Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and thoughts turn to flowers, chocolates, jewelry and oh yes, sadness, disappointment, expectations. The Frenzied SLPs thought we would explore Valentine's Day from a different perspective; that of the SLP and how there are times "love hurts" quite literally.
If you are anything like me you take your job to heart. In fact, you view it as so much more than a job. It is a passion, a choice, so when a student or client goes for the soft white underbelly, it hurts. I have been clawed, kicked, scratched, bitten, insulted, belittled, and mocked. Ahhhh, memories! It's no wonder I go back to work!
Back in 1986 or 87 I was fresh out of graduate school and a newly ASHA certified SLP. The world was my oyster and I felt pretty good about the direction my life was heading. I was working in an inner city in a primary school, only K-2. There were 12 kindergartens in that school in addition to 7 each of first and second and four self-contained special education classes. I had over 80 students on my caseload, but I was young and idealistic.
I had one feisty little girl who was physically and verbally aggressive. One day she was in a particularly foul mood and was not having any speech therapy. I cajoled and encouraged and did my speechy thing when all of a sudden she hauled off and swung at me. I was 26 years old and fairly quick so I was able to move back. Unbeknownst to me she had wound up with another shot with the other hand and landed a closed fist punch on my jaw. That was followed up with some very colorful language. You can fill in the blanks, "_ucko a_hole!" Remember, however to substitute /th/ for /s/. This one screamed all the way to the principal's office, "Miss Polizzi's a b_____," (again, insert lisp, it makes me laugh).
At the time I was devastated. My jaw hurt, because she packed a wallop, my heart was broken and my confidence shattered. It was the first time I had been so physically and emotionally abused by a child. Sadly it wouldn't be the last time.
I learned from this experience though. I learned that for me it was over quickly. For a parent it is day in and day out and I have to remain compassionate about their lives with children who have behavior difficulties. I learned that when a child acts out it is never about me, but more likely something that happened at home or in another class or a thought or feeling that I have no control over. I learned that neurology is HUGE and sometimes these children are not making a conscious choice to be confrontational! I have learned that more often than not the trauma a child experiences happens from birth to age five, and it will impact them forever. These are the children with addiction and substance abuse issues, diabetes, heart conditions, anxiety and so much more. Their trauma makes them sick, literally. I learned I may be one of only handful of people who is kind to them on any given day.
While I can look back on this experience and chuckle and like the Rain Man, add it to my book of personal injuries, I often wonder what happened to this little girl. She would be 37 years old and may be a parent (or grandparent) herself. She may have continued the cycle or she may have healed. I pray for the latter, as I do for all my students with behavioral challenges, every night. Yes, love hurts. But it is only temporary.
How about you? When has #SLP Love Hurt? How did you deal with it? The Frenzied SLPs would love you to link up and share your experiences.