Baby's First Year · Parenting

May is Speech and Hearing Month – It’s Time to be a Detective

A father and son enjoying a day outdoors

May is Speech and Hearing Month. Now more than ever, it’s time for us as caregivers to be detectives about how the pandemic and its restrictions may be affecting the development of our children’s communication.

Every May, Speech-Language Pathologists celebrate Speech and Hearing Month and spend time discussing the importance of early identification and intervention, raising awareness about speech and language delays, and promoting our services.

Importance of Early Identification and Intervention:

In the first 5 years, a child’s brain is growing rapidly and is developing the child’s cognitive, emotional, social, vision, motor, and language skills. Identifying speech, language, and hearing disorders early is so important because the sooner a problem is found and worked on, the better the chances of change with intervention. Don’t wait and see! Starting early and addressing concerns now can have a positive effect on the rest of your child’s life.

Potential Pandemic Effects on Healthy Growth and Development:

With the restrictions and social isolation effects of COVID-19, a lot of little ones are no longer able to interact with peers, family members outside of the home, or attend community programs.  This may be impacting children’s healthy growth and development, including their speech, language and overall communication skills. Are you wondering if your child’s communication is delayed?

To help, here are some common myths about speech and language development in young children.

Boys are often late to talkAt 12 months of age, girls can be slightly ahead of boys in language development, but significant difference and delays are not determined by gender
The child is too shy or lazy to talkShyness or laziness does not cause language delay. As speech and language skills develop, children should naturally start to practise using the skills
My child will be a late talker because another family member was a late-talker Children learn at different rates, however, if they are not meeting the milestones for their age, getting help early will help them catch up faster.
Children who speak more than one language are late talkers  Exposing a child at a young age to multiple languages will not cause or contribute to a language delay
The child is not talking because they have older sibling(s)  A child who has older siblings may start to talk slightly later than their older siblings did, however, it should not cause them to not meet their milestones or have a speech or language delay.

What to do if you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development:

Early Abilities provides free preschool speech and language services for families living in Toronto. Still wondering if your child should be referred to our program?  Take a look at our communication checklist. If you have any questions about your child’s development, fill out our online registration form. We will help determine if there are any speech, language, social communication or play skills that are delayed, and we will work with you to help make a change in your child’s development.

We are currently offering virtual services as in-person services are paused due to COVID-19. We will resume in-person services as soon as we are safely able to do so.

Our objective is to empower and work with you as the caregiver. We provide you personalized goals and strategies to try at home in your everyday routines to help improve and maximize your child’s speech and language development.  

For more information:

May is Speech and Hearing Month

As of April 1, 2022 the Preschool Speech and Language, Blind-Low Vision and Infant Hearing programs have moved from Toronto Public Health (Early Abilities) to Surrey Place. To register for services or learn more about the programs, please visit Surrey Place or call 416-925-5141.

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