Speech Therapist Inspires Community with Story of Her Struggle

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After overcoming her disabilities, Rachel Betzen of Dallas Reading and Language Services, finds a way to return to work she loves.

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Dallas Reading and Language Services

Jaime is now in 11th grade, doing very well, and plans to go to college. We will never forget Rachel and what she did for Jaime and our family

On August 6th, 2012, Rachel Betzen M.A. CCC/SLP opens her private practice for child and adolescent Speech Therapy and Reading Intervention at the Winnetka Place building in the North Oak Cliff area of Dallas. Mrs. Betzen's practice, which effectively integrates speech therapy and reading intervention, delivers a unique offering to the Dallas community. Inspired by her history in non-profit and private practice, and her personal four-year journey with illness and recovery, she provides services on a sliding fee scale, which will soon include Medicaid and other major insurance carriers.

“I am so excited to re-launch my practice,” Mrs. Betzen said. “After years of professional experience honed by personal challenges and eventual triumphs, I know how much I can bring to young folks and their families who face communication and academic challenges.”

Mrs. Betzen's approach to Speech Therapy is nothing short of unique. In addition to blending therapy with reading instruction, her ability to inspire and empathize with clients allows her to help them overcome the barriers separating them from their goals. Progressive and real goal achievement, according to Mrs. Betzen, is the foundation on which all successful therapy practices are built. She believes that clients need goals, lots of them, and constant reassessment – goals can't just inspire hard work, they also have to reflect it.

The method of multi-sensory therapy that she provides allows clients to reach concurrent milestones in speech, writing, and reading, so they are always moving forward in one way or another. Children and adolescents struggling to communicate and read greatly benefit from this multi-sensory instruction, which emphasizes what they are seeing, hearing, and feeling. The concepts underpinning this approach are time-tested and successful. As Mrs. Betzen has adapted this multi-sensory method to the underserved and special needs population of Dallas, she's come to realize that great therapists, while treating individuals, engage whole families. Part of family engagement begins with continuing the process at home, which Mrs. Betzen makes easier by providing resources, including her Speech Cue Card Program, available as a free download on her website – http://www.pre-literacy.com. The other part of family engagement is the meaningful development of family relationships.

“Before we met Mrs. Betzen, Jaime was only talking a little, but we couldn't understand him. He was in 2nd grade and not reading at all. After he started therapy he began reading, we started to understand his words, and he began to talk a lot! He didn't fight with us and helped around the house more. In 3rd grade he went from an all special-ed class to a regular class. He worked with Rachel Betzen for 3 more years and got caught up in school. Jaime is now in 11th grade, doing very well, and plans to go to college. We will never forget Rachel and what she did for Jaime and our family”. Natalia S.

Almost ten years ago Mrs. Betzen's therapy career began with Dallas Services, a non-profit serving Medicaid patients. “They began to offer a multi-sensory reading program with speech therapy that had amazing results. However, after the therapy clinic had to close, the children couldn't get speech-language therapy integrated with reading intervention anywhere else,” said Mrs. Betzen. Seeing a need, she started a private practice in a small office, doing part-time contract work until she built up a client-base of inclusion, pre-school, special needs children and adolescents. Her business began to take off, and by 2005 her practice was operating full-time.

In the midst of all this success, tragedy struck. Rachel and her husband Stephen were in a car accident that slowly led to a series of complications. Slight twitching in her legs, arms, and eyes then became severe leg and eye sensitivity, spasms, and confinement to a wheel-chair for eight months. She was deemed a “medical mystery”. The workload grew unmanageable for her in this weakened state. She took on a speech therapist to help her with her client load, but had to stop work entirely in 2008. Shortly after, doctors found the diagnosis: late-stage lyme disease. The complications and therapies she underwent are too many to list, according to Mrs. Betzen. Her last treatment program at the PRIDE clinic, a world renowned rehabilitation center for patients with chronic pain, was pivotal in her healing and regaining strength. Finally, she found the right mix of medication, therapy, and qigong – a method of breathing and movement that promotes alignment and healing.

Now Mrs. Betzen is returning to work with a new perspective on speech therapy. She wants to work with clients and their families to dispel the notion that previous failures are indicative of intelligence or will. She knows and can share her personal experience. When her clients find out that she learned braille in order to keep reading once her eyes fatigued, they understand that she understands. Her visually impaired clients particularly benefit from her new skill. Mrs. Betzen's speech language therapy services are unique, in no small part because she can empathize. Therapy is painful and rewarding. “Little goals and patience get you through,” Mrs. Betzen says.

On August 6th 2012, Mrs. Betzen will open her Speech Therapy Practice at the Winnetka Place building in the North Oak Cliff area of Dallas. For more information about her services, please call 214-274-7455, email at rbetzen(at)dallasreading(dot)com, or visit her company website, http://www.dallasreading.com.

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