Specialized speech & language services

Support & solutions for diverse challenges

Sometimes, you or your child might need help with a speech or language-related issue that isn’t covered by a general test. At Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia (HSNS), we’re committed to providing the right services for every Nova Scotian, no matter how unique their situation.

We offer a wide range of specialized services from help with swallowing difficulties to autism-related support and help for home schooled children.


Swallowing services

Safe eating and swallowing are essential for maintaining nutrition and good health for you or your child. 

More about swallowing services 


Cleft lip and palate services

Hearing and Speech staff working with the IWK Cleft Lip and Palate Team see infants, children and youth from across the Maritimes born with a cleft lip and/or palate or other problems with the palate. A speech-language pathologist on the Cleft Palate Team will work closely with your child’s team at the IWK Health Centre throughout their development to maximize potential for developing great communication skills.

Nova Scotia preschool aged children are eligible for outpatient speech-language pathologist services from HSNS in their community until they go to school.

How the process works

One of our speech-language pathologists will see you and your child for an assessment at approximately 6 months of age, and again at 18 months to monitor speech-language development. If your child has difficulty with speech, language or nasal tone, they will provide support as needed until your child goes to school and is fully-grown, getting recommendations from the cleft palate team as necessary.

If your child’s speech remains too nasal, it might be recommended for you to bring them for more specialized tests with the team at the IWK Health Centre to help determine if they would benefit from further speech therapy or in some cases, surgery.

Make an appointment with the Cleft Palate Team

Your child’s doctor can refer your child to the Cleft Palate Team by contacting the Cleft Lip and Palate Team Coordinator at 902-470-8027.


Velopharyngeal Inadequacy (VPI) Clinic

Hearing and Speech works with the team at the IWK VPI Clinic to assist in evaluation of your child's speech, palate (roof of mouth), and nose to see if there is a problem and what should be done about it. When you come to the clinic for the first time, your child will have at least two appointments: one with the speech-language pathologist (SLP) and one with the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. Both of them will want to listen to your child talking. They will look inside your child's mouth. They may us a computer to measure sound out of your child's nose and mouth. At the end of the appointment, the SLP and ENT doctor will discuss with you whether your child might benefit from speech therapy or a surgery to improve the way their palate muscles work. They will discuss all of the options with you based on your child's needs. 

Your child's family doctor, an ENT doctor or an SLP can refer your child to the VPI Clinic by completing a referral form or calling the clinic at 902-470-8049. 


Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

Augmentative and alternative communication is all about helping you find and use the right communication tools for your everyday needs. These communication tools could mean anything that supports or takes the place of speech and writing, like gestures, sign language, communication boards, computers or an iPad.


How do I get help for augmentative and alternative communication?

All speech-language pathologists with HSNS provide AAC and can also refer you to a specialized service called the Augmentative Communication Consultative Service (ACCS) if you or your child needs extra help in this area.

When possible, we make an effort to get you the help you need close to home, but visits in Halifax are sometimes necessary at the IWK Health Centre for children and at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre for adults. Hearing and speech staff are part of the teams for both children and adults.


Make an appointment for augmentative and alternative communication

Your local speech-language pathologist can make a referral. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need help finding a speech-language pathologist near you.


Autism services

Children with Autism face unique challenges as they grow. We offer services to Nova Scotians who have preschool aged children with a confirmed or provisional (not yet confirmed) diagnosis of Autism. You’ll have access to speech and language support, plus family-centered services like parent/caregiver training programs and peer play groups.

You’ll be able to see a speech-language pathologist and a communication disorders technician in the clinic or in a natural environment like the home, preschool, daycare or pre-primary.


Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention

Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) is a program for preschool aged children with Autism. Hearing and Speech staff work in partnership with Nova Scotia Health or IWK Health to provide parent training and treatment for families across Nova Scotia.


Speech and language services for Home Schooled Children

Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia provides consultation services to home schooled students across the province. This may include direct service at community sites, through video conferencing and/or indirectly via email, mail or telephone. The speech-language pathologist responsible for this consultation service may travel to the HSNS site closest to a family’s home a maximum of two times per year (typically spring and fall) for face-to-face assessment or intervention.

In this consultation service, the student, parent and speech-language pathologist work together to decide on goals and targets. This process usually begins with an assessment of skills followed by collaboration between the parent and speech-language pathologist to decide on strategies for the student to use at home. When possible, the speech-language pathologist will provide materials to support home-based practice.

Students must be registered as home-schooled with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) to be eligible for this service.

To make a referral for home-schooled services or to ask questions, call 902-492-8201. 


Head and neck cancer care

Speech-language pathologists work with people who have difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing. Outpatient and inpatient services are provided to patients with cancer of the mouth, tongue, throat, voice box, and other areas. Patients may be having surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy or they may be living with cancer.

Referrals for this service are usually received directly from Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors or from your doctor or nurse practitioner.  If you have unanswered questions about difficulty with swallowing, speaking or breathing contact your local Hearing and Speech site.


Services en français / Francophone Services

Une barrière de la langue ne devrait pas empêcher votre enfant d'obtenir de l'aide dont il a besoin. Les enfants âgés de 0 à 6 ans de familles francophones seront soutenus en anglais et en français.

A language barrier shouldn’t get in the way of getting your child the help they need. Children aged 0-6 years of Francophone families will be supported in both English and French.

En savoir plus sur services en français / More about francophone services


Specialized voice clinics

If you or your child needs support for a complex voice-related difficulty, our staff work with the Voice Lab at the QEII Dickson Building and the Voice Services Clinic at the IWK Health Centre to help with diagnosis and treatment.

More about specialized voice clinics