A Tough Patient

Summer is a time for me to unwind and catch up on novels that I had hoped to get to during the year.  It’s also a time for me to delve into a couple inspirational or self-help type titles.  One “lesson” that came up a few times in those reading was patience.

I have a mixed reputation.  I’m the one in my family generally thought to be the most hard core when it comes to boundary-setting.  I’m fiercely protective of family-time and require a good deal of personal space (both literally and figuratively) and won’t hesitate to assert myself.  But I can be exceedingly patient and empathetic, a trait I’m sure common among those of us in rehab/education fields.

We had an extended family reunion this summer (actually two—one for either side of our family).  While we are a tight knit bunch, it was particularly meaningful to get together outside of a holiday (The gifts!  The meals!  The hosting!) and go on vacation as a group.  This type of event is much harder to orchestrate with everyone’s schedule so it doesn’t happen often.

I was trying to be understanding, with rather minimal success, of a hotel employee that seemed keen to join our group.  Not someone who was overly attentive with service, I mean bordering on interloper (i.e. sitting with us at the end of a meal).  I was cuing up a polite, but firm, request that would have him on his way.

Then came his story.

This gentleman equated success with family.  He saw my parent’s long marriage as a mirror of his own parents’ union.  A goal, he said, he strove to achieve and was devastated when his own marriage dissolved.  He and his siblings had children near the age of ours, but because of distance/custody large family gatherings didn’t happen.  And once he shared, he seemed to let us go.

I was glad I’d stayed silent—shown some patience.

We go rushing through so many of our days and finding ourselves irrationally impatient with poor drivers, customers paying by check (Still?  Really?), the single person we get in line behind for a coffee order only to have them whip out a list of requests from an entire division.  I’m consciously working to bring a clinician’s patience to these settings.

But in my summer reflections, I made another decision too.  That impatience I’m taking out of everyday tasks, I’m bringing into the therapy room.  (Ok, maybe not all of it, but a decent sized chunk.)

I primarily see mild-moderately impaired kiddos on a private basis and timeliness is a critical issue since time equals money in a very clear, billable hour kind of way.  It can’t work across the board, but for some kiddos I’m starting to establish deadlines.  The parents and I will adjust as needed, but I want them on board too.

Clear establishment of where we are, beyond citing error sounds or standard scores.  Clear establishment of where we need to get and how we’re going to get there, beyond “target sound in single words at 90%.”  Clear homework expectations rather than just sending the activities home.  Clear practice expectations for home and classroom—and making sure kids are on board with it too.  I think too often we aren’t getting kiddos involved in their own case management.

It’s my back to school goal, and I’m impatient to get started.

Just for fun, let us know what everyday event gives you a fit of impatienceAnd if you have any tips for me with my new plan, please share!



This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. brenda

    I LOVE this post. We give ourselves a huge gift when we see how the lessons from our personal and professional lives align. Traffic, kitchen spills when I’m in a rush, and getting stuck talking to “bad listeners” send me over the edge! I try to remind myself to be patient, and also to be patient with myself while I am *learning to be more patient* 😉

    1. admin

      Thanks, Brenda. Good luck with your quest–good things come to those who wait (patiently) 😉 Kim

  2. Kristin Mosman

    Great post and great idea. I think the deadlines help the kids and parents realize this is not such an endless process if they really invest themselves.

    1. admin

      I love the way you’ve summed this up (and may use it in future meetings!). Thanks for the comment! Kim

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.