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Masks can cause a great deal of stress for parents – it’s one more thing to remember before getting out the door in the morning, can be a source of power struggles, and perhaps the most daunting, the fear that months spent without seeing full faces will impede their child’s development. 

Today I am joined by speech-language pathologist and founder of Let’s Gab Speech, Becky Birkenfeld. Becky will answer all our burning questions about mask wearing and suggest some actionable and simple strategies parents can start implementing to encourage social, emotional and language development with their child.


Dr. Sarah (00:00):

Our brains are built to fill in the gaps. And I think our kids are able in a lot of ways to fill in the gaps that are left by mask, we can facilitate compensating for that and helping their brains fill in the gaps more easily.

Dr. Sarah (00:21):

When we’re faced with something new and unknown. It can cause us to feel a real intense amount of anxiety and for everyone, but really particularly parents, this pandemic has brought with it, inconceivable challenges and situations we couldn’t have even imagined. So naturally a rise in anxiety follows. One of the sources of concern I’m hearing from parents is their fear that mask wearing is going to negatively affect their child. Things like, will it delay their speech and language development? Will it change the way they relate to their peers? And how can adults communicate effectively to young children when half of their faces covered? To help answer these questions, I’ve invited licensed speech and language pathologist and founder of Let’s Gab Speech, Becky Birkenfeld onto the podcast. Becky will answer all of our burning questions about mask wearing and suggest some actionable and simple strategies that we can try with our children to help them foster successful communication skills even if they’re in a mask for a lot of their day. Now, these are particularly important while mask wearing is a big part of our daily life. But the strategies that Becky suggests in this episode really are useful for helping your child develop their language skills pandemic or no. So I’m really excited to introduce to the podcast, Becky Birkenfeld.

Dr. Sarah (01:44):

Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast, I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting, voice confidence, and calm. This is Securely Attached.

Dr. Sarah (02:15):

Hi everybody. I’m so excited today to introduce you to our lovely guest, pediatric speech and language pathologist and feeding specialists, Becky Birkenfeld. We know each other from Union Square Play and just being kind of in this general parenting world. And you were like the first person I thought of to reach out to when I got this question from a parent about all of this mask wearing that we’re seeing as a result of COVID, whether it’s our children in masks or children being around a lot of masked adults, how that’s going to affect their speech development, their language development, some of their psychosocial development. And so I really wanted to get you on to ask you this questions. Before I let you even answer that, I just want to let you say hi and share a little bit about yourself and how you got into this work and what you’re seeing kind of in this, in this field.

Becky (03:12):

Sure. So hi everybody. I’m Becky Birkenfeld. Thank you, Dr. Bren for having me here. I am so excited. I think you are just so smart and so amazing and I’ve come to you with my own, you know mom questions and you always have a very articulate and smart answer for me, and I just really appreciate that and respect you for that. So I’m just so excited that you thought of me to even do this with you. But yeah, so I am a pediatric speech language pathologist. I also work with a lot of students on picky eating and overall just feeding therapy, I guess, I dunno it was always in the cards for me to work with children. And I didn’t know if I wanted to be a teacher or what, but I spoke to a family friend one day and she said, you know, I think you would really enjoy being a speech pathologist.

Becky (04:01):

And so the more research I did, I said, you know what, this is the job for me. And there is nothing that makes me happier than when I get a non-verbal toddler. And they start talking within, you know, a couple of days, a few sessions, a few weeks. That to me is like the best feeling in the world. As a mom, too, you know, I just love seeing the joy on parents’ faces when their kids make these, even the tiniest of changes is still a huge change when you’re providing therapy for little ones. And so, you know, as far as the mask wearing it’s, it’s definitely a big question. You know, I mean, for me it gets, it makes getting out the door in the morning harder, you know, when we’re, when we’re rushing to get to school on time, I’m like, ah, the masks, where are the masks?

