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advice from health care professionals

Expert Advice: Your Child’s Health

A Q&A with 6 local health care professionals with topics ranging from ABA therapy to COVID-19 vaccinations for children.

Infectious Diseases
Mary Suzanne Whitworth, MD
Cook Children’s Health Care System
1500 Cooper St., Fort Worth

Q: Who can I talk to about COVID-19 vaccinations?

Mary Suzanne Whitworth, MD: Talk to your Cook Children’s doctor to learn more about vaccine safety and benefits. When your child is eligible, we can provide vaccines to keep them as healthy as possible.

Q: Is my child at risk for myocarditis or other heart problems?

MSW: As with all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine does have some reported side effects, including myocarditis (swelling of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue covering the heart). SARS-CoV-2 virus infection has been shown to cause these complications and they can be serious and even life-threatening. The risk of developing these complications is much higher if you catch the actual virus infection than it is if you get the vaccine. The risk of myocarditis and pericarditis from the vaccine is very low. Almost all myocarditis and pericarditis cases due to the vaccine have been mild and resolved quickly when treated.

Q: Will my child have an allergic reaction to the vaccine?

MSW: There have been some allergic reactions to vaccines. This occurs in only two to five people per million vaccine doses. It is very rare.

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine interfere with or change my child’s DNA (genes)?

MSW: No. Your body uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to give instructions to your cells. The mRNA molecules tell your cells to make the spike protein that is present on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body sees it as a strange protein and makes antibodies to fight the virus. Once the mRNA molecules deliver the message, they break down inside your body.

Q: My child already had COVID-19. Should they still get vaccinated?

MSW: Yes. If your child had COVID-19, it is possible for them to catch this virus again. Not everyone has a good immune response when they get infected, but if they get vaccinated, their immune response to protect them against future infections is actually higher than those who get vaccinated and were never infected. The vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing future cases of serious COVID disease.

Q: Should I wait to vaccinate my child?

MSW: With kids back in school, they are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19. The delta variant spreads quickly, and it’s more contagious and more likely to affect children. The longer people wait to get vaccinated, the more the virus can spread. Viruses that spread also tend to change (or mutate) and make new variants. Getting vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Q: How do I keep my children safe before they can get vaccinated?


  • Wear a mask when indoors or in crowded places.
  • Maintain social distance (approximately 6 feet apart), especially indoors.
  • Avoid indoor activities when possible, such as dining in restaurants, playing sports inside or going to indoor play areas.
  • Keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?

MSW: No, there is no evidence that the vaccine causes infertility for men or women.

ABA Therapy
Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, LBA, BCBA
The Behavior Exchange
Plano Hive: 6105 Windcom Court, Suite 400, Plano, TX 75093
Frisco Hive: 8501 Wade Blvd, Building 12, Frisco, TX 75034
972/312-8733 | email

Q: Can children with autism learn and reach their full potential?

Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, LBA, BCBA: Yes! With expert, caring ABA therapy, children with autism and other developmental concerns can have a brighter future with their families.

  • After decades of research and use, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) has become the recommended standard of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
  • ABA helps children build important life skills, including compliance, instruction following, reading, language and communication, sibling relationships, age-appropriate play and social interaction, and self-help skills.
  • Early intervention is key. Children as young as 18 months can benefit from ABA therapy.

The Behavior Exchange recommends you seek help if you suspect a diagnosis. We’ve been a trusted ABA provider to North Texas families for more than 20 years and are proud to have earned accreditation as a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence®.

  • Our unique approach to ABA promises expert therapists, care beyond compare, and lots of fun – from our colorful and creative learning environments to our extensive, propriety curriculum designed by our very own BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts).
  • We provide a range of ABA therapy services that are highly individualized for each child. Most children start in One-on-One Therapy, then graduate to B.E.E.S., the Behavior Exchange
  • Early Start program for preschoolers, or to Social Skills Group, for school-aged children.
  • We also have a fun Summer Camp, along with Parent Training and many other services for children and siblings.
  • All of our services are covered by insurance, so we’re an in-network provider with Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Magellan Health, United Healthcare, and TRICARE.

