First, a very brief history. Psychotherapy was developed around the turn of the 20th century as first Jean-Martin Charcot, then Pierre Janet, Joseph Breuer, and Sigmund Freud, unraveled the vexing presentations of “hysteria,” a vague collection of physical and emotional symptoms observed in women. Hysteria was once thought to be a disorder of the uterus (from the Greek word for uterus, “hystera”), but was later attributed to psychological experiences – trauma in particular – and development. Psychological treatments evolved from early forms of hypnosis into the large collection of practices referred to as psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and counseling, among other terms. Judith Herman’s book, Trauma and Recovery, is an excellent source for lay and professional readers.
As with medicine, education, or any science/stats-driven human service, psychotherapy has its share of internal disagreement. There has been much debate over the past 100 years about which therapies are most effective and for which conditions. The American Psychological Association tackled some of these issues in 2012 with a set of research-based guidelines on effectiveness in psychotherapy. Here are some highlights:
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a set of clinical methods drawn from psychological principles to “assist people to modify their behaviors, cognitions, emotions, and/or other personal characteristics” as they desire. How therapy looks or feels depends on the people giving and receiving it, but all forms are rooted in dialogue.
Does psychotherapy work?
YES. The research literature overwhelming supports benefits of psychotherapy for most psychological conditions in children, adults, and older adults. Variations in effectiveness are most heavily influenced by “patient characteristics,” such as severity, complexity, and social support. Benefits of psychotherapy tend to last longer and require less additional treatment than those of drug treatments, such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications. In fact, in many studies measuring effectiveness in psychotherapy, participants reported that their gains not only endured, but continued to grow long past the point of completion.
What type of therapy works best?
There have been numerous studies comparing different psychotherapy treatments for different conditions. Even though individual studies come to widely different conclusions, broad analysis of these studies and their data shows that overall differences are not significant. Remember that patient characteristics make the greatest contribution to therapy outcome. The second largest contribution comes from characteristics of the relationship between the patient and therapist, such as expressions of empathy, positive affirmation, and a working connection between the two – often referred to as “alliance.”
There are some conditions, eating disorders and phobias for example, that have been shown to work best with specific treatments. There are also a handful of treatments that may even cause harm (e.g., Holding Therapy). Across most conditions, however, the quality of the relationship is most important. Beware of any mental health professional that boasts the methods of one treatment over another. Stay tuned for more on how to find the right therapist and what to expect in psychotherapy. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you!
Many of us look back on our own school days and recall a different type of hierarchy, one in which a shared understanding led students to “fall in line.” Today, it seems, the classroom is a new world entirely. The need to feel some form of respect is universal among adults working with children, yet we go about achieving it in myriad ways. Some teachers tend to be less restrictive of behaviors and focus more on what students are accomplishing. Others run a tight ship. They won’t stand for any kind of foolishness that they know full well is not tolerated at home.
Then of course there is variability among the students to consider. Some need to find the edges of your boundaries through experience; others will respect your authority by default. This same range exists among students with learning differences. You might find these students doing something other than what they are instructed when the designated activity poses educational barriers. Teachers observe students talking to their neighbors, wandering out of class, reading a book, playing with their phones or engaging in other behaviors that might suggest willful defiance. In short, some kids appear disrespectful because they feel disconnected from the material.
The most respected teachers span the full range from generally strict to generally lenient, so we must assume there are other factors in play. Most students recognize these differences and adjust their behaviors according to their own styles and temperaments. Educators bring their own social values and experiences to the table, producing a variety of teaching styles. With all this variability, how do the best teachers strike the right balance? How do they close the gap between the student’s and their own definitions of respect? Here are a few key elements that well-respected teachers have in common:
1. They foster good relationships with their students.
These teachers have something other than the curriculum to talk about with their students. They joke around, go to basketball games, give compliments and ask for their students’ opinions.
If you take only one thing from this article, it should be that a good relationship is the cornerstone of respect. Rapport with your students is like money in the bank. Every once in a while you have to cash it in to redirect their behaviors and attitudes. When students believe that you genuinely care for them, you may find that they also care for you and your feelings. If you feel consistently disrespected by a student, look to the relationship – not punishment – as your primary line of defense.
