When should you see a Speech-Language Pathologist?
When you can’t understand or speak clearly, it’s hard to be successful at school, work and even socializing or at play. Whether you have concerns about your child's communication or a family member’s recovery after an illness or a problem with your voice or accent, a speech-language pathologist in your community can help.
These highly trained professionals can assess, treat and provide information for a range of communication barriers, for example, if your child is slow to start talking, can’t pronounce certain sounds, stutters or has trouble understanding you. 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?
There are a few self-evaluation questions you can ask yourself – about your own experiences or your child or an adult family member – to identify a potential speech or language problem. Here are some key questions:
- Does your toddler say more words every month?
- Does your preschooler talk about activities at school or friends' homes?
- Do other people understand your child?
- 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?
What to expect during a visit
Depending on what your concern is, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire or write a list of the words your child can say. At your first appointment, the speech-language pathologist will ask lots of questions and do a thorough examination. They will discuss options and make recommendations. Sometimes, other health issues can be related to communication disorders. They work closely with other professionals, sometimes as part of a multidisciplinary team, in providing a coordinated program of care.
Where to find a qualified professional
Speech-language pathologists work in a variety of health and educational settings, including your home, preschools, schools, community centres, hospitals, specialized out-patient clinics and long-term care facilities. You don’t need a referral from your family doctor to see one, but you will need a “physician’s order” if you or your family member is in a hospital.
As regulated health-care professionals, speech-language pathologists must be registered with the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario in order to practice. The College is here to protect the public interest and help ensure you receive ethical, quality care that follows standards.