Children’s Program Blog

March 2018

The Children’s Program sets itself apart by offering a multidisciplinary approach to care and strives to meet the needs of our clients under one roof. To this end, we added speech-language services last year. Christine Moore, M.S., CC-SLP, leads the charge and offers speech-language evaluation, therapy and consultation AND she is on the same insurance panels as our other clinicians. For the uninitiated, speech-language clinicians can help with social skills, writing organization and picky eating? Read on…

Hi, Christine. Why did you become a speech-language pathologist?

I came to the speech-language field as a second career. I majored in fine arts in undergrad and went into furniture sales and then interior design. I was originally introduced to the field of speech-language pathology through accessing cognitive rehabilitation services for someone in my family. But it didn’t occur to me to pursue it as a career until a career counselor suggested I check it out. I was really tired of selling “stuff” and I was looking for something challenging and varied where I could develop mastery and improve people’s lives. Pediatric speech-language pathology is all of that—mixed with a healthy dose of play.

For many, speech-language services often focus on the “speech” part. But tell us more about the language portion of your work?

Speech-language pathology often conjures the idea of an elementary age kid who can’t pronounce S or R, but that is a small part of what we do. The field of Speech-Language pathology is quite broad and encompasses all aspects of effective communication- speaking, listening, reading, writing, and then putting it all together in context. It’s not just about being able to say sounds correctly or put together grammatically correct sentences.  It’s also about making predictions and inferences, reading social cues, taking into account what the listener knows and providing the right amount of background information when telling a story. For young kids, communication can be embedded in play. We may need to build skills for pretending, taking turns, and verbal and nonverbal negotiations.

 We have a multi-disciplinary approach at Children’s Program. How do speech-language pathologists compliment Child Psychologists and Developmental & Behavioral Pediatricians, and vice-versa?

We like to say that “kids do well if they can.” When a language or communication skills deficit is getting in the way it can lead to social or behavioral challenges or difficulty being successful at school.  As a team we work together to figure out what is getting in the way of a kid’s success.  When it’s a language or communication deficit, my job is to come up with a plan to build the skills needed to be successful. We can also help families understand how to provide the supports kids need to do well as we are building those skills.  (*The phrase “kids do well if they can” is borrowed from Ross Greene’s Collaborative and Proactive Solutions model. Read more at livesinthebalance.org)

Do you have any SLP history trivia to share?

Did you know that speech language pathologist can also work with kids who are picky and restricted eaters? Feeding is a complex skill. Sometimes it has to do with skills deficits in using the mechanism of the mouth (jaw, teeth and tongue) to efficiently chew and swallow. Often, parents think picky eating is based in a behavior issue, and over time it can come to look that way, but it may start as an underlying issue with oral motor skills, and as food textures advance, restrictive eating patterns can develop.

 If you were not working as a SLP, what would you be doing?

If I could create my dream job, I would be a matchmaker for families and rescue dogs. I have a dog named Cooper, a Border collie and Basenji mix—he’d be my assistant.

 

March 2017

As we continue to meet the needs of our clients and community, we recently joined forces with Jennifer Simon-Thomas, Ph.D. Although new to the Children’s Program, Simon-Thomas brings more than 20 years of clinical experience in therapy, evaluation, neuropsychology and consultation with school systems and medical providers. She’s often smiling, so we want to know her secret.

When you’re not at the Children’s Program, where will we find you?

Outside! It’s one of the reasons why I love Portland, and I loved living in Montana – beautiful outdoors. In the past, I led wilderness trips, and did wilderness therapy. It was amazing to get kids away from their day-to-day routines, and it seemed like the more they got into the work, and got their hands dirty, the closer they got to their truer selves.

Let’s keep it real. What is it that you most dislike?

Mean people and bad food.

What is one misconception about psychologists you’d like to clear up?

You don’t have to have “serious” problems to benefit from seeing a psychologist. In fact, the world would be a better place if more people treated their mental and physical health as important parts of self-care.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My Mom, my husband and my brother.

Sounds like a great family. Who is Simon and who is Thomas?

My father is Dutch and his ancestors were French Huguenots. There were two families – the Simons and the Thomas’. The Simon’s father died and the Thomas’ father adopted their son. On Thomas’ deathbed, his adopted son said he would take the two names as his own. The name was not hyphenated until my Dad immigrated to the US from Holland.

Talk about a turn of events. If you were not a psychologist, what would your profession be?

A neurosurgeon.

In parting, what’s your motto?

I do my best.

