We’ve all just lived through the annual ritual of back to school. While many students were busy picking out their first-day outfits and comparing schedules with friends, others faced the return to school with trepidation. For families of children with learning and emotional disabilities, typical back-to-school worries seem like luxuries, as the return to school can be fraught with anxiety. This is true for many students with speech or language delays, like Kayla.
Kayla has long self-identified as a “bad reader,” and consistently blamed herself for her performance in school. Each year she would start a new grade with fear, having internalized the misconception that she would never succeed in school. Kayla’s low self-esteem kept her from participating in class and contributed to difficulty in her social life. When asked about her peers, she would say things like “they hate me” or “I have no friends.”
Last year, Kayla worked with a CHAT SLP for language and literacy, who also supported her with pep talks and affirming feedback. They took time to work with Kayla on building up her foundational skills and helped her to accept that her challenges were not her “fault.” Our SLP went beyond a traditional treatment plan and goals to help Kayla accept that her struggles were not a personal shortcoming, but a challenge she could work through.
After a full year working together, Kayla no longer dreaded this year’s return to school. She now has growing confidence in class, raises her hand to answer questions, and even reads out loud! She is much slower to self-deprecate and is an increasingly active participant in school social activities.
If you relate to Kayla’s story, we are here to help. The return to school does not have to be as overwhelming as it often is for students with communication disorders. Sometimes consistent affirmation contributes as much as learned skills to improving a child’s life.