Becky (04:52):

I have to make sure I have a clean one. I have to make sure I have two clean ones for the kids. Making sure I have ones that fit appropriately. You know, it’s, it’s a big source of anxiety for everybody right now and for different reasons you know, professionally, I, I didn’t really work much throughout the pandemic because well, because of the masks for my job, you know, I, I really only see private students. I’m not in a school or anything. So for me, I felt like if I went back to work, there had to be some kind of option. And that’s when I actually found the clear masks. And I said, I wouldn’t be able to do my job without the clear mask. So that’s one of my, one of my biggest things is really that clear mask for me, I feel is so important and I, as a bigger picture.

Dr. Sarah (05:46):

Yeah. And I think that you bring up a very good point, which is, you know, your, when you’re working with kiddos, you are specifically targeting an identified problem, right? You are working with a child who has an identified issue around language development. That probably existed independent of the presence of masks in their life. Right. But in order to treat that independent of COVID issue during COVID being able to see your face, your affect, your mouth shapes, that you’re making, that’s a big deal for the work that you do. I feel like the question is getting blurry for parents because, and I think, you know, it, you’re making me think of kind of an, of a, of a murky comparison, right? Because most parents are asking the question, what is the impact of mask wearing on my child? Either whether my child’s in a mask all day, or they’re around adults who are in masks all day, what impact is that going to have on their language development, which is different than if my child has an identified speech and language issue, how do I treat that with a mask on?

Becky (07:08):

Two very different things? Right. So the first question that you posed is kind of just an overall any kid, right? Neuro-Typical somebody who has some kind of challenges, developmental challenges. You know, it doesn’t matter who we’re talking about. We’re just talking about all kids in general. You know, and there’s a lot that comes with that. So for me, in particular, I find, you know, when I wear a mask half the time, I forget that I’m wearing it besides the fact that, you know, if I’m running around and I get a little out of breath, besides that, I sometimes just forget that I’m wearing it. So, yes, I feel like, you know, it can be cumbersome for little ones to wear it, but maybe after a certain point, maybe they kind of get used to it as they go that, you know, I’m thinking of toddlers who are in school or daycare, they probably kind of get used to it throughout the day. So you know, and also they probably have breaks right now while the weather’s still nice they’re probably going outside a lot. They have some time with it off during snack and lunch, I’m sure they get a little bit of time where they’re not wearing it. So as far as them wearing the mask themselves, me personally, I find that there’s probably not that big of an impact happening. Would you agree with that?

Dr. Sarah (08:28):

Yeah, I do. I think sometimes it ends up being more about the power struggles, but it’s like, how do I get my kid to put the mask on and tolerate keeping it on? And that could be more of a, sort of a stress point, but I think once we’ve navigated past that point and the kids found his or her groove with wearing the mask, they kind of seem to forget that it’s on. And obviously that’s not the same that that’s not necessarily true for kids who have like sensory sensitivities then wearing masks can be a really big challenge for them. And that’s hard and we have to figure out ways to kind of compensate. There are some masks I’ve seen out there that are like specifically designed for sensory sensitivities that have like outside seams. And I don’t remember, I’ve got to try to figure out where I saw that. And maybe we could try to link that in the show notes.

Becky (09:16):

Yeah. So one of my students right now has it, and it’s fantastic. The brand is Rafi Nova.

Dr. Sarah (09:22):


Becky (09:23):

Yeah. It’s, it’s really a great first for one reason in particular that I really like. So for my girls, I was buying the Joah Love masks, and I find, I found that they fit their faces really well. But one of my kids is a sensory seeker who would chew on it all day. She chewed a hole through it. So they kind of collapsed in that’s, you know, it’s soaking wet, it’s uncomfortable. It gets into your mouth. So the Rafi Nova one, on the other hand has a little bit more of a structured body. I don’t know how to, it’s more structured. So it’s almost like a bubble, so it doesn’t collapse and it doesn’t get in the way of their lips talking. You know, so they’re not, I’m assuming not making as much contact with the actual mask itself.

Dr. Sarah (10:13):

Which I also imagined might help them forget that they’re wearing it more easily.

