Evaluation for a Deaf Child with Autism

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Hi, Carrie!

Since joining your crew, I’ve gotten so much invaluable advice and I’m finally in need of my own! I am a public high school SLP and a student in my district is deaf and diagnosed with autism. He’s not on my caseload yet so I don’t have tons of info about him, but I’m being asked to do his re-eval since I’ll be getting him next year for ninth grade.

His main mode of communication is through sign language and he definitely gets his needs met via signed English/ASL hybrid. Other than that he has many “classic” autism characteristics such as hand flapping, lack of social initiation/desire, etc. His signing is echolalic at times and he struggles significantly with anything that isn’t concrete… Or so I’ve been told.

I’m thinking the evaluation will be a heavy mix of informal/functional assessments (observations, interviews, language samples..) as well as some formal assessments that would be presented via an interpreter. Do you have any recommendations for specific formal or informal tests? I’m thinking the CELF-5/OWLS-II and either the E/ROWPVT-4 or EVT/PPVT, at the least. I think the one word type vocab test would at least allow me to get a picture of his signing single word knowledge.

The parents are specifically interested in nonverbal tests. While I’m familiar with nonverbal IQ tests, I haven’t heard of any similar language tests. He can read (not sure at what level).


Tests to Consider:

  • “Nonverbal” Tests: (Look for receptive language tests)
  • ROWPVT-4 or Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test would allow him to point at things that you name (nonverbal)
  • EOWPVT-4 or EVT would allow you to see what signs he knows
  • CELF 5 has a receptive language section
  • OWLS has a writing component which he’s probably not doing

Informal Measures:

  • Use some sort of a communication matrix to determine what types of spontaneous communicative intents the child is using (like requesting, commenting, etc.) and what type of communication he’s using to do those things (gestures, signs, etc.)

I like this one:


  • Look for inappropriate behaviors and what those are trying to communicate
  • Look at receptive language and pragmatics in natural environment (does the child respond to questions/directions, interact with others?)

Things to Consider:

  • Check in manuals to see if the tests allow for it to be given in sign language/with an interpreter.  If not, you can still give the test but you can’t report the standard scores