The Blob Tree (and a few questions)

October 22nd, 2009

(Note: All names are changed whenever I talk about clients).

“So, Michael, how are you today?” I asked my client at the beginning of our treatment session this week as I placed a copy of the “Blob Tree” in front of him.

blob tree black white

I learned about the “Blob Tree” (created by Pip Wilson and Ian Long) in graduate school where one of my clinical supervisors used it with a group of clients who had aphasia (an acquired language disorder as the result of a stroke).

The beautiful thing about the “Blob Tree” is that people can use it to communicate how they are feeling, even if they cannot articulate it verbally.  I loved the “Blob Tree” from the first moment I saw it and immediately added it to my arsenal of treatment materials.  After I graduated, I took it with me out into the workforce, even though I wasn’t going to work with adults who’ve had strokes.  Instead, I use it with children who have Autism.

And little Michael is a young boy with Autism.

“Hmm,” he said as he studied the tree I had placed in front of him.

blob tree Michael

This one is me,” he declared as he circled one of the Blobs, then he smiled and genuine joy sounded in his voice, “This one is me because I’m so glad you’re back!”

The Blob he circled was smiling and had its arm around the Blob next to it.

My heart melted at Michael’s unexpected response and sincere happiness.  Michael was the only client I had served before Snuggles’ birth who was able to remain on my caseload when I returned from maternity leave.

“Oh, Michael,” I replied, “Thank you!”

blob tree Heidi

Then I circled the Blob next to his and responded, “This one is me, because I’m so glad I’m back, too!”

Michael suddenly looked in my eyes and we shared a moment of shining smiles and mutual joy.

—-

So how is it going??

I’ve completed my second week back at work and it couldn’t be going better.  I was anxious at first, wondering if it would be too much for me to be a mom to two kids full-time during the day and then try to work at night.  But so far, it’s been great.  The first night I went back, I walked in the back door, looked around and just smiled.

The receptionist welcomed me with a smile, “It’s good to have you back, Heidi!”

I smiled back, assessed the warm glow inside of me and said with honest contentment, “It’s good to be back!”

I don’t know how I ever got so lucky as to stumble onto the field of speech-language pathology as my career choice, but I couldn’t have picked a job that suited me better.  I live and breathe speech-language pathology like it’s been part of me my whole life.  And it’s wonderful to love what someone will pay for me to do. :)

How often are you working?

I work two nights a week and I adjusted my hours to be later so that I can be home for family dinner and getting Snuggles ready for bed before I leave.

When I told my boss the hours I was willing to work when I came off maternity leave, I honestly didn’t think they’d find clients willing to come in that late.  But it wasn’t worth it to me to miss dinner or work on Saturdays again, so I figured I probably wouldn’t get as much work and it would just take us a bit longer to pay off our debt.

So I was incredibly surprised and grateful when they were able to completely fill the times I offered with clients I absolutely love–what a blessing!

Unexpected blessings

While it’s definitely busier when I’m a mother and working, I’ve been surprised at the unexpected blessings that have come when I work.

I manage my time better.

I’m more disciplined and motivated to complete tasks at home.

I’m willing to cut out nonessential tasks.

I enjoy and appreciate my down time more.

For the first time in Heidi Email History, there are no emails in my inbox.

On the nights I work, I’m able to (seemingly miraculously) maintain my energy level through the night.

I’m not sure why this is, but I’m very grateful for these “side effects” of working.  (And I wish I could have them even when I’m not working!) :)

How long are you going to work?

We don’t know. :)

If things remain as they are, it will take some years to pay off the losses from selling our house, so I’m preparing myself for the long haul (hence the adjusted work schedule–so it’s something I could live with for a long period of time).

But, if the Lord sees fit to change our circumstances, then it may be shorter than we think.

Either way, we’re very, very grateful that I can do this.  While I never thought I’d have to work outside the home once I became a mother, I’m so glad that I can since we need it.  And I’m so grateful that I can still be with my children full-time and I only miss out on “Heidi time” at night (since Charming is always studying). :)

We feel very blessed.