mercyIn an age when we are supposed to be experts at everything, have we grown to the point where we are doing ourselves and our clients a disservice?

When I was young, my brother and I had a game called pet store.  One of us would have our arm pinned down while the other told a story walking his fingers up and down the other person’s forearm.

 “A little boy went to the pet store and bought back an… ant/spider squirrel/hippo…/elephant.” 

Each animal’s claws got sharper or the animal stomped harder until your forearm was a scratched, bruised mess.  No one made it to the dreaded ELEPHANT because you caved in and cried mercy.

I told this story to a friend, and he said that he and his brother had a game called typewriter.  His brother would sit on his chest and type by poking him in the forehead and then slap the side of his head and yell “ding!” before starting to type another line.

So the question is this:  Have we lost the ability to cry Mercy?

If you have a client or a student and you are not making progress, what do you do?  Nothing?  Tell the parent?  Seek a colleague?  How long do you go without progress before saying something?

When your caseload of 45 students turns into 65, what do you do?  Do you sit on it?  Pray for summer?  Ask for help?

In an age when all knowledge seems like it is one Google search away, I think that many of us are needlessly suffering from the idea that we are supposed to know everything and do everything.  That if we are struggling, it is due to a personal shortcoming and we just need to ____________ more.  Fill in whatever word is your standby:  KNOW / DO / BE, etc.

We are all experts, just not at the same thing.

RTI area imageJust look at the Speech Therapy Referral Forms page as an example.  There are over 27 ways in which a child can have difficulty communicating.  Can you effectively fix all of them?  I certainly can’t.  Add in AAC or a second language and, now, how effective are you?

With the disorder areas that I treat really well, I can effect change immediately or within a couple of months.  If I hit 90 days with no discernible improvement, I have to be brave enough to say “I don’t know, let me find someone.”

We are killing ourselves.

How do you feel when that child is not making progress?  Awful. Maybe he or she is the sort of client who will not progress.  But do you truly know? Have you asked someone with different experience/resources than you?  Only that quest will land you back at a good night’s sleep.  We need to forgive ourselves for not knowing how to treat every disorder and get real.  Even if you did know everything today, research on ways to improve is coming out at an ever-increasing pace.  So, forgive yourself for being human and commit yourself to learning.

Bottom line, if you have not made discernible progress in a while, call someone.  If a client from last school year or last month makes you feel icky because you felt ineffective, find a CEU course on that topic.

In a perfect world, bravery will be instantly recognizable as a person who can say:

I don’t know what to do, but I can find someone who does.

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