Speech and Language Services


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Speech and Language Services


KidsAbility provides Preschool Speech and Language Services for children from birth to senior kindergarten entry who have difficulty learning to communicate or interacting with others. This government-funded program, provided through KidsAbility as the lead agency, is free of charge to families living in Waterloo Region.

If you think your child may have a problem with speech and language, it is important to seek help right away. You do not need a doctor's referral to contact KidsAbility. You can make that call. Early identification and intervention can help to: 

  • Decrease frustration
  • Improve your child’s self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduce behaviour problems
  • Prevent problems from getting worse
  • Help your child get along with others
  • Improve your child’s readiness for school


Developmental Milestones

Children begin communicating with the world around them from the moment they are born. Approximately one in 10 children have difficulties have a speech or language challenge. You can learn more about what milestones you should be looking for your child to reach at each stage in their development.


  • Your Baby's Speech and Language Skills - Birth to 30 Months
    Available in: EnglishFrench or Other



If you are concerned about your child's speech, you can call KidsAbility to have your child assessedA Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) will be your partner in assessing your child’s communication skills, evaluating your child’s developmental needs and planning next steps with you in helping your child’s speech and language grow.

Parents and caregivers are experts on their child’s

  • Daily routines and responses
  • Relationships with others
  • Feelings and attitudes
  • Challenges and successes 


Parents and caregivers can share their knowledge and questions at the assessment. You may attend one or more appointments with the SLP, or with the SLP and other members of a multi-disciplinary team. You may be seen at a KidsAbility site, child care, or elsewhere in the community.

Preparing for an assessment can be helpful. As you interact with your baby or preschooler in everyday activities (e.g., mealtime, bath time, play), observe and record their communication. Try this at different times, on different days and with different partners.


How does your child get his or her message across?

  • gestures or actions
  • sounds and partial words
  • mispronounced words, phrases or sentences

How well does your child understand language?

  • names of things 
  • following directions
  • repeating, pointing, gesturing


How well do you understand your child’s communication?

  • sounds dropped
  • altered
  • substituted by other sounds

It may be helpful to let your child know that you will be with them in the assessment. Most assessments take up to 1 ½ hours so your child should be comfortable, fed and toileted before we begin. Please postpone when your child is sick.

Speech Language Pathologists are experts on communication development (e.g., speech, language, voice, fluency). The assessment approach an SLP takes depends on many factors including the child’s age, needs, comfort, and attention, to name a few. Most assessments include an interview, evaluation through interaction and play, informal checklists and standardized tests using engaging activities. 


If it is decided upon that your child can benefit from speech and language therapy at KidsAbility, your child's SLP and Communicative Disorders Assistants (CDA) will work together with you and anyone else involved with your child to:

  • Expand your knowledge,
  • Discover and practice effective intervention strategies,
  • Adjust to meet individual needs,
  • Support a positive, move-forward attitude


Intervention is based upon individual, ongoing assessment of a child's communication skills. The assessment information the SLP gathers may be added to the results of investigations carried out by other professionals (psychologists, medical practitioners, audiologists, etc.) and always in relation to "the history" provided by parents and caregivers. It is also based on the child’s response to intervention over time.

One intervention does not fit all.

The best intervention is the one that matches the characteristics of each child, family and the environments in which the child is growing and learning. A program will be put together to support your child and your family. It may include: 

  • Parent training: an integral part of all interventions. However, it typically refers to interactive classroom-style programs or sessions with other parents. Parents who have attended parent training report that they feel more ready to support their child, are better able to monitor progress and indicate higher satisfaction with their involvement at KidsAbility.

  • Group Therapy: that provide an enriched learning environment with great benefits to a child’s development in speech sounds or further developing language skills such as vocabulary, grammar, understanding or social language interactions with other children. Each child’s individual goals are addressed but the naturalistic setting of a peer group allows added practice of important academic and social skills such as turn-taking, listening, and emerging literacy. Parents have the added opportunity to meet and share with parents of children with similar communication challenges.
  • Individual Therapy: conducted one-on-one with a child and a SLP.
  • Home Programming: practice every day in every way is a routine intervention and critical to developing and maintaining skills achieved in individual or group interventions with SLPs, CDAs, or with other service providers.
  • Consultation: education, demonstration and support are provided to grandparents, child care providers, social and health care workers, anyone with a vested interest and involvement with a child’s development.



make a referral to KidsAbility