 

December 2016

Welcome to our new Blog! Current articles and interviews with our clinicians and staff will be posted periodically. For the holidays here is an article about the holiday season and an interview with Jeff Sosne:

TIS THE SEASON…..

snowflakes-winter-background1Tis the season, to be…..Jolly? Busy? Overwhelmed? Dare we say, sad, anxious, disappointed? Notwithstanding the joy and excitement of the holiday season, it is important to emphasize that with the possibility for joy, connection, and love comes the other side of the coin: sadness, isolation and discontent.

With the arrival of the December holidays, it is important to keep in mind that this time of year often brings a mixed bag of experiences. Your child didn’t get the toy he wanted? You have to spend time with unpleasant family members? You are stressed about the financial burdens of celebrating? You are experiencing the pain of celebrating without a loved one? You are feeling overwhelmed by the lack of structure and the significant amount of long school-free days? There are so many aspects of this time of year that can be unsettling for children and adults.

How do we enter this season of joy and happiness with an awareness that it may be more difficult? It may be helpful to go in with mental preparation for the excitement- and challenges– that lay ahead. You may find that through doing this you are able to create plans to help navigate the more difficult issues. Take a moment to think through an upcoming stressful situation and plan on how to approach it skillfully, and identifying helpful strategies to get through whatever is coming your way.

Or, it may help knowing that some things may remain difficult, and there is little you can do about it. That is okay too. Take a moment, notice the feelings that arise, and allow them to be. Try to smile at them good-humouredly and invite them to the holiday festivities (just keep them on a leash!). You may even want to try giving reoccurring difficult thoughts or feelings a humorous name that makes you giggle. Approaching these moments with honesty and compassion, and allowing them to just be, may make these days richer and more meaningful for you and your family.

What’s more, allowing your children to watch you deal with difficult feelings that come up even in joyous times models for them the truth that nothing is ever black and white. Celebrations and joy may (and often do) come with tag along monster friends that feel more uncomfortable, but by allowing all these feelings in, by noticing them, watching them, and perhaps allowing them to exist without judgement, provide great lessons for your children and hopefully allow them to embrace complicated feelings and situations themselves.

Practical Tip: How to be present and reacquaint yourself as a human “being” rather than a human “doing”:

In a quiet space, take a few moments to pay attention to your breathing. Don’t manipulate your breath, just notice it and watch it as you inhale and exhale, as if you are discovering something for the first time. It may be helpful to choose a place on your body where you feel your breath more vividly, such as the rise and fall of your abdomen, or the back of your throat or the tips of your nostrils. See if you can watch and notice your breathing as it goes in and out, gently guiding your attention back to the breath as your mind wanders (as it will!). When you are done, take one more brief moment to pay attention to how you are feeling after doing this brief mindfulness exercise. What feelings arose? What did you notice your mind telling you? How did it feel to bring yourself back to the present, over and over again?

 

Staff Interview with Dr. Jeff Sosne:

j-and-c

For more than 40 years, Jeff Sosne has worked with families as a clinical psychologist, educator, author and Clinic Director of the Children’s Program. Today he is widely recognized as a leading authority on ADHD. Here, Dr. Sosne reflects on the life of pets, parenting advice and the future of the Children’s Program.

 

 

What is your current state of mind?

Too busy.

Then we’ll make this quick. How did you change from Bachelors in Economics to a Doctorate in Psychology?

In college I signed up for the Big Brother Program – how I got there is another story – but I was assigned to a young boy with Autism. We started working together and I realized the enjoyment I received from helping children. That changed my trajectory forever.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I’ve been called stubborn, and for the life of me, I don’t know why people would say that.

What are the greatest loves of your life?

Number one is my family. Number two is the clinic. Number three is our pets. Number four is my trading card collection. (A small fraction of which graces the walls of the clinic)

If you could be reincarnated, how would you come back?

As one of my wife’s pets. Have you met Charlie Rose? (The clinic’s therapy dog extraordinaire) He has the perfect life.

reindeercharlieWhich brings me to, why did you name your dog Charlie Rose?

He was given the name Hannity at birth, which did not appeal to my wife and me. So we picked someone we admire and watch on PBS – Charlie Rose. He’s a legend.

 

As a freebie, can you share a piece of parenting advice?

I wish I would have told my younger self, don’t get so stressed out at things that will not matter down the road. Life is a long journey and things have a way of working out.

What do you like most about being a child psychologist?

I like the people I work with. I enjoy the opportunity to share families’ experiences, and then take what I learn and share it with other families. I’m continually reading and thinking about ways to help children; I take the information and present it to parents in a usable way.

What’s next for the Children’s Program?

I’m interested in using media and technology to broaden the way we help children and families. We have developed education software, materials for parents and teachers, and a variety of new classes.