Faith in Your Clients

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I remember many years ago when I worked for a public school district and I was touching base with the teacher about one of her students. I asked her if she had any insight about the child’s motivators — things I could use to motivate him in therapy.

The next few words out of her mouth really made an impact on me forever. She said, “Johnny? Don’t even bother. He is not too smart and he will probably end up being a truck driver or something.”

Did I just hear those words out of her mouth, I thought to myself.

A teacher is supposed to be a motivator, a role model, a person who believes in their students and their ability to learn. In this case, she was saying don’t even bother to teach him because any effort on him was useless.

I could have been influenced by this “seasoned” teacher, as I was just starting my career and trying to find my way. But no, from such a negative and out-of-the-blue comment came the making of my own ideas about learning.

Helping a child succeed requires believing in their potential to improve. If you don’t, they will not learn. When you doubt, they will not improve. If you give up, then so will they.

But the biggest point is when we really feel like throwing in the towel on a kiddo, we need to push through those doubts and believe in them and ourselves so much that we seek to find another perspective or someone else’s opinion on what to try next but we should always continue to be positive and committed to that child.

I hear often, “I just don’t know what to do next. Nothing’s working.” When I hear this, I usually advise the therapist to look at their own beliefs, try to become the child’s best friend, and start over.

We can always learn something new. We can always gain another tool for our tool box. But personally I believe in children, their desire to learn and, most importantly, their right to communicate.

If you believe you can help the child, you are right. And if you believe you can’t, you are also right.

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About Author

Jasna Cowan, MS, CCC-SLP
Jasna Cowan, MS, CCC-SLP

Jasna Cowan, MS, CCC-SLP, is a bilingual speech-language pathologist and the Director and Founder of Speech Goals Speech Therapy, Inc. She is licensed by the state of California and Certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). Her certifications include a Hanen Certification, and Early Start Denver Method. Cowan has been working as a speech language pathologist for 12 years, having received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from San Francisco State University. In her career, she has gained valuable experience working for the Pacifica School District as an employee and then as a contract consultant for litigious cases. She has also spent a significant portion of her career at the Pine Hill School and the Newton Program for children with high functioning Autism. Her expertise includes speech and language delay and disorders including bilingualism, children with autism spectrum, and articulation and phonological delays and disorders with speech sounds. Her accomplishments include creating the first Mommy and Me sign language class at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. Cowan currently serves as President of Speech ABCs, a non-profit that assists families in need of speech and language services and related services from her main offices in South San Francisco. Additionally, she consults for the Child Care Coordinating Council (4C’s) of San Mateo. Cowan also sits on a multidisciplinary team at Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC) in San Mateo, CA for whom she also serves as a therapy provider forGGRC’s Early Intervention Speech Pathologist in Spanish and English. As a trusted GGRC service partner, she provides both bilingual assessments and therapy for young children, ages 0-3. In conjunction with this service, she also conducts parent coaching courses on speech and language facilitation at Good Samaritan Resource Center of the Mission District in San Francisco

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