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Setting the Scene

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

How to Choose Your Speech Language Pathologist (SLP): Setting

Part 1 in our ongoing series How to Choose Your SLP.

Let's set the scene:

  • Allie still can't say their /s/ sound despite several years of therapy.

  • Nolan isn't meeting milestones at their pediatrician visit.

  • Tyler just received a formal diagnosis of Autism.

  • Wenxi is stuttering and feeling very frustrated about their communication.

  • Pippa is struggling with language-based tasks at school.

As a parent, you want to help. And with some research and guidance, many parents quickly realize that speech therapy is the best way to support their child.

But then comes the hard part: actually finding the SLP.

While SLPs can be found on Google and often pediatricians will provide you a list of practices in your area, the process of finding a good match for your family is actually a bit more complicated than you might think.

Read on to learn our suggestions here at Talk Time (based on my experiences as a parent and as an SLP working in schools and private practice).

Find Your Fit

Not every SLP is the right fit for every family. And not every family is the right fit for every practice. But the right fit is crucial for your child to make progress in speech therapy.

Let's walk through some of the factors to consider when choosing an SLP:

  • Setting

  • Location

  • Philosophy

  • Price

  • Knowledge

  • Communication

This post will walk you through the first of the six factors: SETTING.


The field of speech pathology is incredibly large. We work with pediatric and adult populations across many different settings and treat a vast variety of disorders and communication challenges.

If you are a parent looking for an SLP, there are four main choices for outpatient care:

Early Intervention

Early Intervention is a publicly-funded program that provides services for children from birth to three years old with developmental delays and disabilities along with support for their families. This program is free in Massachusetts (and is free or reduced in cost in other states). If a child qualifies for services, the team from the state’s early intervention program creates an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to define what services the child needs as well as specific goals for them to work towards during therapy. Services may include speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, feeding support, and more. Early Intervention uses a family-centered model where therapists come to your home to provide services. Therapy focuses on family education and providing functional supports and strategies within the home environment for caregivers to use throughout the week.

Some therapists in Early Interventions are licensed speech pathologists trained to provide speech therapy. However, your therapist may be a developmental specialist or other type of therapist who is not a specialist in communication.


  • Free (or low cost) for families

  • In the home environment, providing a naturalistic environment for your child

  • Family approach encourages home carryover for faster progress


  • Evaluations are limited in detail in the area of communication

  • Therapists working on communication goals are not always licensed SLPs

  • Children may not qualify if they do not show enough of a delay

  • Children age-out at 3 years old and must either transition to the school or private practice for continued services.

Public School-Age Services