I think my child needs help with speech and language – What should I do?

May is Speech and Hearing month and there’s no better way to celebrate than to offer $20 screenings! S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks is offering $20 speech and language screenings for the entire month of May. You can call us today to book yours now!


Speech and language development is important for learning, literacy, and communicating with others. Early assessment and treatment of speech and language difficulties makes a big difference in a child’s prognosis for improvement.

Speech and Language screenings are a helpful tool used to determine if a child is developing within the “average” range when compared to other children his or her age. Screening tests identify areas that may need further assessment and are an important part of increasing your awareness of your child’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.


At Speechworks, our speech and language screenings will look at the following areas of your child’s language:

  • Comprehension
  • Verbal expression
  • Articulation and Phonology (speech sounds and processing of speech sound patterns)
  • Early Literacy
  • Voice
  • Resonance
  • Social Language Skills
  • Fluency (stuttering)

Screenings are performed through play activities; discussion with parents, and observations made during the session. Screenings are completed in approximately 15-20 minutes.

What Happens If My Child Does Not Pass the Screening?

Depending on the difficulties noted by the SLP, you may be provided with strategies and tips to work on at home with your child, with follow up recommended in a month or so. If your child has notable difficulties that are not developmental in nature, then further assessment and evaluation will be recommended to develop a plan for treatment.

Visit our website for more details about our services or call us to book your child’s speech and language screening today!

Linda Saarenvirta is a speech-language pathologist who has been practicing for over 20 years in the healthcare field.  She has worked with a variety of communication disorders and clients of all ages.  She is extremely passionate about voice therapy and enjoys helping clients achieve their vocal needs.  Her client centered approach to therapy ensures all clients maximize their potential and achieve their goals.


Daily Activities to Help Build Language Skills

shutterstock_147345410The best opportunities for your children to learn language are through daily routines. You can learn how to model language and make a simple routine (e.g. changing a diaper) into a teaching opportunity. It’s easier than you think. Start to model words in your child’s environment. Pausing to encourage repetition is a great first step. Check out the activities below to encourage interaction and communication.

Building Language Skills

Here are 7 different daily activities that show you how teach your little one new words. Let’s model the concept words, “up” and “down”


  • Read the book “Up, Up Down” by Robert Munsch
  • Combine finger play with language. This is an easy book where you can use your fingers/hands to climb “up, up, up” and “fall down” along with your voice climbing up or down with the text. The actions and finger movements are often fun adult-child interactions.
  • After, you read the book a few times, say the line “She went……”, and look with anticipation at your child. They may participate by filling in “up, up” either with their fingers or with words.

Getting Dressed and Undressed

Think about how many times a day you dress and undressed your child or even change a diaper. Instead of making this a dreaded task, think of it as more time to model language and engage your child. Here are some target language phrases to teach  concepts “up” and “down” when changing your child:

  • “Sit down
  • “Foot up” – to get sock on/off
  • “Stand up
  • “Zipper goes up” or “Zipper goes down”
  • You can take turns zipping up and down a zipper on either your coat or the child’s coat. You zip up the coat. Before zipping it down, PAUSE, wait with an excited expression, then model “ZIPPER DOWN”, and do so.

Climbing the Stairs

Even a simple routine of climbing the stairs can have you teaching and exploring language with your child. As you climb the stairs say, “Up, up, up” or “down, down, down.”

  • You can pause at the first step and offer a choice, “go up or down?”/
  • You will know if they understand the concept words if the follow direction by pointing or use the concept words.

Meal time

While at the dinner table, sing a song. It is a great time to be the child’s eye level for face to face contact.

  •  Sing action songs and repetitive rhymes which are great for encouraging communication.
  • Pause at the end of a well-learned song or rhyme, and look with anticipation at your child.
  • Example: “The itsy bisty spider went …”

Getting into the car seat/driving in the car

Think about how many times are you driving to the store, daycare, or to visit family and friends. This is a perfect time to model the concepts up and down.

  • “climb up”
  • “jump down”
  • Children love when you roll the windows up and down. Put the window midway and offer a choice, “window up or down?”