Becky (10:17):

Exactly. And you know, the little boy who I actually happen to be working with who has it right now, one of the biggest challenges was for him to actually put it on. Right. So that whole sensory experience was very anxiety provoking for him. And we were able to work through that, you know, and in sequential steps kind of once he got it on, now he will wear it when he goes out when he’s in school. So sometimes it’s kind of just crossing that line a little bit and getting them comfortable with actually wearing that mask. And then once you’ve passed it, then again, you know, they seem to be becoming more comfortable with it.

Dr. Sarah (10:57):

Yeah. One little thing that worked really well with my kids was having them play around with masks and put them on their bigger stuffed animals. Because I think it helps them to just gain some mastery and feel more confident around masks, but it also that dexterity of like physically practicing putting it on. And I think it helps with their, at least my older one, he’s four, almost four. And he can, he can get it behind his ears by himself. And I think that makes him feel more inclined to wear it. Cause he feels kind of like a big kid who can do this by himself.

Becky (11:30):

Isn’t it so crazy how that’s now become like a developmental milestone, like i can pull my pants up after I go to the bathroom and I can put my own mask on now.

Dr. Sarah (11:39):

I know it’s wild times.

Becky (11:42):

It’s really crazy. And you know, now I’m even seeing it become integrated in their pretend play. Like, you know, they’ll pretend, oh, I’m going to the supermarket and they’ll get their little purse and the little shopping cart. Gotta get my mask. And you know, my daughter will pretend to put a mask on.

Dr. Sarah (11:59):

I know, you know, what’s really funny. When I first started posting on Instagram, it was like right at the very beginning of the pandemic. And one of the first things I posted was was something about what my son was doing and what he was drawing. And he was like, it’s a mask. And at the time I posted it, I was like, my little baby is playing about masks. Like what, like mind blown. Like, and now it’s like, of course that’s like totally part of their life, but it’s just an interesting, they’re very adaptive. And frankly there is somewhat of a developmental milestones flavor to it, which is a good thing. I think it can help them feel really confident and competent because this is not going away anytime soon mask wearing, you know, the reality is is that whether we liked it or not, this is, COVID is it’s sticking around in ways that we just did not anticipate. And I think that none of us thought that two years into it, we’d be like, okay, we’re still dealing with this, but we are. And we don’t really know where, where the end of the mask wearing certainly is going to be. So we, we it’s good that our kids are adaptive.

Dr. Sarah (13:14):

I want to jump back to this idea though, of like, okay, so we talked a little bit about how our kids, like, what are the struggles and barriers for them wearing masks. But I also think a big concern is our kids. You know, one of the ways that we learn language is by watching the faces of the people around us and looking at how they make the shapes of the sounds with their mouth and what kinds of facial changes are happening when people are speaking. And so when kids are, you know, around adults or other children who are masked, they’re missing a lot of this visual input and even some auditory input because masks kind of muffle the sound and make it harder to hear articulations. So like what, as, as you know someone in this particular field, working with kids in this way, what are you seeing? Are you seeing that masks wearing in general is, is having an effect on child child’s language and language development and other types of, you know, language related skills?

Becky (14:25):

So, you know, it’s tricky because so ASHA, the Association of Speech and Hearing, they put out a statement recently and they said, we just don’t know. We just don’t know yet. There isn’t enough research yet at this point. There’s no evidence that shows that there will be delays. You know, we just, it’s very much up in the air right now. So I think a lot of, you know, as clinicians, we are relying on our experience, our observations, you know, really just what we know as far as the basis of language learning. And we’re really just going off that. Have I seen an increase in language delays? I mean, in my practice, no. What, you know, what I’m seeing is, you know, if I’m getting a phone call to, to evaluate a student, a child language, it’s because like you mentioned earlier, there, there is some kind of pre-existing language delay or cognitive delay already there.

Becky (15:35):

Right. And then when I’m looking at language delay, it’s not just language. I’m looking at the whole child. I’m looking at their physical milestones, their birth history, their, you know, when did they sit up? When did they roll over? When did they walk? I’m looking at everything. And a lot of times, you know, the language may be delayed. But so is everything else. So, you know, I’m, I don’t see the masks as creating, I mean, the masks are not going to create a delay per se in my experience, right? It’s like, if there’s something there, I mean, we’re going to address that. And the masks are, the masks are getting in the way. The masks are definitely not making it better. Right. It’s more of an obstacle that we’re going to have to work around. So that’s where the clear masks for me come in. Right. If you, basically, if it’s a kid who’s going to be getting speech therapy or occupational therapy, they’re going to be getting it anyway regardless of masks or not.

