As of April 1, 2022, Toronto Public Health is no longer providing Preschool Speech and Language, Blind-Low Vision and Infant Hearing programs. These programs have moved from Toronto Public Health to Surrey Place. To make a referral or for more information, please contact Surrey Place at 416-925-5141. Learn more about this change.

Your child’s communication and social skills are important for building relationships, learning and maintaining overall health.


Communication skills are an important part of your child’s development so that they can make requests, share ideas and comments, ask and answer questions, follow instructions, make friends, learn and participate in activities.

The first three years of life are very important for language and communication development. As a newborn, babies cry to express that they need something. Within their first year, babies begin to smile and laugh, babble, make actions/gestures, and eventually use words and word combinations to express what they want and need. Communication also includes how a child understands language and how they play and interact with others. There are many things you can do to help your child develop language.

Some languages are spoken (examples: English, French) and some languages are signed (examples: American Sign Language, Langue des signes québécoise). Communication can also involve facial expressions, gestures, pictures and technology (examples: speech generating devices).

Babies and children use different senses to learn language, such as hearing and vision. For example, a child learning a spoken language needs to hear what their caregiver is saying. A child learning a sign language needs to be able to see their caregiver’s hand positions, movements and facial expression.

Who to Contact for Help

If you are concerned about your child’s communication development, contact a registered speech and language pathologist for help.

The Preschool Speech and Language Program in Ontario provides assessment and intervention for preschool aged children with communication delays/difficulties, and their families. To access these services in Toronto, contact Surrey Place.

If your child is attending school, contact your child’s school board to access speech and language supports and services.

You can also find a speech-language pathologist in your community, through the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario. There may be a cost associated with community-based speech and language services.

For more information about your child’s development or behaviour and would like to talk to a Public Health Nurse, please contact us at 416-338-7600 or chat live.