2. They are capable of admitting fault and apologizing unconditionally.
Admitting fault to a student when you are wrong does not undermine your authority. To the contrary, it can reinforce their trust in you and give you that extra bit of influence when you really do need to stick to your guns. When you apologize, do it unconditionally, without reservation or attempting to redistribute blame.
3. They feel entitled to respect, but work hard to earn it nonetheless.
That’s right, I said it: entitled. But don’t let that go to your head. Just because you are entitled to something doesn’t mean you are going to get it. Earning respect and being owed respect are two sides of a perfect equation; one cannot exist without the other. Work hard to earn the respect of the youngsters in your care and know that you deserve their respect in return.
4. They believe that all students are entitled to respect no matter what happens.
There are times when students will push you to the edge, when you can’t stand to be around them, or when you are just downright disgusted with their behavior, but they deserve your respect at all times no matter what happens.
5. They try to see things from the student’s perspective.
It’s like access to inside information. Having some idea of what students are experiencing helps teachers voice their expectations in ways that are more palatable. It’s that extra bit of nudge to move them the rest of the way. The more you succeed in getting students to follow your directions, the more likely they will do so on impulse.
6. They find qualities in their students that they admire.
This is one of my favorite attributes of good teachers. They see the ways in which their students thrive and even surpass their own good qualities. A classroom full of students is bound to include people who are more creative, humorous, athletic, charismatic or articulate than you. Discovering these qualities in your students can renew your spirit and guide you to speak to their strengths. Let yourself be amazed in the presence of your students and your relationships with them will flourish.
As you can see, the title of this article could have easily been “How to develop good relationships with your students,” because that is what respect is all about! Nurture these relationships and you will be rewarded.
Many of you are probably gearing up for summer vacations which may include traveling with friends and family. You have waited all year for this time off and likely have invested this brief period when you will spend a lot of money with equally high expectations. Vacations make you…. relax, rejuvenate, reconnect, explore, right? All of these possibilities exist in our fantasy of the perfect vacation. Yet travels with children can throw a wrench in the works for parents who may find themselves frustrated and vowing never to take another vacation again. Is there a better way?
While you may have fond memories of your own family vacations as a child or a young single adult, traveling with a group of people of varying ages, skills and interests (aka a family) is a complex task. Furthermore, as your children develop, each year the cast of characters on the vacation is slightly different. Where a child may be easy going at seven or eight, that same child may be self- conscious and surly at 13.
A vacation is a break in routine and thereby creates a number of challenges in the name of change. For children with varying levels of flexibility, changes in routine can trigger tantrums, sleeplessness or other behavioral challenges. Some children (and adults) don’t handle different sleep patterns, unfamiliar foods, or the absence of preferred activities well. Travel also increases expectations for good behavior and limits options for escape into preferred activities. While travel with extended family can be fun, it can also be stressful when others may judge or try to interfere with your parenting efforts.
View “Vacationing” as a Set of Skills
Since vacations are out of the norm or routine, they likely involve skills that are less often practiced. Don’t assume that your child will be tuned in to expectations in these outings—some kids don’t pick up on expectations in situations on their own. Skills such as eating at a fancy restaurant , airplane travel, going on a tour with a tour guide, or sleeping with the family in a motel room can all be practiced in advance, in smaller steps. Talking through your expectations in advance is important.
Set a Realistic Pace
Young kids often can’t handle a full day of activity. It is easy for kids to become dehydrated or cranky when meals don’t occur at expected times. Other family members may not share your idea of what makes something a vacation. Teenagers who have very busy school schedules may seek a total “veg-out” experience, yet parents may want them to take full advantage of the opportunities travel provides. In our family, we compromised that everyone would participate in one outing a day, without complaint, and then there would be options for free time later in the day. My husband and I used the free time to explore a bit on our own (once the kids were old enough to supervise themselves).
Have Plan B in Mind
Use your imagination (and executive functions) to anticipate challenges in advance. Internet sources like TripAdvisor can help you anticipate conditions on the ground and help you identify resources and alternatives in the moment. Your children may enjoy doing some of this research themselves and it may help them to become invested in the trip if they plan a “virtual” outing. It is amazing what you can find on the Internet. A young teen I know was freaking out about traveling by train alone in Germany and was worried she would not know how to buy a ticket at the train station. It was actually possible to find a website that showed the exact ticket machine in the station so that she could review it in advance.