Dr. Sarah (16:38):

Well, that’s super reassuring to hear. I mean, I think, and I think it’s, it makes sense that parents are asking these questions that they’re feeling anxious about this because there’s this big new thing. And it logically could be seen as something that could get in the way. But I think it’s helpful. Kind of what you’re saying. What I’m hearing you say is that language does not develop in isolation and language delays tend not to be a siloed issue. That they’re usually tied to more complicated and more sort of holistic issues that are, that are, maybe we’re seeing it come out in language. And that’s what we’re noticing. But in reality, it’s got its roots in something kind of more neurological.

Becky (17:24):

Potentially, right. You know, I look at a child’s play skills. I look at, I look at everything that a child is doing. Not just whether they’re talking. You know, but then on the flip side, if you have, let’s say a neuro-typical child who you know, ideally should be really quick at putting language cues together and really picking up on all the skills that they need to be picking up on. Really they should be, even though they’re around people who are wearing masks constantly, they should be able to fill in those blanks. Right. They should be, they should have the skills to really work around. So as far as language goes you no language is an intermodal event. So it’s audio, you’re listening and you’re also seeing right. It’s visual and it’s auditory. So one thing that you and I talked about once is, you know, if, if let’s say you’re an educated or an educator or a parent, and you’re wearing a mask around children needing to be more animated, maybe talk with your eyes and your eyebrows, be more expressive, use your hands, do you know, be more excitable, maybe more exciting and get those kids really understanding the page that you’re on.

Becky (18:45):

What they’re missing a lot of is, our affect that our emotional states. You know, sometimes let’s say if a child, if you’re trying to get a child to imitate, “O” for open, you know, maybe even wearing a mask, maybe I’ll do this with my mouth. Do “O” make an “O” with your lips. You know, we’re giving them those language cues and the physical and visual cues. You know I’m wearing a mask, you know, really just being very explicit about what you want to get ahead of them.

Dr. Sarah (19:18):

Yeah. And I think even, even things like getting closer to them when you’re talking to them to offset some of the muffling or articulate more like really kind of extend or exaggerate your articulation so they can hear those subtle, you know, word like the differences in the words.

Becky (19:41):

You know, when I wear the clear mask, I mean, it definitely dampens the sound. I have to take deep breaths. I have to really project. You know, they’re not, they’re not foolproof. I mean, they get foggy. I have to spray it with an anti fog spray before I put it on. You know, there, there could be light reflecting off the front of it, and maybe they’re not getting the full visual experience. There, I mean there’s a lot that could go into it. But for me, I find that that’s a better option than a completely opaque mask, you know?

Dr. Sarah (20:17):

Right. But it also sounds like in your line of work, especially, that’s kind of like critical, but I don’t know that every parent needs to go out and buy a suite of clear masks, because I think that what I’m hearing you say, and kind of what I’m picking up from some of the re some of the limited research that’s out there is that, you know, kids brains fill in the blanks. I mean, think about our brains. Like when we are talking to people with masks, we sort of eventually kind of stop seeing the mask. Like we just kind of, our brain just kind of fills in the blanks. And I feel like that happened a lot when we switched to zoom. Like, I mean, think about how many times you’ve been on a zoom call and after a moment or two, you have, you’re no longer, you’re not, you’re not sitting there consciously being like, I’m talking to a computer screen right now.

Dr. Sarah (21:17):

You feel like you’re talking to the person because your brain just does this work to fill in the sensory cues that are missing. And I, on our kids’ brains do that too.

Becky (21:32):


Dr. Sarah (21:34):

Like it’s like those, those, what does that test where, like, you have the words and it’s like the first word, the first letter and the last letter stayed the same, but the inside the letters in between are all jumbled, but you’re, if you read a page of words like that, you can still read it almost fluently. Like our brains are built to fill in the gaps. And I think our kids are able in a lot of ways to fill in the gaps that are left by masks, we can facilitate compensating for that and helping their brains fill in the gaps more easily.

