SLP Love Hurts
February is a time for love. I love my job, but sometimes, love hurts.
When I started working in the schools in self-contained programs, I was kind of thrown in without any training of what to do if a student tried to hurt me. Honestly, I was pretty naive, and never even thought it would happen. My first three years went without a hitch. I worked with students in self-contained rooms for students with cognitive impairments. Then, my fourth year, I was placed in two self-contained rooms for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I thought, "Ok, I've got this too." I was not totally new to working with students on the spectrum, however, I had not worked with non-verbal students on the spectrum before.
To say that year was difficult for me is an understatement. The first time I was grabbed, I was shocked! I didn't know what to do. I was also kicked, scratched and hit a lot that year. Nobody in the room was trained on what to do to avoid or escape these situations. We all worked together to try and support each other, and figure out what we were doing wrong (getting too close, student needed a sensory break that we were not providing, too high of a demand for the moment). I had a lot of minor scratches and bruises. I was honestly scared of a lot of the kids, and wasn't feeling much love. That was a pretty vulnerable feeling.
Thank goodness that I started to get more training after that year. I attended CPI training during the summer. This two-day class taught me how to de-escalate tricky situations, how to prevent things from getting escalated in the first place, and how to protect myself from getting hurt. We learned how to get out of grabs, hair pulls, and bites ("feed the bite"). I can now dodge a strike with the best of them, and have luckily avoided most other attempts. I get my updated training every year through CPI, which definitely helps.
I also started to learn more about behaviors and how behavior is often times communication. A lot of my students were using their behaviors to tell me to get out of their space, that they needed a break, or that what I was trying to have them do was just too difficult in the moment. It took a lot of vulnerable moments with other staff, trying to figure all of this out, but now I feel much more confident when working with students who may show these kids of behaviors.
Now, I can honestly say that I love my students. I currently work with four self-contained rooms with students with ASD. I love all of them. Sure, we still have our trying moments at times, but truly, love doesn't always have to hurt.
See how other Frenzied SLPs deal when #slplovehurts.