Becky McArthur, S-LP(C)
Know Your Speech Therapy Options
Important note: although the content of this blog post may apply to other geographical areas and allied health professionals, it was written in the context of pediatric speech-language pathology services in Ontario, Canada.
Speech-language pathology (SLP) services, sometimes referred to as speech therapy, are offered in two main avenues: public and private.
What’s the difference?
The difference between public and private services lays in who pays for the services. With public services (such as through children’s treatment centres, schools and hospitals), services are paid for by tax-payer dollars. As such, families do not pay directly for these services. With private services (often called “private practice”, such as with We Communicate), families pay directly for services (note: some families have access to extended health benefits which can be used towards private SLP services).
Why consider private services?
You may wonder why someone would pay directly for services (i.e., use private SLP services) when public SLP services are available. Here are a few considerations that families have shared with our team for why they looked into private SLP services:
Wait time- although this is not always the case, private services can sometimes have less wait time to begin services than public services. This varies greatly based on the specific public and private services in your area, and the specific needs of your child.
Eligibility- in public services, there are often certain criteria that must be met in order to permit accessing SLP services (often called eligibility criteria). If a child’s skills are not below a certain level, they may not be offered additional services. In private services, there are no predetermined eligibility criteria. SLPs are required to practice ethically (and thus not recommend or provide services to a child who does not need it) but are able to support a child when a family or school feels it would benefit the child.
Amount of service- public services often have restrictions on how much service they can provide a child at one time. This is sometimes referred to as a “block” of therapy sessions before a period of time off of services (e.g., having 10 therapy sessions and then a 6 month break of no services). In private services, there are no predetermined criteria for how much service a child receives. The recommendations for how frequently (how many sessions per week) and how long (over how many weeks/months) a child is seen is based on the child’s needs. At We Communicate, many families work with our team over many months and sometimes years in order to support their success in life and school. This is especially true for our clients who work on literacy (reading and writing). Of course, families have the right to end or break from either public or private SLP services at any time, regardless of whether they are in public or private SLP services.
Types of service or service provider- in public services, you often have less control over the types of service your child gets (e.g., therapy with small group of kids, individual sessions) or the SLP you work with. In private services, you can specifically look for a private SLP provider who provides specific types of services (e.g., individual vs group therapy, uses a specific type of therapy approach, has a certain type of training) or who you feel is a good fit for your child and family. It’s common for our team to refer children to another private practice SLP who has a skill set that may more optimally support that child.
Planning for private services
There are many things to consider when thinking about private practice. Here are a few to get started:
Financial commitment- since you pay out of your own pocket for private services, it is important to consider if your family is in a position to pay for private services at this time. We share our fees on our website so families can plan in advance.
Time commitment- private SLP services are also a commitment of time. When deciding whether it is a good time for your family to commit to private services you could consider the time driving to/from appointments, for appointments, and practicing at home. At We Communicate, we see our families on a once (or more) weekly basis, and often recommend daily practice between appointments. We try to help families as much as possible by offering services in the comfort of families’ homes and online.
Finding an SLP who can support your child. As we discussed above, it is often helpful to find a provider who provides the type of service you are looking for your child and you feel is a good fit for your family. You may consider or ask things like:
Do I want my child to have appointments individually or in a group? Our team currently provides individual services (one child at a time).
Do I want appointments online, in my home or at a clinic? Check out where we service here.
Do you have experience with [insert concerns you have about your child’s speech, language or literacy]? Check out the areas we services here.
Feeling inspired and excited that We Communicate may be a space for your child to strengthen their literacy, speech or language skills? Let's team up! Complete our quick online form to get started.
We come to your home in:
Anywhere else in Ontario?
We provide the same services using the Zoom platform - all you need is a laptop with a camera and an internet connection!