This time last year, I made a professional resolution as a music therapist. I had just begun taking a class titled "Teaching Students with Autism" for my graduate studies and realized I was attempting to cram way too much into my sessions. I didn't want one second of down time, just constant activity for an hour. After doing some reading for the course (as well as some self-reflection), I realized this was not serving me or my clients well. I was exhausted at the end of the hour, and my clients were twice as tired as I was. By the end of the session, we weren't making real strides towards goals. I'd burned all the fuel early.
I made a resolution to pace my sessions better and incorporate breaks. An hour of solid work is hard for anyone. It's harder for a child, especially when they're working on difficult therapeutic goals. Add to that a diagnosis such as autism or ADHD, where focus of attention is often an issue, and you're simply asking for an unrealistic result. The things we work on in therapy SHOULD be a stretch, otherwise we're not really making progress. The difference was amazing. My sessions were more efficient and I felt far less frazzled at the end of the hour.
This year my resolution is a lot different, but it's one I imagine most everyone in the special needs community goes through. This year I'm resolving to always remember that progress towards therapeutic goals takes time. I'm going to make a commitment to be patient and preserver alongside my clients.
In some ways, I can be a Type A personality. Namely in the way that I can't stand waiting in line. I hate theme parks for that very reason. I'll take a longer route while driving, as long as I avoid traffic and keep moving. I can have a tendency to want results, and I want them now.
But that's just not how therapy works. We're working on long term goals. Our goals are written in 6-month intervals, and even then some of those goals remain on my clients' goal sheets for several periods.
They're making progress, it just takes time. You don't go to spin class for an hour and come out 100 lbs lighter.
So in 2013, I'm going to remember to keep my eye on the big picture, and not get bogged down with any kind of small bump in the road on the way. My clients show determination and hard work week in and week out, and I owe it to them to show the same kind of perseverance.
What are some of your resolutions for the new year? Share them in the comments below!
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