Thursday, February 07, 2013

Something I want every parent to know when they come to see me


For the entire day I have been on cute overload.  Two ridiculously cute infants and then six ridiculously cute toddlers and preschoolers all came through my doors today for OT.  Another therapist saw several ridiculously cute grade school students later in the afternoon. They were all so cute that by the end of the day I was practically giddy.

Then at the very end of the day I saw an older child who we all absolutely love.  He is also ridiculously cute.  He has a severe disability and is nonverbal and for whatever reason he had a full blown crisis and put his foot right through my wall.  That never happened before with him - but of course we have had lots of experiences over the years when kids come in and have behavioral difficulties and become really upset.  Parents sometimes feel embarrassed or sometimes mad or sometimes frustrated and sometimes they feel all those things at the same time.

As my friend settled and the parent readied him to leave I said, "We will see you next week."  The parent replied, "If you are willing to sustain more damage!"

I tried to explain that of course I wanted him to come back and that I could care less about the wall and actually I was quietly praying and very thankful that he didn't direct his anger toward a window where he could have injured himself - but I don't know if the parent heard me.

So I wanted to write it down as a proclamation today.  I love cute kids and I had plenty of that today.  But I also love kids even when it might seem that it is impossible to see them as cute - or when their behaviors are really difficult to manage - because actually the cute factor does not drive my understanding of how kids of all temperaments and skills might need help.

I can fix a wall.  That's easy to do.  I know it is harder to try and fix behavioral difficulties for children who are nonverbal and who have severe disabilities.  I also know that parents can be at their wit's end because these problems can seem so intractable.  But I will still try and I will not give up even in the face of the meltdowns that are sure to happen over time.

I'll still try even if a child kicks a hundred holes in my wall.

Actually, those meltdowns motivate me to try to be even more helpful. And I don't get intimidated or upset in any way.  Even when a child's behavior is not 'cute.'

And that is as honest as I know how to be about it.

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