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Getting Our Feet Wet – Part 1

June 12, 2013

At last!  After years of undergraduate studies, braving the application process, and our first two terms, the class of 2014 is finally getting their feet wet with real clients.  A lot of new challenges have come their way, and they have met every one of them with motivation and resolve.

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The way that this summer clinical placement works is each student is paired with another (the treatment team); this team is grouped with another pair to form a consultation team.  They are truly never alone in this experience!  Each treatment team has two clients for whom they are directly responsible, and assist their consultant pair with observing and planning for their own.  Most of the teams have two pediatric clients, though many have one adult and one child.  Some of the challenges were expected and the fledgling clinicians prepared well for them.  Other challenges were… surprising.  Regardless, everyone’s first day is one they will remember forever!  What are some of the memorable experiences the class has had so far?

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First up is a reflection about Sarah Benetti’s first day in clinic:

“May 14th, 2013, the first day of the rest of my life! Finally!

Sarah Benetti One CardI woke up in the morning and got dressed in my carefully chosen outfit.  I couldn’t tell you how nervous I felt!  As with most “first days” of my life, I have some pretty rocking nerves, and the only thing keeping me sane is that I know as soon as the day is over, the “first day nerves” won’t exist anymore; I’ll know what to expect.  I consider myself an easy-going individual and I rarely get anxious about situations anymore, but I used to.  I figure it’s worth the nostalgia to allow myself to feel “first day jitters”.  But that’s where I draw the line.

Most of my volunteer experience has been with adults, and although I have volunteered in a pediatric clinic setting, all the kiddos I’ve seen were charming, compliant little things (or so it seemed to me!) My biggest concern walking into my first day was being assigned to a case where the child just wouldn’t listen, and I wouldn’t know what to do! Heck, the Behaviour Management lecture was two weeks away! But that wouldn’t happen to me…it just couldn’t!

Between a camera crashing to the ground and chasing an escapee who decided it would be fun to join the Corbett Hall Early Education Program (CHEEP) classroom, I wondered if I had spoken too soon. That’s when I tried a different tactic. Positive reinforcement. Telling the children how much I liked their good behaviors, which made them proud, and made my heart grow.

Although my first day didn’t go as I originally envisioned, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I found myself reflecting on the power of a little positivity! All it took was a comment to turn things around.  All little ones want is to be good, they don’t wish to make life difficult.  It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of bad behaviour, and although it is challenging to help them find a route back to a forward moving path, there are exits.

The first day to the rest of my life was a little raucous, but it shook out all of my first day jitters.  I have what it takes to succeed, I can think on my feet, and I’m excited to learn, not just from my CE’s and clinical partners, but from my clients too. ” — Sarah

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Next is from me!

217748_10151394843965406_711931021_n“We are all learning an incredible amount about our clients, and are beginning to understand exactly what we’ve gotten ourselves into with this program.  However, I think my partner and I are having a lot of fun with our young clients, and we’re approaching the puzzles and tasks with enthusiasm.  Perhaps our greatest areas of learning are with working with the kids; it is giving us an opportunity to identify the challenges of working with children and keeping control in the therapy room.  My partner and I are getting better, but we’re not perfect yet.

What did I not expect from my first week in clinic?  I didn’t expect to be planning a Ninja themed assessment or getting ready to dance to “Goin’ on a Gator Hunt”… but now I’m getting excited about upcoming treatment activities and different theme.  Airplanes this week!”  — Lyall

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Next from Anne Haggerty:

“Last session my will was tested and guess who won?.

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I had the interesting experience of having a child be adamant in his “No,” and came very quickly to the realization that you cannot cajole a child into opening their mouth, or making funny faces (or doing anything really) if they don’t want to.  The best you can hope is to get them in a more cooperative mood.  And then try again.

That’s just what my partner and I did.  The first switch was to snack and story.  The second was to bubbles.  Then there was saying “throw” and “catch” as we tossed a ball around.  We kept calm, and changed the situation again and again to have a better interaction.  And we did have a better interaction; all of these things worked quite well to take the pressure off the client (and us). Fun was had and laughs were shared.  But that did not change the fact that he was not going to open his mouth for us.

Though it was somewhat my hope, that in writing it all out, I may come to some grand realization of what should have been done differently.  How another course of action may have produced better results.  I guess that depends on what one was hoping the result to be.  We were able to have our child leave happily, and hopefully come back next time ready to try again.  I’m choosing to look at this series of trials as “rolling with the punches” rather than “accepting defeat.”  — Anne

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The class has grown immensely in professionalism and experience in these first few weeks.  We will hear more from them soon!  Interested in adding your own story?  Leave a comment below!

-Lyall Pacey

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