Set Realistic Goals for Extended Family Gatherings
Vacations with extended family can be memorable both for joyful memories and for some rather unpleasant interactions. It is important to be sure that your family members have an escape hatch—and you might need to be creative to avoid offending extended family. If you can’t have a separate living space, try to create a separate daily ritual or routine. When planning an extended family vacation, be realistic—if your child does not handle strange people and places with composure, don’t commit to a two- week vacation with grandparents and cousins. Maybe a long weekend is all your family can handle or maybe you need to stay in a nearby hotel.
And for that inevitable moment when you can’t imagine why you thought a vacation was a good idea…
On a long ago vacation, we were traveling in the UK and my daughter saw a white plush cat at a gift shop in the small Scottish town where we were staying. Being conscientious parents, we told our daughter we could not just purchase something to buy something. Fast forward to a few minutes later when she was sobbing in the rain with her face pressed against the glass of the butcher shop where I was trying to purchase dinner ingredients. The butcher looked at me like “crazy American” (or at least I felt so). As you will note in the accompanying picture, we did wind up purchasing the cat once she calmed down. Were we weak? Maybe, but sometimes you just have to cave. My daughter did not grow up to be a materialistic person for purchasing unnecessary gifts on vacation. Sometimes it is important to acknowledge a child’s need for control in a situation when he or she has limited choices.
While I would not say that I have always found vacations to be restful, they have usually been fulfilling in some manner. Check out this article for the advantages of travel. And research has found that the greatest happiness accrues from the planning stage of a vacation, no matter how the vacation actually goes!
I have worked with pre-adolescent and adolescent males, primarily African-American, but other racial and ethnic groups as well, for more than 25 years. In my 17 years at The Kingsbury Center, I have specialized in working with those who have some sort of learning disability, be it a struggle to read, despite average intelligence; or slow processing, which inhibits the ability to work in “real time”; or internal distractions, like attention or anxiety, which make it challenging to be an effective learner, both in terms of academics and in appropriate social and emotional functioning. My overarching goal is to help these boys successfully transition to manhood. What I have observed in emerging young men over the years leads me to share my personal perspective on a phenomenon that causes me great concern: too many young men are not being successfully “launched.”
I think everyone would agree that a parent’s primary directive is to prepare their young for independent, adult functioning. This is true for humans, lions, tigers, bears, and even birds. Eagles (our Kingsbury mascot) learn by instinct to nest, fly, hunt and establish families of their own. The thought of an adult eagle returning to the nest or never actually leaving would be strange indeed. Many of you may be protesting already, humans aren’t the same as other animals; we have frontal lobes, complex language and social structures. Humans don’t give birth in a nest of sticks, and we try to stay warmly connected to our parents throughout our lives. In addition, humans are, well, human, and these are tough times to be a young adult; just ask any un- or under-employed millennial. I can’t argue with that, but I still believe my concern is valid.
In most cases, young African American men are “loved” to be sure, but too few are provided the opportunity to learn the tasks necessary for flying, hunting, and building and establishing their own nest. The maternal instinct is a powerful force, to be sure. There is an old saying, “mothers rear their daughters and love their sons.” Translation: mothers teach their daughters the subtle and complex tasks needed to function as adults. On the other hand, in many cases, mothers go about the daily task of nurturing and loving their sons, and for various reasons, neglect the valuable training they consider vital for daughters.
Mothers are probably huffing with indignation about now, but please hear me out. I’ll readily admit, rearing sons is no easy task, particularly for single parents. Truth be told, many mothers, often without consistent paternal support, are charged with the task of doing double duty, and may think that “teaching him to be a man” is not within their skill set, or even their right. They love, nurture and guide their sons to the best of their abilities. Yet, generally speaking, mothers are loathe to push their sons out of the nest. I personally know this to be true; I’m the fifth of six sons. And as a father, I feel the “maternal” press to love and nurture and protect my precious son. It isn’t easy to make someone you love uncomfortable, particularly when that someone is in a highly vulnerable category. We’ve all heard the statistics: young African American males are XX% (pick a statistic) more likely to be killed/shot/incarcerated than are their white counterparts.