Becky (22:05):


Dr. Sarah (22:06):

And I think you’re working with kids probably whose minds are not as good at filling in the gaps. And so you need fewer gaps to fill. So you, that clear mask is going to be really helpful for you.

Becky (22:19):

Absolutely. Yeah. It’s like, if you think about, you know, like if I’m wearing a mask and let’s say I’m going to pick up my kids at school and I’m still in the parking lot and they’re in the playground and they see me through the fence, they know it’s me. They remember what my outfit was that morning. And even if I change, my kids are still gonna know my gait, my hair, my body shape my height. They’re still gonna know that it’s me. Right. And same thing, similar if we wear giant sunglasses, they’re still going to know that it’s us. Right. So there’s that piece. But you know, there’s still that concern of you know, babies needs to see your whole face to learn language. They need to see how the mouth moves. You know early language learners really do need to see your mouth. That’s one of the first things that I do with a little one who is maybe, you know, a late talker when I’m trying to elicit some kind of babble, you know just sounds. You know I don’t start trying to get words out of them. You know, and it might, I might do some oral play.

Becky (23:27):

So let’s say if there’s a child who is in daycare or in school and they are getting a lot of mask face time. You want to really try to offset that, maybe when they get home. And even if you have a half or an hour before bedtime, you know, try to make the most of that hour. I think one of the biggest complaints with the ASHA statement, you know, everyone was really upset because ASHA said, try to make the most of, you know, unmask time when you get home. But every working parent is like, well, what about us? So my solution to that is really, you now, even if have 10, everybody’s got some, even a small amount of time. Right. Really get on their level, be eye-to-eye with them. You know, and really try to consciously talk to them, play with them, you know, very, you know, what’s the word I’m looking for in a very specific…

Dr. Sarah (24:34):


Becky (24:36):

Intentional, that’s the word. In an intentional way. You know, quality over quantity.

Dr. Sarah (24:43):

Yeah. And I think it’s, I think you bring up a really good point, which is like, in this quality over quantity time, like these can be very brief moments, but think about how many times we might be out with our kids and we’re talking to them kind of in parallel talk, right? Like I’m, you know, I’m, I’m walking next to you and talking, this might be an opportunity to kind of, if I know my kid has been around masks all day long to really kind of make an effort to do intentional, face-to-face talking. So like, I might be cooking dinner and my kid is standing next to me and they’re, you know, doing something, I might take a beat and stop making dinner for a second. And instead of answering them while I’m cutting up the veggies, I actually get down on the floor and answer them to their face. Like these are, this could be 10 seconds of our time, but just that shift of, instead of, you know, facing away from them, doing whatever I might normally do and giving them my response, get down, look them in the face and just really talk to them for even a moment. Those are like quick and easy ways to increase FaceTime with our kids. And it really doesn’t interrupt much at all. And it’s going to fill our kids up who doesn’t like having an answer, you know, so lovingly delivered straight to your face.

Becky (26:07):

Yeah. Yeah. And even like playing with toys that are specifically geared towards, you know, a face Like Mr. Potato Head or having like a little puppet, you know, first thing that comes to mind is this like Cookie Monster, you know, like really having him talk and do silly things with his mouth and see him eat a cookie or a toy. And you know, just really focusing on the mouth. Hey, it’s Cookie’s mouth, look at my mouth, I’m gonna do that too, ahhh. You know, having them really making it playful and silly, but you might not even need to do that because of their resiliency and because of this, their instinct to pick up on all of these things.

Dr. Sarah (26:54):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, even like there are other times, I’m trying to think of other times that like kids, or, you know, even kids who are masked all day long at school or at daycare like opportunities even to like get on a FaceTime with grandma and grandpa and have them do something like, you know, if you’re just building in more time for people to be speaking to our children without masks, even other safe ways.

