If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, ask your pediatrician for a referral for a hearing test. You may then self-refer to a Speech-Language Pathologist for a complete assessment.
If your child is under the age of 5, he may qualify for a limited amount of public services. These services work in blocks of 6-8 sessions with a break for a few months and then another 6-8 sessions if the child is still eligible.
Many families also seek help from a private Speech-Language Pathologist while the child is on the waitlist for such services as the wait times range from 4-12 months long. A private SLP may collaborate with the SLP in the public sector to ensure consistency of therapy goals. Although private therapy is not covered by OHIP, it may be partially covered under extended health care plans.
Whatever route you choose, keep in mind that the critical period for language development is under the age of 5 and particularly under the age of 3. In other words, early intervention is key.
Below is a checklist to see if your child is meeting his/her speech and language milestones.
Speech and Language Milestones
Make cooing sounds (ah-ee-oo)
Imitate cough & some sounds (ex.buh)
Turn head toward a sound
Respond to name
Babble (ex. bababa, dadada)
Gesture to indicate wants or needs(ex. reaches up)
Say first words
Look to where you are pointing
Combine sounds (ex. abada)
Follow one-step directions
Use 10-20 words
Imitate new words and gestures
Point to body parts
Point to pictures in books when asked
Understand ‘in/out’, ‘on/off’
Can pretend play with toys (ex. give teddy a drink)
Enjoy reading books together
Make at least 4 different sounds (p,b,m,n,d,h,w)
Say 100-150 words
Speech is clear 50-60% of the time
Combine words in to 2-word phrases
Follow 2-step directions
Use 5-8 word sentences
Tell simple stories
Speech is clear over 75% of the time
Understand simple questions
Follow 2-3 step directions
Speech is 100% clear
Use adult-like grammar
Can make simple rhymes (cat-hat)
Follow 3-step directions
Speak in long, complete sentences
Ask ‘why’, ‘who’ and ‘how come’
Tell and retell detailed stories
Understand long verbal directions