I see a lot of young men in a state of arrested development. They are deathly afraid of attempting to fly, even with the benefit of a safety net that extends to the ground below. Far too many can be found scurrying about on the ground, chests puffed out, boasting about what their parents have acquired or regaling all willing to endure their tales of yet to be realized po-ten-tial. Their boasting, posturing and bravado notwithstanding, the common denominator is fear. They won’t admit it, but these young men are afraid. They are afraid of failure to be sure, but they are also afraid of success. From the perspective of one who hasn’t truly developed the ability to bounce back, or even the experience of falling and attempting to get up, failure confirms an enduring sense of ineptitude. Success is equally frightening, in the sense that it establishes a standard of expected performance.
The irony is that boys, or men in training, if you will, need the very experiences that they dread. It is of course best if they have fathers or other men who model and mirror effective manhood. They also desperately need a healthy dose of trial and error, false starts and even the anxiety inherent in attempting something new. Will they experience frustration, rage and embarrassment? Of course, they will. However, helping our children learn to persevere in the face of frustration is one of the greatest gifts that a parent could ever offer.
In education, teachers look for a “sweet spot” of instruction where the level of difficulty on a given task is enough to challenge, but not so difficult that the student becomes frustrated, overwhelmed and gives up. Equally important, the task can’t be so easy that the child becomes bored and quits. Our charge as parents, educators and psychologists is to become more proficient at identifying and implementing the “sweet spot.” Once identified, it is exactly the place where love, nurturance and encouragement are needed most and have the greatest impact. Young boys need to “pursue, persevere and master” in order to become powerful, competent and effective men.
Every mother no doubt envisions her baby boy growing into a fine young man one day. This transition to successful adulthood doesn’t happen automatically, and doesn’t happen without a properly supportive parent. A mother’s role, in fact, will become more challenging, as the years go by. Whether it’s climbing, jumping, bouncing, touching everything within reach or “conquering” the last “boss” in a video game, boys “need” to be active, engaging, impactful forces in their environments. The desire to be an effective change agent atrophies or takes on less desirable forms if certain interpersonal, coping, problem-solving and self-advocacy muscles aren’t “stressed” incrementally in a loving, systematic manner.
Unfortunately, there is truth to the old sports adage: No Pain (struggle), No Gain. Sometimes, love has to be tough love. In future posts I will explore how we can provide these young guys with what they need. Here’s to our boys becoming confident, powerful, competent men!
Kingsbury’s Athletic Director Mr. Joe Moten, was interviewed following several successful seasons. Winning previous League championships was a remarkable achievement given the fact that Kingsbury lacks a gymnasium. The teams practice on the outdoor basketball court and run drills and do weight training inside the building. Our student-athletes compete in a league consisting of teams from schools that serve students with learning differences, as well as charter schools and private schools without an LD focus.
Q. What key factor do you believe contributed to your team making it to and winning the championship?
Joe Moten (JM): I’d have to say it was the fact that our players bought into our goals all the way, all season long. We bonded as a team and that didn’t happen in previous seasons. Players learned to trust in their teammates; they got the message that you can’t do it alone.
Q: What is your philosophy as a basketball coach?
JM: I make certain our players learn that they are a family first and an individual second. I also emphasize the importance of hard work and dedication. We break every huddle with these words: 1, 2, 3, Family. 4, 5, 6, Hard Work and Dedication. Also, as a coach, I have to model the right behavior. I’m an intense coach and I strive to keep the players excited and to bolster their confidence.
Q: What attributes do you consider important in coaching players with learning differences?
JM: I don’t ask my players to memorize plays. They use a “read and react” offense and a man-to-man defense. I keep it basic and let them play off of their natural abilities.
Q: What advice do you give your players when they are in the heat of a close game?
JM: I give my players the same instructions, whether we’re winning, losing or in a tie: Listen to me. During the championship game, I reminded them that this was their moment. If they listened to me and followed my instructions, it would all work out. At the end of every game, I tell them to leave it on the court. If they’ve suffered a loss, they need to leave it on the court.
