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Stalling Moments to Subtle Breakthroughs

We all have our moments at work. Moments of honest desperation and stalling hesitation. I may feel confident in my profession, but I have these moments too. Sometimes if we let this moment have it’s time, we will learn something greater.

I watched as Kris pressed the play dough between his thumb and the container’s lid. It was the softest dough I owned today, he tested each one before selecting. He’s rejected my blue, teal, yellow and orange as each had varying degrees of staleness. Not this black tub though, it was soft, fresh and new. Kris was happy.

We swayed on the swing together as he pushed and pressed, absorbed in the sensation. I inched closer and silently observed what he was doing. I focused my therapeutic efforts lately in his gestural communication and helping to build a stronger bridge between his world and mine.

He felt me watching him, as he often did. He may appear distant, but he’s observant. An independent young boy that rarely struggles to meet his immediate needs, making communication more of a hindrance than a tool for him. I fumble to motivate him, at times, as we all fumble some days.

He was on a roll today though, pulling my hand on a couple occasions and giving me a play dough container that wouldn’t close just right. I’ve been targeting these for about a month now and today appeared to be going well.

As we rhythmically rocked back and forth, I reflected back on the session. He was a little more vocal today too. My throat was sore and still recovering from a brutal cough. It took me out of work for the last 2 days and the fog still hung over me.

I leaned in closer to watch his thumb create lines in the black dough. Taking the world in, just like he does. He started to babble at me again; I turned and babbled back to him, and then backed away to give him some space. I assumed that was his intention.

In this moment, I realized something different about today’s session. I was speaking far less. I wasn’t commenting on his actions, self-talking as much or asking questions. The more words I uttered, the more I coughed, so I limited my utterances to prevent continued vocal damage.

In doing so, I inadvertently gave him exactly what he needed. He needed the opportunity to process and respond. He needed someone on his level, next to him, experiencing the world as he does and leaving the words out of it. I was trying to show him the world and give him the words; however some children do not respond to that. Some children need us to enter their world first. It takes time to figure out who’s world we need to approach, it’s an evolving process. Sometimes a moment of stalling is exactly what this process needs.

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