Becky (27:31):

Like, you know, while you’re making dinner. I mean, FaceTime in general with toddlers, I think, I think everyone was just so burned out and just really having a hard time. But for me, I find the easiest time to put my kids in front of a phone or a computer and do Facetime is really when they’re sitting at the table, they’re not in the middle of doing whatever fun activity it is. You know, they’re not playing with their toys. They’re sitting, they’re not so engaged in play and you can put your phone or put your laptop in front of them. And really, I think prepping grandma and grandpa saying like, listen, let’s not put the pressure on them. Let’s not ask them a million questions, but rather, almost have it like them watch the grandma and grandpa show. You know, have their own grandpa read a book, have them order them on Amazon prime, like a set of puppets, figuring something like do something silly.

Becky (28:33):

So the kids can kind of be engaged, but you don’t have to have that back and forth because that’s so much pressure on them. And that’s when they kind of collapse. And then you get all anxious and know, oh my God, they’re not talking to her grandma and grandpa, this is so embarrassing and really frustration. You know, but just to take that pressure off of everybody and just getting grandma and grandpa that pep talk kind of beforehand I think would be really helpful. And that way you’re killing several birds with one stone, you know, they’re getting their grandma and grandpa time, grandparents are getting their grandchild time. You can cook dinner for a few minutes and they get to see a maskless face, right. I just think there, there are some simple tweaks and some strategies that we can use to make it easier on us and them.

Becky (29:24):

I think that’s all such helpful and really easy and actionable things. Like none of this is requiring us to like, you know, alter our daycare or childcare plans. To completely revamp how we, you know, maintain safety. Like this is a very easy thing to do.

Becky (29:44):

I really like interactive books. So if you want grandma and grandpa to read some books on FaceTime, I think interactive books are the best way to go. So number one, I mean, I just have a giant version of Goodnight Moon here. I think I got at Home Goods. You know, you can easily find it. But it’s, it’s so much better than having the tiny version, the small board book. But, you know, the pictures are a lot clearer, they can really bring it up close to the screen. So that’s one thing to think about. You know, they make these little puppet books where you know, finger puppet books. You put your finger in and it makes the little creature move. Something like that could be great for grandma and grandpa to read. You know, and be like, peekaboo or it was on the mouth. You put your mouth through the little hole. Have them really attend to the grandparent’s mouths or mom and dad’s mouth. Yeah. You don’t have to be limited to FaceTime play, so that’s an idea. You know, I have this cookie monster countdown book. It has like, well again, this is maybe not so great for FaceTime, but it has a lot of tactile cues. I love lift the flap books because you can make it a peekaboo game. Have the child, you know, really engaged that way. There’s so much you can do if you’re just, when you think outside the box a little bit. And Amazon Prime is your best friend.

Dr. Sarah (31:07):

Yeah, definitely. I feel like every parent has like, single-handedly kept Amazon, has like sent Jeff Bezos to space. Because it’s just a bunch of moms and dads in there, you know, feeding their babies at 3:00 AM being like, here you go Jeff, go to the moon.

Becky (31:30):

Yup. It’s true. It’s true.

Dr. Sarah (31:33):

So I guess what I’m really taking away from this conversation is that one, the jury’s still out. We don’t have enough research to really make these definitive statements. Yes or no, speech and language development is impaired by mask wearing. But sort of from kind of case studies and observations and clinical observations, there’s no evidence in, you know, there’s limited evidence to suggest that kids are really delayed in their, in their language development. I mean, it’s almost two years into the pandemic and we’re not like kids are talking, kids are learning to speak universally.

Becky (32:17):


Dr. Sarah (32:17):

Um if they weren’t, there would be some massive alarm bells being wrong. That being said, it makes sense that parents are anxious about this because it feels like it should delay their development. So I just think it’s important to validate like, yeah, it makes sense. We feel anxious about this. It makes sense. It’s something different. We’re not used to seeing this. It feels very jarring to see our kids and masks and have all of our children’s teachers and care providers in masks and us in masks around them. It’s, that’s hard I think for us it’s different. But kids are incredibly resilient and their brains are just so powerful at making sort of of, of making adjustments, cognitive adjustments to make up for the missing data that they’re, that they’re not getting from masks. And then when in doubt, just up the FaceTime, the in-person and the phone types of FaceTime, but like, you know, face to face maskless contact with your kids when you are able to do that with them. Like in, you know, when you can really show up and show them your face. And be expressive and compensate for the kinds of, you know, ways that mask wearing can, can make sound harder to hear and affect harder to register.

