. I’m a neurodivergent speech therapist. And I’m obsessed with creating a world where neurodiversity is understood, embraced, supported, and celebrated.
Join me as we have conversations about autistic, ADHD, neurodivergent experiences, and I share how you can support neurodivergent children in your world.
Let’s all work together to make change where change is needed so that the world can be a more friendly place for neurodivergent people and for everyone.
Today I am so excited to share with you the ingredients that go into a neurodiversity affirming speech therapy assessment, and we’ll be talking about pie. So if you’re feeling a little bit confused, don’t worry, I will help you sort it out by the end of this short episode.
And before we dig in… The secret sneaky backdoor entry to my Affirming Communication for Autistic Children course, which is for speech therapists, is now open. So if you are on my waitlist, at the time of this episode coming out, you should have already got a super secret special bonus invite if you’ve been on the course waitlist. If you’re not yet on the waitlist and you are a speech therapist looking to understand more about what goals and strategies and activities are aligned with the neurodiversity affirming approach to supporting your autistic clients or students, and you want a boost in your confidence, some clear guidelines and guidance, and tools and research backed information.
I hope so much that you will join me in the course. So the best thing you could do right now, if you’re listening and it’s the middle of November 2023, is… Head over to playlearnchat. com slash ACAC hyphen course .
And you are also very much invited and welcome to join my free webinar for speechies called Turning Affirming for Speech Therapists Supporting Autistic Children. That’s where you can head to get a bit more of an idea about how I teach and what I teach. stepping outside from these short form podcast episodes.
For the free webinar, head to playlearnchat. com slash free hyphen speechie hyphen webinar. If you can’t recall it right now, no worries, I’m going to pop all of the links that you need in the show notes so you can head there very easily.
Now the model that I’m sharing today about what goes into an affirming assessment for an autistic child is a model that I’ve developed and used called CPIE and it’s something that I teach in a lot more depth in the Affirming Communication for Autistic Children course.
So I know you’re hanging at the edge of your seat, thinking, what on earth is CPIE? I think it’s time for us to break this down and build it back up again. CPIE is an acronym that helps me and other speech therapists that I’ve taught and mentored, to make sure that when we’re doing an assessment for an autistic child autistic child, we are seeing the whole picture. We are seeing this child within their world, within their environment, within the context of the relationships that are important to them.
CPIE is C P I E and C stands for Child. P stands for partner, I stands for the interaction, and E stands for the environment.
I do also have a visual that goes along with this, so again check the show notes where you can find that. I’ll try and describe it. I’ll paint a word picture for you. So imagine a smiley face. That smiley face is made up of a big circle and that is labelled E for environment. That’s the outside of our visual model.
Then we have two big eyes and I’m talking about E Y E S, not the letter I here. One of the eyes is labelled child and one of the eyes is labelled partner, meaning their communication partner, the people that they interact with in their daily life.
And then we have a big smile connecting up the child and partner points, but actually it’s kind of a curvy arrow pointing between child and partner. That is interaction. That smiley arrow is what represents that relationship and that connection between the two communication partners, the child and the other person who they’re communicating with.
So if you need to see it, head into the show notes and I’ll have a link there where you can see what CPIE looks like.
Now here’s why I think it’s so important Whether we’re doing an assessment for an autistic child or for any individual, it’s so important that we’re taking into account this person as a human in their world. We need to be considering: What are their functional opportunities? What are their important relationships? And what’s the impact of the world around them?
And without that we can’t possibly get a whole comprehensive picture of their communication strengths, challenges, needs, and the goals coming from that.
What I’ve seen throughout my speech therapy career, and in mentoring other speech therapists has been that too often therapists zoom in only on the child’s skills and abilities and challenges in isolation. What they’re seeing in that moment of assessment. And often in isolated assessment type tasks, that don’t have much bearing on the child’s real life.
If you’re a speech therapist and this is you and this is the way that you currently do assessments I hope that you take this as a little nudge to think bigger, think outside the child when you’re doing your assessments. My aim is very much to support growth and change. Many of us through university, through our clinical placements, through our work settings, we haven’t been encouraged to think bigger, to think about a child within their world. And that’s a huge shame, but here we are, making a shift, if that is a shift for you, and broadening our view of what needs to go into an assessment.
In my course for speeches, I go into a lot more detail about what are all the components that you are looking for when you are assessing a child, when you are assessing the parent or carer. So I won’t go into them in depth now because I think that’s something that’s really important for us to talk about when we have more time and space together in that course.
One thing that I do want to go into a little bit further is, what does it mean when we’re assessing P, the partner, the communication partner, which is very often the parent or primary carer for this child.
What I mean by assessing the communication partner is often an informal way of getting to know the skills and abilities and interests, knowledge, beliefs, values, expectations of that communication partner, perhaps that parent or carer.
The younger the child is that you’re working with, the more important that this piece is in your assessment. However, even for an older child, a teen, and really anyone, we still need to be gathering an understanding of who are their main supports in their life and the skills that they come with, the challenges, the beliefs, the values. All of that is so important.
When you understand a parent or caregiver’s beliefs around autism, for example, where those beliefs and values have come from, and where they’re feeling pressure, where they’re feeling worried, what their hopes and dreams are for the child. The more you can gather and understand about those aspects, The stronger relationship you’re going to have with that parent or caregiver, and therefore your support for that child and family is going to be strengthened. Because you can target how you’re working with that child and family, how you’re communicating with them, to be aligned with what that parent or caregiver needs most from you in that moment.
Often it can take time for you to gather this information and to build the relationship and trust with the client and student and with their family or parents or caregivers and even the other people in their support team. Those relationships can take time so you may not get all of this information straight away and that’s okay.
Whoever you are in the lives of autistic children, I hope that you’ll take this idea into your next steps when you are facing an assessment.
If you’re a parent or carer of an autistic child, and you’ve got an assessment coming up, you might use this CPIE acronym to advocate for that service provider to be finding out about the factors that relate to you as the communication partner, to the I, the interaction between you and your child, and to the environmental impact on your child.
If you’re a speech therapist, a therapist, a teacher, or anyone in a professional capacity supporting autistic children, I hope that you’re going to be zooming out and understanding this child’s skills and abilities, not just as an isolated moment in time, in response to specific tasks that you ask of them.
I hope that you’ll be looking at a holistic view, that is meaningful and functional and takes into account all the important relationships and contexts for that child’s life.
So speechies, please join me for the Turning Affirming free webinar and join my waitlist for the Affirming Communication for Autistic Children course. All the links you need will be in the show notes. And I can’t wait to see you there.
If you found this episode helpful, please share it with a friend and join me on Instagram and Facebook. I’m @play.learn.chat
that’s Play.Learn.Chat, you’ll find all the links that we discussed in the show notes. Have a fabulous day.  

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