Bath time

Bathing the children and teaching language, now that’s what I call multitasking!

  • During your bath time routine, put toys on the bathtub and say the words, “fall down” as you push the toys in.
  • Keep the mess in the tub! Blowing bubbles is another fun activity to learn language. Blow a bubble and say, “bubbles go “up, up” or “bubbles fall down.”
  • Pause before you blow a bubble, and look with anticipation at your child.


Here are some more examples of using the concepts up and down while being silly with your children.

  • Farm animals and a barn. You model.  “Pig marches “up, “up” “up” the barn, “Fall down”
  • Cars and a car ramp.  You model, “Car goes up and car goes down”
  • Lift your child up in the air, say the word “up” over and over again. Lift your child up with your feet or knees while lying with your back in the floor. Repeat the words, “up” and “down”. Pause before you lift your child, and look with anticipation at your child.

Things to Remember

Remember it is important that you pause only to the point at which you give the child time to process a communication attempt, not to the point of a power struggle… then MODEL the expected response, and continue the activity.

Once you get the hang of it, change the language concepts and continue to facilitate communication during these and other every day routines.

TeriLynam-220Teri Lynam is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist with ten years of experience working in the field of communication disorders. She has a special interest in early language, literacy development, acquired brain injury, motor speech and resonance disorders. Teri is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment.

Fun Games to Play with Your Children in Waiting Rooms


“Waiting room”…..how appropriately named! We wait with our children in hockey arenas, dance studios, dentists’ offices, in traffic and in grocery store check-outs. Keeping our kids engaged in a fun activity usually makes the waiting time much better. Having activities to do that don’t require any props are the key to “happy waiting”.  My kids would ask for fun games to play that were “inside my head”. Here are a few of the games from inside my head…

Higgy Piggy

To play Higgy Piggy, you create a riddle and the answer is two rhyming words. This is best played with kids who understand the concepts. It targets synonyms and rhyming.  One person comes up with the question and the rest, guess. For example: Q: What is a favourite bug? A: Best pest Q: What does a cold ship wear? A: A boat coat.

I Spy

Waiting rooms are often limited in colour, but to target adjectives, you can also pick an item by its shape, size, texture, etc. “I Spy with my little eye something that is yellow or round or a parallelogram or tiny or bumpy”.  Everyone takes turns guessing what is spied.  The winner of the round chooses the next object.

20 Questions

This is also a fun game for kids of all ages that targets question generation and convergent thinking skills (i.e. putting all the clues together to reach a correct conclusion). Everyone agrees on the category or group they will all pick from (for example animals, food, sports). When it’s your turn, choose an item from this category. Then, everyone asks yes or no questions about your item and tries to guess what it is. For example: It’s an animal. Is it a pet? No. Is it a farm animal? Yes.  Does it lay eggs? No. Does it moo? No. Is it pink? Yes.

Tell a Tale

Someone starts by making up the beginning of a story, perhaps something dramatic like “Once upon a time in a creaky old house….” The next person adds to the story, “there lived a three-legged orange monkey”. Each person takes their turn connecting an idea to the story. It encourages everyone to think creatively!

Cherry and Pit

This activity is an excellent conversation starter and an opportunity to support each other. When it’s your turn, you tell about the best part of your day, the “cherry”, and the worst thing about your day, the “pit”. Matching your response to the others cherry or pit with cheers or support is an excellent social language skill for children to practice.

I’m going on a Picnic

This is an alphabet/memory game. Start the game by saying, “I’m going on a trip and in my suitcase I will pack A for alligator shoes” (or any word that begins with A).The next person says, “I’m going on a trip and in my suitcase I will pack A for alligator shoes and B for a broom” The next person tries to remember everything the person before them brought and adds an item with the next letter of the alphabet. Chances are, the waiting will be over before you get to Z.

SandyMastoris-220Sandy is a dedicated professional with 30 years experience serving clients with communication challenges.  She specializes in working with clients who have an acquired brain injury.  Sandy’s expertise also includes planning and implementing  pragmatic/social language programs. Sandy enjoys the successes of her clients and working within a committed and professional team.


With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to get prepared for fun easter activities to do at home to help speech and language communication for preschoolers.


