Grown-up Talk

I’ve always loved working with kids and have no doubt that this is where I’m meant to be. And it seems to be the same with most clinicians, personalities that lean heavily toward pediatrics or adults, medical or school-type settings.

My primary difficulty in working with adults, which I did for a spell with a mixed inpatient/outpatient caseload, was how to cheer them on.

I was a cheerleader and I can be perky.  I’m often enthusiastic. I worried about coming across as condescending. And I love games, not just in therapy, but all the time.  Board games, crosswords, silly contests, I love them all, but realize not many adults share this passion.  So I was bored by my own therapy when we just did the “work.”

I’ve been at the hospital regularly, visiting an ill family member (adult, no cognitive issues).  I’m very aware of the different approaches the nursing staff have.  Some are brisk and no nonsense.  Others are overly doting, using diminutive terms and apologizing for treatments, diagnoses, and discomfort as if they had some kind of control.  My favorite are those who manage a middle ground that seems to convey, “you got a raw deal here, but let’s get through it as best we can together, and if there is something I can do to make it easier for you, by all means let me know.”  What a gift.

Now it’s your turn.  Anybody working with adults?  How do you motivate your clients and what type of demeanor do you find works best for you and your setting?


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Debra

    I have found that adults enjoy some humor but just want you to be genuine with them and to listen. If you can have fun with them, be knowledgeable and not talk down to them, they are very appreciative. At least, that’s been my approach and it seems to work.

    1. admin

      Genuine is the key thing I think. Thanks! Kim

  2. Kristin Mosman

    Great post! Even though I am not working with kids, I like to make sure my adult patients are still having fun in therapy. I think if I am bored, they are bored. I agree with Debra- adults with neurological injuries are VERY sensitive about being talked down to, or being talked to in a “pediatric voice” as I termed it for my student interns. I try to talk to them like a friend, always explain the rationale to them for what we are doing, and even back it up with research if they are skeptical, and then just try to keep things as interesting for them as possible.

    1. admin

      Thanks, Kristin. A super reminder. 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.