If your child is having difficulty communicating, verbalizing, or comprehending conversations, they may benefit from Speech Language Pathology (SLP). Speech language pathology – also referred to as “speech therapy” – helps your child overcome speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders.
What is Speech Language Pathology?
You may find it surprising that over 440,000 Canadians have disabilities that affect their speech, and every year, nearly 1 in 1,000 babies in Ontario are born deaf or hard of hearing. Speech Language Pathology help prevent and treat communication, speech, and swallowing disorders. These healthcare professionals also provide education, training, and counselling for patients and their family members.
Signs That Your Child May Need Speech Therapy
Your child may need speech therapy if they suffer from one, or several of the disorders listed below:
- Cognitive (intellectual, thinking) or developmental delays
- Articulation problems
- Weak oral muscles
- Birth defects such as a cleft lip or cleft palate
- Feeding or swallowing disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
- Chronic hoarseness
- Motor planning problems
- Hearing impairments
How Speech Language Pathologists Can Help
Speech Language Pathologists help children with speech and language disorders. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the production of sounds, while language disorders refer to the difficulty of understanding or putting words together to form ideas.
Common Speech Disorders
- Articulation and phonological disorders: trouble pronouncing sounds and syllables that make it difficult for the listener to understand what is being said.
- Resonance or voice disorders: difficulty with pitch, volume, or the quality of the voice which will often distract the listener from what is being said.
- Fluency disorders: stuttering and the repetition of sounds, words, and syllables. Secondary behaviours may include hesitations to speak and motor movements associated with stuttering (such as eye blinking and loss of eye contact).
Common Language Disorders
- Receptive disorders: difficulty understanding oral language.
- Expressive language disorders: difficulty with expressing oneself through speech. A child with expressive language disorder may have a limited vocabulary, the inability to put words together, or the inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.
- Cognitive-communication disorders: problems with memory, attention, perception, organization, and problem solving that affects a child’s communications skills.
A speech language pathologist may also help children with dysphagia, or feeding disorders that hinders a child’s ability to eat or drink. These include problems with chewing, swallowing, coughing, and gagging.
Publicly Funded Options for Speech Therapy Related Services
Depending on your child’s condition, there are publicly funded options to help cover the cost of services related to speech and language disorders:
- Get a screening to detect hearing loss as early as possible by contacting your local Infant Hearing Program.
- Contact your local Preschool Speech and Language Program for a free assessment. The program is free of charge and doesn’t require a doctors referral.
- The Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) provide School Health Support Services for children in both public and private schools, as well as children that are home-schooled. One of these health support services is speech language pathology, and is completely free of cost. For more details, you can read through the eligibility criteria and guidelines (an example provided by the South East LHIN).
- Assistive Devices Program (e.g. hearing aid coverage).
Private Pay Options for Speech Therapy Related Services
In addition to the publicly funded options for speech therapy, you always have the option to pay privately for additional help.
You can find a speech language pathologist by entering your postal code and selecting the type of practice (e.g. speech language pathologist) on the Find a Practitioner page on the Ontario Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) website.
Hiring a speech language pathologist on your own typically costs $100-$200 depending on the length of the session, and if the session is one-on-one or in a group. Here is the OSLAs Recommended Fee Schedule for speech language pathology services in Ontario.
You can also hire a speech language pathologist directly through an agency/organization. This offers peace of mind because these agencies are often accredited by third party organizations and have stringent policies and procedures in place to ensure the highest quality of care is provided.
At Closing the Gap Healthcare, our speech language pathologists can work with your child to help them communicate more effectively, and can provide education, training, and counselling for patients and their families. To learn more about our speech language pathology services, please contact us today.