First Words Services

First Words provides free services for families with children from birth to eligibility for Senior Kindergarten. The program partners with community workers, Early Childhood Educators and clinicians.

We’ve recently changed how we provide speech and language screening in Ottawa.  Check out our new Communication Checkup online screening tool!

This new screening tool takes about 15-30 minutes to complete.  It looks at different areas of your child development such as:

  • Speech and language
  • Fine and gross motor
  • Social communication
  • Social behaviour
  • and much more!

Get instant results and next steps to take to support your child’s development.  Click here to get started!

Direct referrals to First Words Intake at CHEO.

Families are encouraged to complete the Communication Checkup e-screening tool. By completing the tool, you can be sure that your child will be supported by the agency that best suits their needs. You can also choose to provide a copy of your child’s results to the agency to inform their assessment.

You can make a self-referral to First Words Intake Office at CHEO if:

  • You do not wish to complete the Communication Checkup and you suspect a speech and language delay
  • You suspect a speech and language delay and/or your child is not meeting the communication milestones.

Call 613-737-7600 ext. 2500 to request an Intake Package.


Clinical Speech Language Pathology services. The First Words services include these steps:

  1. Parents access our Communication Checkup e-screening tool  for their child or can self-refer to the First Words Intake Office located at CHEO.
  2. Parents must complete and return the First Words Intake package.
  3. Child will be assessed by a Speech Language Pathologist.
  4. Child and family access treatment and intervention.
  5. The Speech Language Pathologist will support the family with transition to school.

Community Outreach and Health Promotion. Public awareness, prevention and education activities are offered to parents, the community and health professionals in Ottawa. Check out strategies and resources.