When Should You See a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Ontario’s regulated audiologists and speech-language pathologists continue to follow public health guidelines to keep you and your loved ones safe.  Appointments can be in-person or through virtual care (on-line). Learn more, visit CASLPO's COVID-19 Information page.

Image of child and grandparent reading

When you can’t understand or speak clearly, it’s hard to be successful at school, work or play. A speech-language pathologist can help if you have concerns about your child's communication, a family member’s recovery after an illness or a problem with your voice.

These highly trained professionals can assess, treat and provide information for different communication barriers.  Speech-language pathologists work with children and their families, when a child is slow to start talking, can’t pronounce certain sounds, stutters or has trouble understanding. Speech-language pathologists can also help adults who have trouble speaking after a stroke, brain injury or other illness, as well as children and adults who have difficulty with eating and swallowing.

Do I Need to See a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Here are questions you can ask yourself – about you, your child or another adult to identify a potential speech or language problem.

For Children

  • Has your toddler stopped learning new words?
  • Does your preschooler need help to talk about activities or friends?
  • Do other people need help to understand your child?

For Adults

  • Do people often ask you to repeat something you’ve said?
  • Do you have slurred speech, especially when you are tired?
  • Do words often come out wrong?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, you should consider meeting with a speech-language pathologist.

What to Expect During a Visit

At your first appointment, the speech-language pathologist will ask questions and do a thorough assessment. They will discuss options and make recommendations, sometimes referring to other health professionals if there are concerns beyond communication.

Where to Find a Qualified Professional

Speech-language pathologists work in a different health and educational settings, including your home, preschools, schools, hospitals, specialized out-patient clinics and long-term care facilities. They often work with other health professionals, sometimes as part of a multidisciplinary team.
As regulated health-care professionals, speech-language pathologists must be registered with the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO) in order to practice. The College is here to protect the public interest and help ensure speech-language pathologists provide safe, competent and ethical, care that follows standards.

You can visit the website to check to see if a speech-language pathologist is registered to practice in Ontario, file a complaint or to find a speech-language pathologist near you.

Speech-Language Pathology: an Overview

Older couple interview

A speech-language pathologist is trained to assess, treat and provide information for communication problems. Speech, language, voice, fluency, hearing and cognitive-communicative problems can include when:

  • A child is slow to talk
  • A child has difficulty understanding what is said (comprehension or receptive language difficulty)
  • A child has difficulty putting a sentence together (expressive language difficulty)
  • A child cannot say certain sounds (phonological or articulation problem)
  • A child is hard to understand, even though he/she can talk in full sentences (phonological or articulation problem)
  • A child or adult stutters (dysfluency)
  • A child or adult has cognitive communication problems from a head injury
  • A child or adult has a chronically hoarse voice or "loses" their voice for periods of time (voice problem or dysphonia)
  • An adult has surgery to remove their voice box (larynx) and require an alternative way to produce voice
  • An adult has difficulty understanding language and conversation due to a cognitive disability or following a stroke or other brain injury (aphasia)
  • A child or adult has difficulty speaking clearly as a result of cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome or following a stroke or other brain injury (dysarthria or apraxia)
  • An adult has difficulty finding the right words and putting them together to form sentences (aphasia)
  • An adult loses their ability to communicate verbally due to a progressive neurological disease such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease).
  • An adult or child needs augmentative or alternative communication.
  • A child or adult is hard-of-hearing or deaf
What Are Swallowing Problems?

image of swallow exam

Swallowing problems are called dysphagia. Dysphagia can include difficulties with chewing food, controlling liquids and drooling.  It can also include the swallowing of food and/or liquid. Speech-language pathologists assess, manage and treat the oral motor dysfunction underlying the swallowing problems and work with other people on the health care team to ensure all areas of the swallowing difficulty are addressed.

What To Do If You Have Concerns

If you have concerns about someone’s communication or swallowing, contact a speech-language pathologist. CASLPO can help you to find a speech-language pathologist in your local area or who provides virtual care.

  1. Go to our Public Register | Find A Registered Professional on CASLPO’s website. Learn more About The Public Register.
  2. Contact CASLPO Telephone: 416 975 5347 Toll Free: 800 993 9459


© 2024 CASLPO

© 2024 CASLPO

This website is intended to provide information to the public and registrants. Should there be difference in documentation previously distributed to CASLPO registrants, it is up to the registrant to source the latest version posted on the CASLPO website. Note: the term "member" and "registrant" are used interchangeably throughout CASLPO's website and documents. Both terms are synonymous with "member" as defined in the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Act, 1991, and the Regulations under those Acts.