(Note: All names are changed whenever I talk about work).
Last week, I mentioned that I’ve cut back to working just one night a week and I really love it. It’s just enough, yet not too much–you know what I mean?
I have just two clients and I love them both. We’ve developed great rapport and they’re both smart, engaging and hard-working little kids. We have a good routine going and I’m usually able to keep my work time down to exactly 2 hours.
Then a couple weeks ago, I was thrown a curve ball…
“Pediatric Therapy, this is Janet,” the front desk aide answered.
“Hi, Janet, it’s Heidi,” I replied, making my routine call in to the clinic before work that evening, “How do things look for me tonight?”
“Hi, Heidi!” Janet said, “One of your clients had to cancel, so we found a fill-in client. Do you remember Jared? You did his evaluation a couple months ago.”
“Jared, yeah, I remember him,” I replied.
“I’ll pull his file for you to look over when you come in,” Janet offered.
“Thank you, that would be great!” I smiled.
As I drove into work later that evening, I tried to remember what I’d recommended for his treatment goals. I recalled that Jared had a cleft palate at birth that had been repaired through surgery. But he still had velopharyngeal insufficiency (or VPI). This VPI allowed air to escape into his nasal cavity during speech which decreased the loudness level of his voice and made it sound hypernasal.
Aha! I remembered, Loudness level!
I had written goals for Jared to produce more loudness when speaking.
After reaching the clinic, I entered my office and gathered a few materials for our session. Then Jared arrived and we chatted for a bit until I introduced our goals for the session and we began therapy. Jared worked well for me and steadily progressed through the increasingly difficult speech tasks I presented.
Toward the end, I pulled out one of my favorite speech tasks:
Heidi’s Question Jar
It’s a jar of random open-ended questions that I save as one of my more “difficult” speech tasks. For this task, the child has to mentally process and answer an open-ended question while utilizing their new skill at the same time (in Jared’s case, this new skill was speaking with more loudness).
As I read the questions outloud to Jared, I silently reflected on what I would answer if someone had asked me these questions…..
Oooh, I wish I could remember everything. Everything about my entire life.
Really, really cold. You can always put more on, but you can only take off so much. Plus being hot makes me cranky.
Ha! What do I NOT worry about?
Hm, I’ve never thought about that before… Huh, I think right here.
Wow. What a great question.
If I’d been asked this question three years ago, I don’t know what I would have said. But it probably would have had something to do with my education or career.
But now. When I read this question, the answer is immediate and absolute. And priceless.