Q: What do you enjoy most about coaching?
JM: The attributes you need to succeed in sports are the same ones you need to succeed in life: hard work, dedication and discipline. I’m always encouraging my players that those attributes will carry over into your everyday life. It’s very rewarding to see that come to fruition when our students go on to college, to graduate and some go on to graduate school.
Q: How do you handle your frustrations during a game?
JM: I know that I have to keep calm and model staying focused. I try not to get frustrated; if I do, I don’t let my frustration show.
Q: What do you do when the referees make unfair calls?
JM: I tell my players that it’s my job to worry about the refs. They don’t have to take on that responsibility. They need to play basketball, listen to me and follow my instructions. I’ll handle the refs.
Q: Do you have suggestions for the parents of children with learning differences regarding their child’s participation?
JM: When it comes to sports, I don’t believe parents should treat a child who has learning differences any differently than a child who doesn’t. Children with LD are constantly being told they “can’t” so it’s not unusual for them to lack confidence. Parents need to remember that LD impacts HOW the child “receives” information; it doesn’t have to impact WHETHER they receive information. Also, it’s not unusual for children with LD to have mobility and coordination challenges. If school offers a sports program, sign your child up. Be encouraging! Make sure their coach is someone who will meet them where they are, in terms of ability, and get them to where they need to be.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
JM: I started Kingsbury’s athletic program in 2002 because we had students who were athletic, but couldn’t or didn’t play on local teams. They had a love of sports and no way to practice, compete or learn to play as a team. It’s been rewarding to watch students, of all levels of athletic ability, learn to play a sport and enjoy the rewards of teamwork.
Imagine you are a teacher looking out at a classroom of students. They sit at their desks vacantly looking back at you, perhaps whispering to each other, or maybe laying their heads down. Now imagine thought bubbles rising from their heads that summarize their emotions. Among them you read, “I’m angry at my brother for touching my stuff” and “I’ll go crazy if I have to sit still another minute” and “I’m worried about my mother returning home from prison” and “I’m excited because that boy I like told my bff that he likes me too!” Got all that? Ok, now teach them grammar or math or history.
There is a huge gap between a teacher’s job description and the role s/he plays in a student’s life. In that gap sits the daunting task of managing student behaviors and dealing with their emotions. Students arrive at our schools each day feeling anxious, irritated, playful, preoccupied, tranquil, disheartened and a host of other emotions, and under these conditions they must also learn. Given that emotions are so closely tied with the learning process, it stands to reason that they fall under the blanket of our responsibility.
Educators are charged with the task of teaching students in the midst of all this emotional stimulation. It’s like trying to teach at a rock concert. How does one help students manage their emotions so that they may learn? Maybe we could tell the children to think positive thoughts, just concentrate or imagine they are somewhere pleasant. Ask any teacher, it’s been tried. We all know that children have less emotional control than adults, but we tell them to try things even we struggle to do. Perhaps we should make ourselves appear so jazzed to be at school that the students can’t help but pick up the beat! No doubt you get my sarcasm here, but the truth is that teachers are already working themselves silly to keep their students engaged. Teachers who strive to radiate positive emotion in the hope that it will be contagious often finish the day emotionally exhausted.
Social and emotional learning is more than just turning the volume down on negative emotions; it’s about using emotions –positive and negative – to facilitate learning. When brainstorming, persuading, editing, reading, collaborating or observing, for example, research shows that students who feel a specific way perform at a higher level. This information is only helpful if students can identify what they are feeling and if they have the tools to re-direct those feelings. If students are to achieve the ideal emotional state for learning, they are going to need some guidance. That’s where we – the entire community of parents, teachers, administrators, aides and therapists – come in. We can start by getting comfortable with our own emotions, building an emotional vocabulary and learning how to check in with our students.
Led by psychologist Marc Brackett, Ph.D., and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, The Kingsbury Center has begun a new journey toward a more comprehensive education that fuses social and emotional development with the core of our teaching. Throughout our training in this program – called RULER – we will share with you our challenges, our successes, and yes, our feelings. As we move through this process, we want to hear about your experiences as parents, educators or students. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and join us in our transformation as we begin a new era in education.
