Speech/Language Pathologists Help Children Improve Social Language Skills
For the past two years, COVID-19 has impacted how students learn and how parents expose their children to social situations. The pandemic necessitated school closures, online learning, limited playgroups and masked faces in our communities. As a result, children of all ages have suffered from social limitations that were deemed necessary to contain the spread of the virus.
Mekinna is a Speech/Language Pathologist at Mariposa Therapy Services and specializes in pre-school and school-aged social language development. She has witnessed first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on students’ social skills.
One of the effects she has seen is an uptick in parents requesting evaluations specifically in the area of social language skills. She states, “The demand for any kind of social interactions their child can receive has increased significantly. Even when an evaluation shows a child has no delays, parents are still interested in having them participate as peer mentors within a special education classroom.”
Another effect is parents are concerned about their children having missed opportunities to interact with same-aged peers and not having the ability to compare their child to other children in the same age group due to the lack of playgroups and other peer-based social situations. Additionally, many children only interacted with adults which is much different than interacting with peers.
Mekinna has also noticed that elementary-school-aged children without previous social limitations now demonstrate social skills deficits due to online schooling. This can result in behavioral issues in the classroom as well as difficulties in relating to peers and making friends. This is particularly true for young children because if their early schooling was virtual, they did not learn key concepts and rules of being in school such as sitting in a circle, taking turns sharing and problem-solving.
On her campus, Mekinna works with children with a variety of communication delays and has seen greater gains when students are in groups. She feels this has been especially beneficial since the pandemic as all children benefit from interacting in-person with peers their age.
These are tips she encourages parents to use at home to help children learn and improve social skills.
- Increase adult monitoring and supervision during playdates
- Encourage creative and constructive problem solving
- Be patient with behaviors when they arise and work through them with your child
- Ask children to recap their day to help them think through any social situations where they need help.
- Maintain open communication with your child’ teachers
- Request help from your child’s school if you are concerned about behavior and/or social development
- Working with a Speech/Language Pathologist can help your child with social language skills and problem-solving
Mekinna Murphy, our Speech/Language Pathologist, provides specialized help for children who need help developing or improving social language skills. Contact Mariposa Therapy today to request an appointment.