As school based SLPs, we encounter students with a wide range of abilities. We are constantly assessing students (formally and informally) both in and out of our speech rooms. We use our professional judgement and training to determine whether students have a need for our services and we help support their academics as much as possible. Through this process it is so important for us to NEVER say, "I think ______ (insert student's name has _________ (insert diagnosis).
Allow me to elaborate.
The main problem I see with this statement is the uncertainty of using "I think..." First, we are professionals with an abundance of training and knowledge. If we are formally making a diagnosis related to speech-language (which many of us do not do in the school setting), we should not be using words such as "I think..." because they make it sound like we are not sure in our findings. We spend hours collecting data and making determinations. We should present our findings with confidence and choose our wording carefully.
It is also worth mentioning that in many districts, SLPs don't make formal diagnoses. In my district, I use my evaluation data to determine whether or not a student meets eligibility criteria as a student with a speech-language impairment, but I do not diagnose specific disorders myself.
Another possible problem with this statement is that it is sometimes used out of the proper context. We have all had those situations when we are at the park, visiting with friends, etc. and meet a child who we really think could benefit from speech therapy. Our ears are constantly listening and informally analyzing the speech-language of children we encounter. It's just hard to turn off. In these situations, it is so important to make sure that we are not throwing out statements such as, "I think your child has autism/apraxia/etc.' without a proper evaluation. We need to be very careful using statements that sound like we are diagnosing or making recommendations when we don't have data to support our statements.
It is so important to be thoughtful in the words we use when talking to parents/teachers about their children. To read some more on this topic, be sure to click over to the linkup and check out the other posts. There are some great ones! Thanks again to The Frenzied SLPs for a great topic of discussion and to Doyle Speech Works for hosting the linkup!