smallTALK is the local Preschool Speech Language program. Funded by the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Children and Youth Services, it is managed locally and preschool speech and language services are provided at all four sites in the HPHA. Services are provided by licensed Speech Language Pathologists and supported by Communicative Disorders Assistants. Ministry goals include identifying children early who may be at risk for a speech or language delay and providing the appropriate intervention in the right location. The main goal of early identification is to provide families and caregivers with the necessary techniques to facilitate language development in their young child and to provide children with the necessary communication skills. This training may take place in the hospital clinics, a licensed childcare centre or Ontario Early Years Centre. Educating parents/caregivers and working Early Childhood Educators are evidence-based approaches which can maximize the development opportunities for young children.
Early identification strategies include partnerships with several local Family Health Teams. An enhanced 18 month well baby visit provided by a nurse or Nurse Practitioner, involves developmental screens which assist in identifying children who may be delayed in communication development.
smallTALK is a major partner in Calling All Three Year Olds (CATYO), an early school registration program which includes a developmental screening. Between the enhanced 18 month well baby visit and CATYO, we have been able to reduce the average age of referral to 31 months. The earlier we can provide supports to families for children with delays the better we are able to prepare the children for school readiness. School readiness includes the necessary listening and speaking skills required to learn. Our involvement in early literacy development is a natural fit, as speech sounds and words develop in parallel to learning to read. We support the development of early reading skills by incorporating early literacy activities into our therapy and through participation in literacy programming and events in the Ontario Early Years Centres. As a member of Kids First Huron Perth, we participate in the Read to Baby Book Bundle program whereby newborns are given a board book, a booklet of nursery rhymes and finger play activities and information about developmental milestones all neatly tucked into a bright reusable bag.
Referrals are accepted through a centralized intake on a toll-free line which makes it easily accessible regardless of where the family lives in our region. The toll-free number is 1-866-333-7716. Referrals are typically directed to the hospital closest to where the family lives.
Check out our website www.smalltalkinfo.ca, follow us on Twitter @smallTALKPSL or like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/smallTALKpreschoolspeechlanguageprogram.
- Clinton Site: Second Floor
- St. Marys Site: Main Level, Meighen Wing
- Seaforth Site: Main Level
- Stratford Site: Avon Crest Building, 2nd Floor
Contact Information: Toll Free: 1-866-333-7716