There is hope for your child and family. Call or email to learn how we can help!

Dean Beckloff, PhD, LPC-S
Beckloff Behavioral Health Center
17210 Campbell Rd., Dallas

Q: What do I do when I’ve blown up at my kid? I mean, when I’ve really blown it?

Dean Beckloff, PhD, LPC-S: Thanks for your question. No one likes to blow their stack at their child. Many of us feel guilt and remorse, and a desire to not let that happen again. I know, I’ve done it with my children. What you do about it afterward is important. And that is, to take responsibility—apologize.

It’s no use acting as if what we did was OK. Our kids know when we’ve blown it. If we’re going to expect our children to take responsibility for their actions, we must model that as well. And probably, the first step is dealing with the wrong, with abject honesty… We blew it and we state that to them. ‘Honey, I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me.’ Be as unflinching in your apology as you were when yelling.

Most kids get it. They understand these immense feelings. They’ve felt them too. Tomorrow’s another day. Ask for forgiveness, and give forgiveness. Then we can move forward.

ABA Therapy
Alexis Bryant, BCBA, LBA
Flower Mound, Trophy Club, Grapevine

Q: My child was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder…what now?

Alexis Bryant, BCBA, LBA: Every parent’s process following diagnosis will be different and it is important to take the time needed to grasp what this will mean for your child and your family. There will be lots of questions and having supports to help you begin to understand can be vital in this process. It is likely your diagnosing practitioner provided you a list of resources to research, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services.

Today, if you google ABA services near me you will find an overwhelming number of providers. So how do you find the right fit? It is essential to look around and tour different places. You want a provider that is going to be well versed in programming individualized to your child, has a reasonable caseload size so your child gets the oversight and time they need, and is going to be able to guide and support you as the parent.

Speech Therapy
Caroline Smith, MS, CCC, ASDCS
Speech-Language Pathologist, Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinical Specialist
Summit Therapy Services
4500 Hillcrest Rd, Ste 140, Frisco

Q: My child is 2 and not yet talking. We’ve been told to use the “wait and see” approach. Should they have a speech-language evaluation or is it too early?

Caroline Smith, MS, CCC, ASDCS: In my experience, when parents have a concern about their child’s speech and language development at  an early age, an evaluation is typically warranted. Parents know their children best. When looking at your child’s communication, observe their speech (sounds and words) and language (overall understanding and communication). If you feel your child is struggling or having difficulty in any of these areas, an evaluation is necessary.

A comprehensive evaluation includes a family-centered approach with the assessment of a child’s use of speech, gestures, eye contact, and their responses to the play, behavior, gestures, and speech of others.

A pediatric speech-language pathologist will help you navigate developmental milestones to determine if therapy is needed.  Remember: early identification is the key to success!

Bruce Schlomer, MD
UT Southwestern Pediatric Group at Plano
7609 Preston Road, 1st Floor, Suite P1100, Plano

Q: When should my child see a pediatric urologist?

Bruce Schlomer, MD: When your child is in pain or experiencing significant discomfort from symptoms caused by a complication with their kidney, bladder, urinary tract, or genitalia, it can be particularly difficult to pinpoint the problem or even get them to talk about.

Pediatric urologists have specialized training in diagnosing and treating urinary tract and genital  organ problems in infants, children, and teens. We help our young patients and their parents deal with everything from bedwetting to kidney stones and from urinary tract infections to inguinal hernias.

It can be stressful to learn your child might need to see a pediatric urologist, but it doesn’t automatically mean something is terribly wrong or that surgery will be necessary. In fact, although we are expert surgeons, less than half of our patients need surgery.

To request an appointment, call 469/497-2500 or visit us online.