In our work as a diagnostic tester at the Kingsbury Center, we have worked with many gifted students who struggle with underachievement and learning challenges. Often called “Twice-Exceptional” or referred to as GT/LD (i.e., gifted and talented with learning disabilities), these students are perplexing to their parents and teachers, and they encounter considerable frustration. These kids amaze in their insights and “out of the box” thinking, yet they can find basic skills challenging.
In the early Elementary School years, it is not uncommon for Twice-Exceptional children to struggle with reading skills, and they continue to face challenges as they progress in school. Managing complex projects, coping with complicated schedules, and juggling school and extracurricular activities all place demands on their organization and planning skills. Inconsistency is the hallmark of these early years—one day they grasp things quickly, only to seem totally unfamiliar with the topic the next day.
While Twice-Exceptional students are complex and confusing, they can also possess amazing perseverance and have unusual talents, often in nonverbal or spatial domains. We often tell parents if they can just get their child through school, their child will likely have success in adult life, if provided with the supports and accommodations needed to work around learning challenges. Some of our clients keep in touch whenever their diagnostic testing needs updating and we have had the pleasure of seeing Twice-Exceptional young people go on to higher education and lead successful and interesting lives.
Parents of Twice-Exceptional children play many roles, often conducting the orchestra of tutors, psychologists and teachers remediating and supporting their students. It can be easy to get caught up in managing these necessary details, but parents also have a more important role: providing the emotional ballast needed for their children to cope with extraordinary challenges. Parents are best suited to help their children identify and develop their personal talents that often lead to success in adulthood and help them weather the storm of frustrating school experiences.
In his book, In the Mind’s Eye, Tom West describes famous innovators who also had learning challenges. These historical figures faced their learning challenges in a dark time when disabilities were feared and misunderstood, yet West argues that each of these exceptional individuals had a parent who supported and nurtured their talents. Twice-Exceptional students thrive when parents embrace the ride with humor and a sense of adventure. “Out of the box” kids need “out of the box” parents.
Habits of Mind, developed by Arthur L. Costs and Bena Kallick, are “characteristics that are employed by successful people when they are confronted with problems.” They identify problem-solving, life-related skills that are necessary to effectively operate in society. Published in 2009, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mindcontinue to provide an effective means to promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship.
There are 16 Habits of Mind, defined as:
- Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
- Managing Impulsivity
- Gathering Data Through all Senses
- Listening with Understanding with Empathy
- Creating, Imagining, Innovating
- Thinking Flexibly
- Responding with Wonderment and Awe
- Thinking About Thinking (metacognition)
- Taking Responsible Risks
- Striving for Accuracy
- Finding Humor
- Questioning and Posing Problems
- Thinking Interdependently
- Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
- Remaining Open to Continuous Learning
These habits don’t come easily to everybody. How many of us have the disposition to behave intelligently when confronted with a problem for which we don’t have the answer? As you can see from the list, many of these habits are particularly difficult for students with learning differences as they work to manage their learning styles, processing needs and stamina. Kingsbury believes it is critical to expose our students to these habits so that they may grow into confident learners.
Let’s start with the concept of Persisting. For learning disabled children and adults this is perhaps one of the most critical habits to develop. So often when learning gets difficult or complicated, regardless of the presence or type of disability, we all look to take a break from the challenge. Developing the skill of persisting means that when we are confronted with difficult, new and or challenging learning tasks, we approach the task with focus, determination, perseverance, tenacity and diligence until the task is complete. Learning how to proceed with a complicated task and successfully accomplish it helps us accept challenges more readily and provides us with references and confidence for new tasks.
In support of our children who learn differently, we must capitalize on their demonstrated achievements to illustrate the habit of persistence. We need to be careful not to cause anxiety as we gently introduce and then emphasize the idea of “stick-to-it-tiveness!” I challenge my teachers every day to take good care not to frustrate or increase anxiety among our students, but to encourage persistence as a means to help him or her develop.
We encourage our parents to do the same. You can give gentle guidance to your child to “keep at it” when he or she tackles a homework assignment; tries to master a new athletic skill; or wants to quit because doing something well “takes too long.” Becoming focused and staying focused takes practice; it doesn’t happen overnight. Those who learn persistencewill know the satisfaction that comes from completing a task and be more confident the next time they confront a challenge.
