Chicken Soup for the SLP Soul: A selective moment

Chicken soup blog hop

Graduate school is a tough time.  Not only was I limited in my knowledge and experience (professional and life), but you’re constantly thrown into new learning environments.  Tuesday mornings might be at a school.  Wednesday afternoon you might be juggling adults in a rehab clinic.  Fridays might have you doing rounds at the hospital. My mind was a constant jumble.

So I was excited when I was assigned my first school practicum which had me in the same location a couple of mornings a week for a few months.  My first hour had me in a self-contained preschool classroom with almost all of the students receiving speech/language services for moderate impairments.  I was going to provide “language stimulation” while they had their free play time and later in the morning I’d be back for a structured group lesson.

The teachers and my supervisor helpfully pointed out children and listed their diagnosis and goals.

“We’re not sure what level R.’s at.”  They told me.  “He won’t speak to anyone.”

He had started in the beginning of the school year.  It was now January.

I was drawn to this quiet child who seemed easily overwhelmed by the noise of the classroom and the direct approach of his teachers and therapist and content to play by himself in the block corner.

I’m an observer myself; happy to watch before joining in and delighted to be in my own company for hours on end.  I started building.

We sat in parallel play for a long time pulling from the same pile of blocks.  He glanced at my structure a few times.

I saw that he was using a lot of one kind of block.  I passed him one that was closer to me.  He took it and went back to his task.  Several more minutes went by and then I broke the silence.

I grabbed the biggest block from our stack and simply said, “This one is so small.”  He glanced over and he started to giggle.

“No.  It’s big.”

Yes.  It really was.

Trust, rapport, patience.  The cornerstone of a successful therapeutic relationship has to include these tenets, but the more experienced we become the more likely we are to rush in and try this, or this, maybe this.  I need to remember to be selective myself.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Nicole Allison

    Love it! Great trick to elicit language! I did something similar with a student who had selective mutism. He LOOOVED dogs and, according to mom, knew everything about them. So, one day, I held up a picture of a huge pitt bull and said, “hmmm..I wonder what kind of dog this is? I think it’s called a Chihuahua.” Needless to say, language exploded from him.

    1. admin

      Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mary

    Great story! Sometimes it just takes having the child getting warmed up to you and allowing you “in”!

  3. Annie Doyle

    When I read this I was reminded of some of the Eastern traditions that teach quiet and patience and observation. When I feel I have thirty seconds to complete a task that quiet, companionable relationship building falls by the wayside. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. admin

      Thanks Annie!

  4. Teach Speech 365

    Much needed reminders, especially in this fast-paced world!

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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.