Category: <span>Teachers</span>

Following Your Child’s Lead

Following Your Child’s Lead 

By McKenna Jackson, M.S., CCC/SLP


When we witness a child struggling with learning of any kind, our first inclination, as adults, is to step in and teach the child the correct way of doing things. We lead the child through instructing them in the proper way as we see it. When the task at hand is learning to talk, parents may talk for the child, finish the words for them, or use controlling language, like commands and questions, while correcting their speech.

However, it is essential that the child develop the confidence to take an active role and an eagerness to express themselves independently. Follow the child’s lead in observing their interests and level of communication. When your response is appropriate for these levels, learning to talk will come more naturally and comfortably for the child.

Steps to Take:

  • Wait, Observe, and Listen – In this way, the child’s communication methods may be observed. These may include pointing, eye gazing, gestures, grunts and crying.
  • Give Your Child a Chance – Instead of anticipating the child’s every need, allow them to have the time to express themselves. For instance, wait to serve juice until the child makes a request for it. When the doorbell rings, wait for the child to respond before answering the door.
  • Know What to Expect – After observing the child’s interests and desires along with their methods for expressing them, communication is achieved whether it be verbal, pointing, nodding, or using signs or picture boards. This is the starting level for communication — do not expect more or less. If you expect too much, you may never recognize the child’s current method of communication. If you expect too little, for instance a grunt instead of using a word the child has used before, the quality of the initiations will not improve.
  • Be at the Same Physical Level – Sit together on the sofa or on the floor where eye contact can be reached with no distractions. Verbal and non-verbal methods will be more recognizable. Your responses and facial expressions will work to encourage your child’s communication skills.

Thanksgiving Schedule

Dear Valued Clients,

thanksgivingAll our team at Dallas Reading and Language Services wish you and your family a joyous and happy Thanksgiving holiday season this year!

So that our team members may enjoy the holiday season with loved ones, please note that the Dallas Reading and Language Services clinic will be closed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (November 26th, 27th, and 28th).

We will be back open Monday, November 30th, and will be available to do regularly scheduled visits as well as make-up visits. If your child is not already scheduled at least once that week, please let us know when you would like to come in for a make-up therapy session if possible.

Kind Regards,

Rachel Betzen, M.A.,  CCC/SLP

Holiday Grieving

Rachel’s Reflections

When the Holidays Are Not Happy

By Rachel Betzen, M.A., CCC/SLP

rainy-83136_640Holidays are presented to kids as a time for thankfulness, joy, and excitement. However, for many people, the holidays can be a difficult time – children included. Children who have social language challenges may have anxiety about family gatherings, as well as trouble with the upcoming family interactions. Kids who require structure and routine to function would also benefit from some holiday support, which may include going over schedule changes ahead of time, as a safe place to settle down if the crowd becomes overwhelming.

When children are experiencing a lot of anger, sadness, or grief, they may feel more isolated around the holidays, when everyone else seems so happy.

Holidays are also a time of grieving for those who have experienced loss or family turmoil. Holidays represent anniversaries of grief, and just giving a name to a grief is a start toward recognizing their feelings.

Loss for children isn’t just the loss of a family member or beloved pet. It can be experienced due to loss of security and safety, loss of a home, loss of an important social group or support network, or loss of holiday expectations, when parents can’t pull it off for whatever reasons. Loss is more common than we think, and it touches just about everyone.

The warning signs for teachers and parents that a child is grieving can be:

• withdrawal from family activities or friends
• reluctance to engage in conversations
• increased meltdowns, or
• decreased academic performance.

Our students need supportive environments where they are able to give voice to their feelings and needs in a safe place, and work on gratitude for the blessings we have, and the gifts we receive.

Having an attitude of gratitude has to be learned, but it can be taught and nurtured everyday with the Three Basic Gratitude Questions (see below). We can start small, in fact it can be the smallest thing we notice, to help us appreciate the beauty and goodness all around us. The goal is to teach and accept everyday gratitude, so that we do not let sorrows and grief overwhelm us.

Three Basic Gratitude Questions


  • Who or what inspired me today?
  • When did I feel peace today?
  • What made me happy today?

Further reading:

When the Holidays Aren’t Joyous: 5 Tips for Helping Children Cope With Loss, by Rob Zucker, author of The Journey Through Grief and Loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child When Grief is Shared


Rachel Betzen, M.A., CCC/SLP, is a licensed speech-language therapist and is the founder and owner of Dallas Reading and Language Services.

Prioritizing Goals

Rachel’s Reflections

Prioritizing Goals for Speech-Language Therapy         

By Rachel Betzen, M.A., CCC/SLP

goalsMany students with speech-language delays/disorders come to Dallas Reading and Language Services with a list of challenges that serve as barriers. These barriers may limit their ability to be successful across all areas of their lives.

As speech therapists, we know that communication and learning challenges often come with a host of negative experiences and feelings that may fuel the child’s frustration and anger.

Across all ages, this might look to parents and educators like temper tantrums, shutting down, giving up, behavior problems at home or school, or just stinking thinking that reinforces false beliefs about how children are not smart enough or good enough to succeed.

It is important for us as therapists that we help families and educators understand that communication delays/disorders may be the direct underlying cause for these problems the child is experiencing.

When writing new and ongoing goals for therapy, our therapists take into account the challenges that are showing up in the child’s life, and how they may be related to their delay or disorder.

Questions Our Therapists Ask as Part of Our “Whole Child Intervention” System 

  • What are the family’s main concerns?
  • What concerns have the child’s teachers expressed (both older and newer teachers)?
  • How much failure has the child experienced, especially academic failure and repeated grades?
  • What grade is the child in now, and how far behind is the child in school?
  • What behavior challenges does the child have? How could these be related to speech and language development?
  • What social and emotional issues exist as barriers?
  • How sensitive is the child and how easily is his or her feelings hurt?
  • How easy or difficult is it for the child to make friends? Does he or she have good relationships with friends, or have friends at all?
  • Has the child experienced trauma from family, community, peers, bullies, etc.?
  • How well does the child participate in family and group activities?
  • How well can the child introduce him or herself (with clear speech and cohesive sentences) and join in unstructured play or conversation with new people?
  • How well does the child relate to and engage with peers the child already knows?
  • How common are communication breakdowns for the child?
  • What beliefs do the child or family have that may be getting in the way of progress?

Considering what is expected of children at home and school is helpful. The further behind a child is academically, the more important it becomes to address goals within the context of literacy.

Rachel Betzen, M.A., CCC/SLP, is a licensed speech-language therapist and is the founder and owner of Dallas Reading and Language Services.

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