TEMPLE, TX — Communication is something most of us begin to learn at a very early age, but that education was changed due to quarantine. Now with restrictions being abruptly lifted, some children may have some difficulty transitioning back into normal life.
Elsie Barnes began bringing her son to see speech therapist Jason Miller when he was just 2-years-old. Over the years, she's seen tremendous progress in regards to her son's speech delay, but noticed a shift in his behavior when lockdown began.
“So, our son is a very happy-go-lucky kid, and the fact that we weren't going anywhere or doing anything, he felt locked down and you can tell in his... in his attitude,” Barnes said.
At just 3-years-old, Barnes says her son was feeling the repercussions of COVID-19 restrictions. Seeing her son struggle lead her to reach out to Jason Miller, who was already her son's speech pathologist. She says in her gut, she knew something was off.
“Moms have this intuition, we know our kiddos. When they're feeling their best and when they're not feeling so great," Barnes said.
“Whenever your child just isn't being themselves and it is prolonged, that's when it's time to start looking for outside professional help,” said Miller, owner of CenTex Rehab in Temple.
Working with hundreds of kids virtually and now some in-person, Miller says he’s seen challenges with younger kids expressing their feelings, and it’s no different with the teens.
“We're seeing some of the older kids have a tougher time adjusting to the socialization, going from kind of a solid lockdown to releasing things because they've been away from their friends so much and it's been harder on the older kids.” Miller said.
The speech therapist advises parents to pay close attention to their kids, especially as things continue to shift regarding restrictions.
“I think patience is the key. We don't want to just throw them back into everything and all of a sudden pretend that everything is normal. The kids have been through something as adults have been through something. It's been hard on everybody," said Miller.
After hours of work and sessions with Miller, Barnes says she's seen a tremendous improvement with her son's ability to communicate, despite outside stressors. Barnes encourages other parents not to hesitate to reach out for help.
“He can express, 'Mommy I'm upset. Mommy I'm sad or I don’t feel good,' so it’s made a big difference,” said Barnes.
Miller says being mindful of a child’s social cues, no matter their age, can give you a better look into what's going on in their head.
In his blog post, Miller takes a deeper dive on how the lockdown could have affected your child's social skills. To read the full post, click here.