Corduroy’s Easter by Lisa McCue: For ages 2.5-4

IMG_0875This is a wonderful flap-book to help hold the attention of little ones. It is great to work on early concepts such as, open and close and is great for vocabulary building. It is great to help your child begin to learn about Easter traditions such as decorating eggs while exploring locations such as the farm and grocery store. You don’t need to read the word the first time around, you can simply just talk about the pictures. Avoid asking questions to your child, but rather label the pictures and wait for him/her to label too!


IMG_0876Clifford’s Happy Easter by Norman Bridwell: For ages 4-6

This is colourful book that is great for working on sequencing and helping a child learn about an Easter egg hunt and decorating eggs.  If your child has difficulty with the /k/ and /g/ sounds this book can also help to target those sounds. This book perfect for working on comprehension and has a humorous story. Who doesn’t love Clifford?!


IMG_0877Easter time is a great time to pick up a bunch of plastic eggs. They can work on so many different language and articulation skills. Definitely a very versatile therapy tool. Make sure to obtain eggs that are multi coloured and different sizes (yes they sell big and small versions). Here are some ideas of what you can do during a traditional Easter egg hunt!

Where Questions/prepositions

A classic egg hunt is a great way to work on “where” questions, particularly using prepositions and doesn’t take as much space as you might think. Place the eggs in strategic locations, under, in, next to, beside items in the environment. Ask your child “where” a certain coloured egg is and prompt them for a preposition in their response.


Stimulate a yes/no activity by obtaining various items that will or will not fit into the eggs. Play one of three ways, 1) make predictions about what will firt into the egg and then ask again when you see the result (eg. “Do you think this will fit?” and “Does it fit?”) 2) mix and match coloured and different sizes of tops and bottoms and ask the child if a select two should go together. Also an exercise in same/different 3) place different items inside the eggs prior to seeing the child. When the child arrives, have them shake, listen to or feel the weight of the egg and what’s inside and guess the contents. They can then check to see if they’re right or wrong by answering “yes” or “no”.

Descriptive Vocabulary

Using traditional Easter egg colouring kits or just plain markers, try to use concepts of “same” and “different” in addition to descriptive words that relate the eggs. One could be polka dots, one could be striped. If you use wax writing while dying one could be “rough” while one could be “smooth”. A complementary game of “I Spy” would nicely help to reinforce these concepts (eg. “I Spy an egg that is pink and bumpy”). Using store bought plastic eggs, consider gluing differing textures of items for the same effect.


Make labels for the eggs that have initial, medial and final target sound on them. For eg. “sock” (initial s ), “grasshopper” (medial s) and “bats” (final s). Colour code the labels so if your child can’t read they can still determine the sound placement. Have fun collecting the eggs in a basket.


Eggshell collage

Use food colouring to colour crushed eggshells. Use a few different colours. (You can use eggshells from eggs you have used. There is no need to hard boil these eggshells.) Let your child glue eggshells to a piece of paper, after the dye has dried.

Easter Basket

Children cut out two identical Easter basket shapes and about three different coloured eggs. The grass in the picture can be made with green construction paper and store bough Easter grass. Children can glue the eggs and grass to the basket, then staple the two basket pieces together.


These are great to play with the entire family! Share the Easter fun!

Egg Toss

Divide the family into two teams. Use plastic eggs and an Easter basket. Place a piece of masking tape on the floor for a throw line. The distance from the basket to the line should vary with abilities. Have the family take turns throwing the eggs into the basket. Whichever team gets the most eggs in the basket wins.

Bunny Bowling

Gather 8 half gallon milk cartons, or 2 liter bottles. Fill the bottles about 1/8 full with water ad seal the lid. Then, decorate the bottles like bunnies, adding construction paper ears, and use permanent markers for the eyes and nose. Set the bottles up like they were bowling pins and have the family roll a ball to try to knock them over. If they don’t knock over easily, remove some water.