Becky (33:46):

Absolutely. I think, you know, like you said, I think it’s, it’s giving all of us a lot of anxiety because it’s unknown, but from a developmental point of view, from a professional standpoint, you know, it’s almost like it really shouldn’t be standing in the way. Yes, it might, there might be an obstacle, but there are definitely ways that we can work around it. And every situation is so different and every child is so different. You know, I don’t think, I don’t think that, you know, even a kid who is in daycare, I would say full time. I mean, they’re still going to be able to adapt and figure out the language that they’re hearing. There still will be moments of maskless time. Like we said, during meal time, during snack time, outside time, you know, there are definitely ways where they’re going to be getting what they need regardless.

Dr. Sarah (34:41):

Right. And I think too, this isn’t to say that no kids are going to have speech and language developmental delays. It’s just that it’s likely that we are seeing them emerge. Maybe it’s that the mask wearing could have, you know, uncovered an issue earlier than we might have otherwise noticed it because we’re paying more attention. But the reality is, the likelihood that that’s due solely to the presence of masks is not tremendously great. That usually if you are seeing it, you are seeing it because it’s there and it was going to be there. And this isn’t to say, don’t go and get an assessment. You know, don’t delay in calling Becky up and saying, Hey, I have I’m noticing delays in my child’s speech. That still is happening, of course. But, and we want to make sure we’re tending to that and getting it treated. Right. but it’s, you know, we want to mitigate this sort of mass anxiety around. Oh my gosh. What if, what if, what if.

Becky (35:45):

Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s just interesting to think about like, we’ve been in this now for what 20 months give or take. And I mean, we’re really by 18 months ish is when we start noticing like, okay, even somebody born right in the beginning of the pandemic, right. Like now is about the time where we should be seeing, okay, there’s a delay, there’s not a delay. So it’s just interesting to think about I mean, I haven’t heard of anyone really of any major, you know, like you said, alarms going off, like children just aren’t talking or there’s a large increase of children receiving speech and language therapy at this time right now. You know, so I just think it’s important to keep all that in mind.

Dr. Sarah (36:34):

Yeah. That’s so reassuring and helpful. And then even like a lot of these strategies that you, that you shared with us are, are helpful, period. Right? They’re helpful for child’s language development masks or no masks. So read with your kids, talk to them face to face and spend quality time with them. Even if it’s not a ton of time, quality over quantity matters. And you know, we’re going to be okay.

Becky (37:02):

We’re going to be okay. I hope

Dr. Sarah (37:05):

The kids are all right.

Becky (37:07):

The moms though, I don’t know,

Dr. Sarah (37:10):

Ugh, whole other story, a different podcast episode. Well, thank you so much for being here. We’re really grateful for your insights and your wisdom and taking the time to share it all with us.

Becky (37:21):

Of course. This is really fun and happy to do this anytime with you.

Dr. Sarah (37:25):


Becky (37:26):

Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Dr. Sarah (37:28):


Dr. Sarah (37:34):Thanks for listening. I hope this episode helped mitigate some of the mask anxiety you might’ve been feeling. I know it did for me. Now, if you have a question that you’d like me to answer on the podcast, send me a DM to my Instagram account @securelyattachedpodcast, or go to my website, drsarahbren.com and hit contact. I love hearing from you and having you, my listeners be a collaborative part of Securely Attached. And while you’re here, please go ahead and follow the podcast. It really does make such a difference because the more followers that we get, the more likely we are to show up in searches and that lets us support even more parents out there. So while you’re at it, hit that little plus sign at the top of your phone. Thank you so much for being part of this community. I really hope to hear from you. Don’t be a stranger.

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20. How will masks impact children’s language and social-emotional development? A conversation with SLP Becky Birkenfeld