May is Speech & Hearing Month!

Your child could win a 100$ gift certificate

By Roxane Bélanger, M.O.A., SLP-C, Reg. CALSPO Speech Language Pathologist, First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa and Renfrew County May 20, 2021

Did you know that May is Speech & Hearing Month? 

Each year, in May, First Words joins the Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) efforts to raising public awareness about communication health. We work to highlight the importance of early detection and intervention in the treatment of communication disorders, and the role that speech language pathologists, audiologists, and communication disorder assistants play in helping people to “Speak well. Hear well. Live well”.
Many of us take our ability to communicate for granted, but the ability to speak, hear, and be heard is much more vital to our everyday lives than most of us realize. For those who have difficulty communicating, everyday interactions can pose significant challenges. A communication disorder may prevent an individual from performing well at work, asking for help, hearing instructions at school, or even saying “I love you”.  
To support your child’s speech, language and hearing, here are tips to follow:  

1 – Promote communication development in everyday activities.

Keep talking in daily activities.  When you talk with children in everyday routines, you are helping them grow and learn how to use communication.  These tips will help to promote speech and language development in everyday routines:

  • Name the objects used at bath time, when getting dressed, or preparing supper.  
  • Label the actions you or your child are doing when playing, walking to the park, or singing. 
  • Repeat difficult or rarer words (e.g., umbrella, rhinoceros). 
  • Read to children every day. The sooner you start, the better. The more often you do it, the better. Reading books every day promotes the development of strong speech  and language skills. 
  • Limit screen time.  Remember the Canadian Pediatric Society recommendation: no screen time under the age of 2 years and a total of 1 hour for the children between the ages of 2-4 years. 

2 – Protect your child’s hearing.

Harmful noise is something to think about for children of all ages. Some toys make sounds that can damage your child’s hearing. Toy sirens and squeaky toys can be as loud as 85 dB, which is as loud as a lawnmower.  (BTW: Adults working around sounds this loud would have to wear ear protection. Concerning isn’t it!)

The sound danger can even be worse when children hold the toy near their ear.  In such a case, a 90 dB sound can grow to be as loud as 120 dB. This is as loud as a jet plane taking off. It can be painful and cause hearing loss.

Here are tips to better manage noisy toys:  

  • Check out any toy that makes noise. 
  • Before buying a new toy, listen to it. If it sounds loud, don’t buy it. 
  • If you have toys at home that make noise, you can:
    • take the batteries out to stop the noise.
    • put duct tape over the speaker to make the sound quieter, or
    • get rid of the toy.

3 – Know the signs and refer early.  

If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development or if you simply want to check how your child’s communication skills are developing, use the First Words Communication Checkup (FWCCU). 

The FWCCU is a free online screening tool created for parents and legal guardians of children, between the age of 6 months to 4.5 years, living in Ottawa and Renfrew County, Ontario. As a best practice, screen your child’s communication every 6 months. 

In 15 minutes, families in Ottawa and Renfrew County can get the information needed to know if their child is meeting the milestones or not and on how to proceed to refer to First Words.  The referral can also be done online after completion of the screening.

4 – Have fun

During the month of May, SAC host a Kids’ Contest to encourage young people to increase their awareness of the importance of speech, language, and hearing.  Get your child to participate to the Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) Kid's Coloring Contest and have a chance to win a 100$ gift card.  Any child under the age of 11 can participate. Find the contest entry forms below at Submit your entries to by May 31, 2021, for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

Recognizing speech and language problems early on is the best approach!

Check out our First Words Communication Checkup tool to know if your child is

meeting communication milestones. Refer online if necessary. For more information, visit or call Ottawa Public Health at (613) PARENTS.