You know those moments when you just need life to cut you a break, and then suddenly, something, Someone makes it all go your way? Well, that just happened to me. Now, I’m not religious, but I do believe in a Higher Power that is bigger than what I ever could conceptualize, and I have feeling He/She had something to do with all this. But that’s besides the point.
See, yesterday, my little client Lily (whose name has been changed for confidentiality purposes) returned to school from Thanksgiving break, which meant it was time for me to go back to work too.
A little backstory is needed here – Lily, unlike most of my clients, is not on the Autism Spectrum, but instead has tested as exceptionally gifted. She does, however, have a few behavioral issues that have gotten out of hand – such as screaming, biting, kicking, and escaping the classroom – whenever she is triggered by a particular event. Being new to behavior therapy and taking on this case, I knew that I would have an extremely steep learning curve to catch up on asap. Thus, it was a total game of trial and error with her my first week. Of course I’m being guided by a BCBA (board certified behavior analyst) who I report to for feedback, but out on the field during the day, I am completely on my own. After my first week with Lily, I felt completely at a loss, stressed and overwhelmed. Particularly on the last day before the break, Lily had a gigantic 10/10 meltdown that left me totally disheartened. While all Lily’s school teachers constantly affirm my work and thank me for my presence, commenting on the improvement Lily has shown since my arrival, I still cannot help but feel inadequate.
With all of that being said, I was so thankful for Thanksgiving break. It allowed me the chance to regroup and recenter myself. However, on Sunday night, the familiar knot of anxiety crept back into my life. I was dreading work the next day, especially since I had received an email from Lily’s parents just warning me that they expect a rough transition for their little girl the next day.
So I came to work 100% prepared for the worst – armed with my best known reinforcers – and I walked into the school with a heavy heart. However, as soon as I stepped out onto the play yard, I saw a tiny little figure dressed in purple dashing towards me, and the next thing I knew, I had a little girl wrapped around my legs. I looked down and was so happy to see Lily! We quickly entered into a vibrant discussion about her vacation, and from that moment on, I knew it was going to be a good day. Whether we were able to accomplish specific behavioral goals or not, I knew that a rapport between us had been built base don her excitement to see me, and that alone was a win in my book. But Lily was amazing the whole day! Plus, I discovered a potential reinforcer that kept her engaged whenever she started to spin out of control, helping her refocus on each activity. She even accomplished the projects assigned to her (which has been rare lately), and I could not have been more pleased. Lily’s teacher approached me at the end of the day and said she had never seen this much focus from Lily before and was excited about what the future held. She shook my hand and thanked me over and over, and my heart was ablaze with pride.
It really was as if my Higher Power knew I needed the encouragement and somehow gave my little Lily a sense of peace and calm to help ME transition. Even if it’s just coincidence, or karma, or whatever else, I am still so incredibly thankful. I know I have much to learn about being a Behaviorist, but as of now, I really do believe this is where I belong. I was reminded of my love for working with kiddos and the importance of falling back to that passion whenever I feel discouraged. And that – that feeling of being right where I am supposed to be- above all things is the best opponent for inadequacy that I could ever ask for.
So right now, I’m walking on a cloud! A beautiful, behavioral analyst cloud and I’m going to ride it for as long and as far as I can. Look out behavioral world…here I come!