Coaching with a Trauma Informed SLP

I am a Trauma Informed SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) and a Certified Coach!  After working in the field of Speech Language Pathology and gaining lots of experience in a variety of settings I decided to get my Coaching Certification. 

Why Coaching? 

Coaching allows me to partner with professionals in a variety of settings where there is a desire for change.

 I consider Education to be a system that desires and requires change.  After all, each day we want children to “learn” new information and skills (learn = grow and change).

What is Trauma Informed?

So, what does Trauma Informed mean and how does it apply to the work we do as Speech Language Pathologists? 

The research is out! When children don’t experience safe and nurturing early attachment, they are more likely to have challenges with Attention and Memory and Engagement in learning and may exhibit significant behavior problems.  Many of the students I have worked with over the years, have experienced traumatic events and/or toxic stress.  Unfortunately, I was often not aware of exactly what was going on in the home… and I was trying to support the child with their challenges so they could process words, stories and concepts that they were needing to participate in the general education curriculum. Trauma Informed means you have personal experience understanding and exploring different types of trauma and how they impact the relationships, brain function, health and wellbeing.

 As a Speech Language Pathologist I have spent most of my career assessing, diagnosing and “treating” or “providing services” for children and their families. 

Fast forward to today when I realize children learn what they live, they develop at different rates and some are more aware of their strengths and challenges than others.   Their brain development is impacted by their wellbeing and early attachment. I can work on responding to their needs by adjusting the environment and working with the individuals that they communicate with the most.

Most recently working in a school with a large population of students and a caseload of 60 students, many of who are English Language Learners, I have felt the overwhelm of “how can I make an impact with so many children in such small amounts of time?”  I don’t know about you, but school scheduling can be very challenging.  Teachers have a lot of content to cover, activities to plan and the class has their own schedule to follow.  My school now has 3 recess periods, which in my mind is a good thing… but is means that I wind up having to take students out of their instructional time.

The Special Education System, where SLPs work in education, is reactive instead of proactive.  When there are concerns about a child, and a Response to Intervention (RtI) process is initiated and completed before the Special Education Team becomes involved in the process. Students are evaluated in order to become eligible for speech and language services when their testing shows significantly low scores.

I feel safe to say most of the students who have been evaluated on my current caseload have limited capacity in Attention and Short Term and Working Memory.  That means they are having challenges all day long with language and learning. 

Now it all makes sense!

 A child experiences a traumatic event or series of events which causes their nervous system to go into fight, flight or freeze Without being treated for the traumatic events or ongoing stress and bringing their neurobiological system back to “normal” or a state of well-being, the brain stays in fight flight or freeze, and they continue to have difficulty communicating or processing language.  Worse yet, the stress is compounded because they are in a school setting where they are expected to constantly make progress and learn new skills that build on prior knowledge.

By collaborating with the School Psychologist and the Special Education Teacher, and the General Education Teacher, SLPs will better understand how Attention, Memory and Language Skills interact with Reading, Writing and Math skill development, as well as higher level language processing needed for pragmatic language and comprehension of complex language. 

I get really excited when I think of the opportunities to support students with language and learning by being proactive.  By engaging ourselves in the curiosity of how the brain works and how to best present information to students so they can comprehend it and integrate it into their prior knowledge and experiences, means that they can make progress and they can become empowered learners, and not feel so frustrated and stressed in school.

Understanding who your clients/students are is so important. Take time to get familiar with your students by Knowing your Student’s Story” .  You can read more about that by clicking the link in the previous sentence.

With the support of a coach you are provided with an environment where you can reflect on your thoughts and practices and make decisions about change. Change can be uncomfortable, however, when paired with clarity it is empowering!

How can you make time to reflect on what is really working?

How many students are making progress in Special Education?

How do you talk to parents about Trauma?

You can join me for this upcoming group coaching event:

Let’s Talk about ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Speech and Language Skills

Or you can always contact me for a private coaching session or consultation with your school or organization.  Contact Jessie