KNOW THE SIGNS OF EARLY SPEECH & LANGUAGE DISORDERS
Kingsbury Center’s speech-language pathologists recommend that parents, especially those of young children, take time during the month of May to familiarize themselves with the signs of speech/language disorders and assess their children’s communication development.
It is not uncommon for parents to put off taking any action about a speech delay until a child is age three or older, according to The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Some parents may have had concerns for a year or longer before they take action. Parents with a concern are encouraged to seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist right away for the best possible outcome.
Between birth to four years of age is an important stage in early detection of communication disorder. The early stages of speech and language disorders are easier to spot when you know the signs. Remember: The most common language disorders that young children experience are highly treatable, when identified early!
Signs of a Language Disorder in children:
Does not smile or interact with others (birth and older)
Does not babble (4-7 months)
Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
Does not understand what others say (7 months-2 years)
Says only a few words (12-18 months)
Words are not easily understood (18 months-2 years)
Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5-3 years)
Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2-3 years)
Has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2.5-3 years)
What Parents Can Do:
Listen and respond to your child
Establish daily routines in order to use repetitive language
Talk, read, play and sing with your child
Talk with your child in the language you are most comfortable using
If possible, teach one or more languages to your child; it’s good to teach your child to speak a second language
Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing
Use many different words when speaking with your child
Use longer sentences as your child gets older
Have your child play with other children
Seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist right away if you suspect your child has a language disorder.
Kingsbury Center Speech-Language pathologists are trained, certified and experienced at performing assessments and developing treatment plans, particularly for children with learning differences and ADHD. To request information, please contact Ms. Marissa M. Analouei, SLP, Director of Speech and Language Services, The Kingsbury Center, via email or phone (202.722.5555, ext. 2020). Parents may also visit the Kingsbury website at http://www.kingsbury.org/services/speech-language.cfm to request a speech-language assessment.
With the approach of Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day and other springtime occasions when families and friends gather together, we would like to present the habit of thinking interdependently.
Thinking interdependently is a social habit. It is a skill to be able to work in a group, listen to others and speak so that others will listen to us. Working in groups requires students to present and then justify their ideas and then be willing to accept constructive feedback.
When children learn to interact with members of a group by listening, when they are able to give up an idea to work on someone else’s idea, when they are able to demonstrate empathy and compassion, they are developing the habit of thinking interdependently.
In support of our children who learn differently, we must keep in mind that situations that we find easy – such as sitting around the table enjoying a holiday dinner with extended family members – may in fact be much more complicated for our children. Thinking interdependently requires the mastery of complex social skills that can cause our children great anxiety and confusion. To help lessen your child’s anxiety and improve their ability to manage social situations, you may want to consider the following strategies:
Whenever possible, script with your child in advance. Let them know who will be at the event; where you will be; approximately how long you will be there; and what people will likely be talking about.
Provide your child with some advance cues regarding manners. For example, does your child know how to graciously accept a compliment; politely decline an offer of food or drink; or thank the host or hostess for their hospitality?
Take good care to help your child prepare for the specific situation, whether it is a holiday gathering, birthday party or other special event. Talk about why you are going to the event; what the celebration or gathering will entail; if any travel will be involved; and, what will be on the menu. Fill them in on family rituals or traditions so they are not surprised by the unexpected.
Help him or her to develop cooperative skills. Consider beforehand how your child can assist with the special day’s events. If children have an assigned task, or can contribute in a meaningful way (perhaps by preparing a recipe or helping to set the table), they learn how to work together and experience what it means to cooperate for the good of the group.
Practice reciprocal (two-way) communication with your child. Children who insist on doing all the talking are having a one-way conversation. Encourage your child to pay attention to and really listen to what the other person is saying. He or she needs to learn to take turns in order to have a conversation.
Please know that we also support the mastery of complex social skills here at The Kingsbury Center — in the classroom, on the athletic field, at lunchtime, during Enrichment Clusters and at special school events. After all, Kingsbury’s mission is to provide a transformative educational and social experience for children and adults with learning differences. If we all work together to support the growth of thinking interdependently, we can place our children on the path to be confident and cooperative learners and, one day, adults.