It happened. Last week. I had one of THOSE days. No, not the horrendous, stressful, make you want to find a beach somewhere and live there forever with no responsibility. The kind where a student makes a HUGE breakthrough just before you think you’ve exhausted every idea in your head. I have had many low-functioning students in my two different schools. The populations at both schools have both been very varied in terms of needs/abilities. This included extremely low-functioning students whose progress is very limited. I’ve had days where I think, “I have no idea what to do. Nothing I’m doing is working. Maybe I’m just not the right therapist for these kids.” At other times I’ve thought, “I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve been given and maybe this skill just isn’t attainable for this student at this time.” I try not to be pessimistic and to see the potential in all of my students, but some just aren’t ready when WE want them to be. And that’s fine. There are a variety of factors and variables that come in to play when working with these students, and we can’t control or predict them all. I’m currently working with preschoolers. Some are straight artic cases and others are way more involved. Some have very little functional communication aside from pointing and/or dragging the adult by the hand to the object he/she wants. I had been working with one little guy to get him to use any form of expressive communication. Any time I would put some sort of demand on him, he would tantrum. We’re talking arching his back, dropping to the floor, flailing his arms, pushing materials off the table, crying, drooling – the works! Finally, last week it happened. I had been trying for a month and a half. Then, after just two trials with prompts (such as hand over hand/physical prompting), he independently handed over a picture card to me to request a toy. And he KEPT doing it! No crying, no whining, no avoiding, no dropping, no nothing! Just good ole communication again and again! I’ve heard people talk about these sorts of breakthroughs that just happen one day, but kind of thought I wasn’t the therapist to elicit these huge gains. This little dude proved me wrong!
The work you’re doing is powerful. It’s meaningful. And, you’re making a difference even on the days where a tantrum is all that you’re getting out of a client. Maybe a few ruffled feathers means he’s about to take flight! Have you had one of THOSE days?! Tell me about it!