Saturday, February 6, 2016

SLP Love Hurts: A Frenzied SLPs Link Up

It's February and LOVE is in the air!  The Frenzied SLPs know that sometimes love hurts and many times when we love our jobs and clients/students as much as we do, it can sometimes result in a bit of pain on our end.  So this Frenzied Link Up we are turning the "lovey dovey" feelings of St. Valentine's day upside down and sharing our "Love Hurts" stories from the lens of the SLP.

My story begins many many years ago.  I had been practicing speech pathology for about 5 years at this time, when I started a new job.  The first day on the job, I was raring and ready to go.  I was eager to prove myself and show this school they made the best hire choice.  So when I walked into the classroom to bring a little friend back to the speech therapy room, I was not at all worried when the classroom teacher cautioned me regarding his behaviors.  I was no longer the green SLP I was out of graduate school.  No. I was the savvy SLP, who had spent the last 5 years reading and researching various disorders and disabilities.  I was the energetic SLP who was not afraid to tackle any new challenge.  This was not my first rodeo.  I knew I "had this".

My new friend and I walked down the hallway to my therapy room and began play therapy without incident.  My confidence was building by the second.  I was going to conquer the world, or at least this caseload.  I was going to have all my non-verbal students talking within days of meeting me through my sheer determination and fun loving attitude.  Looking back I can see I had very high hopes that were quite unrealistic, but in the time, well, like I said, I thought "I had this".

Then something amazing happened.  Something wonderful.  Humiliating, but wonderful.  As I was confidently playing on the floor with my new friend, I leaned forward to pick up a car. Without skipping a beat, my new pal drove a race car in his right hand while he punched me in the eye with his left.  He didn't look up.  He didn't say a word.  In fact, I almost wasn't sure it actually happened, until my eye started to water.  Oh, it happened all right.  My right eye was beginning to swell.

In that moment I learned a lesson that has stayed with me for the rest of my life.  I broke a cardinal rule when I leaned forward and got too close to my new buddy.  I entered his personal space bubble and I did it without knowing if he was comfortable or ready for such an intrusion.  In time we became the best of friends and I loved his spunk and spark!  But that day, my first day on the job, I had to suck up my wounded pride and take him back to his classroom with a red, puffy, swollen eye.  Some of the best moments in my life have been moments such as this, moments when I have been a bit humbled.

So even though loving our job too much will sometimes result in a bit of pain, pain physically or pain to one's ego (Ha!),  the lesson I want to pass on to you today is the very one this little guy taught me that day several years:  never enter a child's personal space bubble without building a proper rapport first.  I've never forgotten this lesson and in fact, it's helped me many many times over the last decade.  I hope it helps you too!

I love my job.  Sometimes love hurts and sometimes, as John Cougar Mellencamp says, it "hurts so good".  This story, this lesson for me, was a good hurt and I'll always be grateful to my buddy for teaching me this lesson.

Have a tip or lesson you learned because #SLPLoveHurts?  Feel free to comment below.  (Please remember to keep all identifiable client information confidential)
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