AmyWebAmy Grossi is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, practicing for over 10 years. She has gathered experience working for the ministry and private clinics. Amy enjoys the area of early language, literacy development, apraxia and fluency.



shutterstock_50844475NO AGE IS “TOO EARLY”

Is your child a late talker? Does your child have difficulty following directions or answering questions? Does your child have difficulty pronouncing certain speech sounds? Do you wonder whether your child might have delayed speech or language skills compared to other children his age? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions it is best to contact a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) for an assessment of your child’s speech and language skills. No age is too early to meet with an SLP for an assessment to decide if an intervention plan is needed.


Many parents who have children that are developing normally in every other way (social skills, play skills, fine/gross motor skills), have been told by family, friends or their family doctor “not to worry”. Often, parents are told to just “wait and see” if their child will outgrow their speech or language delay and hope for the best. While children develop at their own pace, SLP’s know certain milestones which should be reached by a specific age. When these milestones are not reached, this can be a cause for concern and, without the benefit of early intervention, can cause challenges down the road.


Research has suggested that 70-80% of late talking toddlers will outgrow a language delay if it is an expressive delay only, which  means that a significant proportion (20-30%) will not catch up to their peers (1).  Research shows that when children don’t catch up in their language skills, they may have persistent language difficulties, as well as difficulty with reading and writing when they get to school (2).  It is difficult to know which late talkers will catch up and which fall into the group that does not catch up (3). Elaine Weitzman, speech-language pathologist and Executive Director of The Hanen Centre, has suggested that a “wait and see approach” is not advisable when it comes to language development. Delaying intervention delays important treatment that can make a big difference to a child in so many ways.


Early intervention does not just involve “treatment” for the child, but also it provides education, support and guidance for parents. Early intervention can have a significant impact on your child’s development. It can help to improve their ability to communicate, interact with others, and improve their social skills and emotional development. There are many reasons to intervene early. Five reasons are summarized below:


Young children develop the majority of their speech and language skills in the first three years of life. During this time, this learning influences how the brain develops. Early intervention is critically important because infants, toddlers and preschools have developing brains that are designed to learn communication skills. If there is problem with that development, therapy should be started as soon as possible to take advantage of this period of normal brain development.


A child may be able to develop normal speech or language, although this is difficult to predict for most young children. We often don’t know the cause of “late talking” and can’t predict the course of development, however with early intervention many children will develop language and catch up to their peers prior to starting school. With regards to an articulation delay, an SLP can assess and provide treatment for these speech sound disorders which can be quickly eliminated with early intervention.



This involves improving communication skills during play and daily routines with your child. It is the most common outcome expected from speech and language intervention for young children with communication delays. Becoming a more effective communicator helps a child to communicate with adults and peers and can also decrease frustration and negative behaviours.


These are strategies used to develop a functional means of communication for a child who is not using any verbal language. Compensatory strategies can be taught to help reduce a child’s frustration with communication difficulties. For example, teaching a child to use “pictures” or “basic signs” to help them communicate things such as, what they want to eat or what toy they would like to play with. These strategies can help to give the child an immediate way to communicate while also working on more long-term strategies to develop other speech and language skills.


During early intervention parents are provided with the tools that they need to facilitate speech and language development. Parents and/or caregivers are at the centre of early intervention because they provide the necessary language models on a daily basis that children need to develop language and communicate more effectively. Through early intervention, parents can be taught valuable early language strategies so that they can help facilitate their child’s speech and language development during play, reading books and during daily routines such as mealtime and bath time. They can also be taught specific cueing and/or feedback strategies for specific speech sounds.

  1. Ellis EM, Thal DJ. (2008) Early language delay and risk for language impairment. Perspect Lang Learn Ed., 15(3): 93-100.
  2. Sharma M., Purdy, S.C. & Kelly, A.S. (2009). Comorbidity of auditory processing, language, and reading disorders. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 52(3),706-22.
  3. Dale, P., Price, T., Bishop, D., & Plomin, R. (2003). Outcomes of early language delay: I. Predicting persistent and transient language difficulties at 3 and 4 years. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 544-560

CarrieWebCarrie Rosler is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist who has been practicing pediatric speech pathology for over 13 years. Carrie is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment. Carrie has a special interest in Motor Speech Disorders and Auditory Verbal Therapy.