Valentine's Day is next week, and with that comes talk of love. This week The Frenzied SLPs are talking about those times when love hurts. As SLPs, we work with a wide range of student abilities, and most of our kiddos have needs other than communication which are also impacting their performance in the school setting. There are times when these needs can escalate and things can turn physical. Here is just one instance I have experienced that has made an impact on me. Some details have been altered to protect student confidentiality.
Here's what happened:
A few years back I was working one-on-one with a second grade student whose compliance and behavior could switch from angelic to physically aggressive without warning. It was near the beginning of the school year, and I was new to this building, so it was still during those first few weeks when I was getting to know my caseload.
As we walked down the hallway to my therapy room, this student seemed to be in a good mood. He asked me about what I did last night, and we chit-chatted as we walked. Once we got in my room, I started to explain what we were going to learn that day. Well, he decided that didn't fit with his plans and proceeded to walk over to my desk.
I attempted to lure him back to our work table, and he went for anything and everything on my desk. Task cards, papers, my laptop and cell phone - anything and everything he grabbed and threatened to break. I was shocked! This was not the sweet boy I had just walked down the hallway with!
Next he bolted for the door. Luckily I was quicker and got there ahead of him and was able to close it before he got out into the hallway, but then he proceeded to swear at me and kick me in the shin. Multiple times. I tried threatening to write him up, I tried actually writing him up, and I tried ignoring the behavior. But nothing was going to stop him from swearing at me and trying to kick me.
Thank goodness the special education teacher chose that moment to come back to our room. She helped get him calmed down and regulated. If she hadn't chosen that moment to come back, I don't know how far this would have escalated.
What I learned:
1. READ student files - If I had taken the time to read everything in this student's previous progress reports/IEPs/evaluation reports, then I would have learned some valuable information about what could set him off and cause him to become disregulated.
2. TALK with your team members - Prior to working with this student, I should have taken time to talk with the special education teacher and this student's paraprofessional to learn what steps should be taken if these types of behaviors arise. Many students have a behavior plan and certain phrases or action steps need to be taken to help them regulate themselves. If all team members learn the procedures, then behavior plans can be followed consistently and students will know what to expect.
3. CONSIDER becoming trained through crisis prevention intervention (CPI) - I will be taking this training in March to help me better know what procedures can be taken to help students who are showing aggression, and to help prevent the aggression from occurring in the first place.
I hope you will read through the other #SLPlovehurts stories. I think we can all agree that these moments are few and far between, and we still love our jobs despite the moments that hurt. If you'd like to share your own "love" story, you can link up using the link below, or share in the comments.