Communicating with Care
Speech pathologist helps teens find their voice
BETHANY KREK has been a speech-language pathologist for sixteen years. For many of those years, she worked in the public school system providing therapy to individuals up to age eighteen. Krek relocated to the Wilmington area two years ago and was ready for a career change. She wanted to give her clients additional attention – more than what could be accomplished in a school setting. She founded Anchor Therapy Services in July.
“I come from a long line of talkers,” Krek says with a laugh. “I had some speech challenges in kindergarten and first grade,” she adds. While in college at Towson University, she took a public speaking class and really liked it. “I have an aunt who is an occupational therapist and she suggested shadowing some speech therapists,” Krek says.
She found her place in helping people have a voice and learning how to better communicate.
“Speech therapy is a broad field,” Krek explains. “You can work with babies in the neonatal intensive care unit to help them learn how to suck and swallow or you can work with stroke and traumatic brain injury patients in a skilled nursing facility. My heart is working with children.”
While Krek specializes in and offers all speech therapy services ranging from fluency (stuttering) and articulation therapy to assisted technology, she has seen a need for children with social skills gaps and disorders. “Some have diagnoses such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, or social anxiety, but I’ve seen it in children who don’t have a diagnosis,” she says. “Increased technology use has a huge impact on how children communicate with each other. COVID didn’t help either, because they didn’t have to be social for quite some time,” she says.
Krek explains that our words account for a small percentage of what we say. The rest lies in our body language, our eyes, and our tone of voice. Some children don’t know how to read these cues and respond appropriately. So, she created social skills groups to provide coaching for kids, teens, and families. Using video modeling, games, and role playing, participants learn how to understand and respond in a variety of social settings. “Teenagers, especially those who like video games, need opportunities for face-to-face interactions,” Krek says. “They talk to their online friends differently than in person. I teach them how to keep a conversation going and how to ask follow-up questions so they can learn specific ways to change their interactions and have positive communication skills.”
She indicates that if children are struggling, they probably have had negative experiences that are driving their behavior. “It’s a defense mechanism. Assessments reveal that they are responding in ways that are off-putting, but they don’t know why or how to fix it. Or that they even do it,” she says. “It’s important to children to know we are all uncomfortable with social situations and it’s not abnormal. I take therapy out of the therapy setting when it comes to social skills.”
To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com
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