Did you know that May is Speech & Hearing Month?

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 15, 2024

Each year, in May, First Words joins the Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) efforts to raise 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 in everyday activities.

  • Keep talking in daily activities and everyday routines.  When you talk with children in everyday routines, you are helping them grow and learn how to use communication.
  • 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).
  • Have conversations as you and your child experience your daily activities together. Conversations in everyday activities help build language, reasoning and literacy skills.
  • 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. If you read 1 book a day starting at birth, you will have read 1825 books by the time your child is 5 years of age.
  • Limit screen time.  Remember the Canadian Pediatric Society recommendations. For children under the age of 2 years, no screen time (zero), For children between the ages of 2 -4 years, limit it to 1 hour, no more. Never put a television in your child’s bedroom. It is okay to use screens and apps (Zoom, Facetime, etc) when used to connect and socialize with long-distance family and friends.

Know the signs. Act early. Refer.

At First Words, communication is all about early detection and intervention. This is why we developed an online screening tool, First Words Communication Checkup (FWCCU). This screening tool was created for parents and legal guardians of children, between the ages of 6 months to eligibility for junior kindergarten, living in Ottawa and Renfrew County. 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 how to proceed to refer to First Words.  The referral can also be done online after completion of the screening. As a best practice, screen your child’s communication every 6 months.

Get your child to participate in the Speech-Language & Audiology Canada Kids’ Contest

Each year, the Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) hosts a Kids’ Contest to encourage young people to increase their awareness of the importance of speech, language, and hearing and to share their experiences of working with communication health professionals. Get your child to participate in the SAC’s Kid's Coloring Contest and have a chance to win a 100$ gift card. Children under the age of 11 can participate. Find the contest entry forms below at The contest closes on May 31, 2024.

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.