I have been thinking a great deal about the students and clients we serve.
Specifically, I am giving some heart-thought to the grown-up versions of our students and clients. Recently, I was asked to come to a fifth grade graduation where one of my former students, a graduating high school senior, was the keynote speaker. It has been almost ten years since I was her SLP. And, today, I received an email from a family I worked with during the tenure of my time in Wisconsin for graduate school. Little John is now in his twenties, and our time together entailed social skills shenanigans, going on family outings and talking about horses.
Collectively, these two young adults are now doing the following:
- Holding conversations
- Advocating for himself/herself
- Doing chores
- Honoring personal interests
- One is majoring in neuroscience at UTD in the fall.
- The other is volunteering at a community ranch and currently looking for employment.
Their stories have surely made an impact on me. More importantly, it reminds me of the scope we need to have as clinicians. Honestly, when I was working on their social skills, I thought about them as forever being in 4th grade. At most, I thought about the next campus they would be attending. Their parents, however, always spoke in terms of life need. John’s mom, Anne, always advocated for giving him skills that would make a difference in his future job. And, now, with his heart desires and mother’s tenacious spirit, they will reach their goal.
These stories also make me think of the opportunities we have to be a part of the families’ lives. I know our field makes a difference. However, at times, it is hard to see the fruits of our labor. And, really, the families are the ones who are able to tell us and show us the full scope of our work. So, I am reminded to do better at thinking of the student’s collective life and family needs.
A picture worth 1000 words
After two years of being a part of John’s family, it was time for me to head back to the Lone Star State. My last project with John was meaningful. John loved to draw, and he drew a picture of his most beloved possession–his family. Additionally, with support, he found his own words to thank his mom and dad. Truth be told, I did not just work with John. I spent time and learned to understand the needs of John’s most important people. With all team members on board, we were able to collectively support John and each other. This picture, hung in every home the family has lived, is a reminder that communication needs, a life need, is best addressed with all hearts in mind. So, let’s take the time to think of the grown-up versions of our student and clients. It’s worth the time.
I feel lucky to do what we do.
With summer offering some time to reflect, I find myself looking back, honoring all small and big moments and moving forward with some perspective. Anne shared that they recently got back from vacation in Florida. When there, someone asked John about horses in Texas. He said, “My old worker lives in Texas!” As always, I am humbled to be in such a great profession and reminded that aging is surely a part of life.