Last Thursday afternoon, Clay ran up the driveway from the bus, left his sneakers on the kitchen floor, his jacket on the counter and dropped a trail of pretzel sticks through the living room, up the stairs and into his bedroom, where I found him wrapped in his covers trying to burrow into the wall next to his bed. I could see it was going to be one of those “high energy” afternoons.
For the past few months we’ve been lucky enough to have a guy provided by a county agency to come work with Clay about 10 hours a week. Lucky because it can be a crap shoot when the agency assigns someone to you. Our new guy is a cut above. He understands Clay, and he understands allergies. He has been hit by allergies worse than anyone I know this spring.
When he showed up (officially he is called a TSS – therapeutic staff support) for a two-hour session, he and I both knew it would be a tough afternoon. The TSS has been having success lately using the keyboard, but he couldn’t get Clay into the room where his computer is, let alone get him talking through the keyboard. Clay stood within earshot listening to the music the TSS was playing as bait, but wasn’t about to be lured in. I was ready to write the afternoon off as just one of those days. The TSS wasn’t giving up that easily.
The following exchange took place after I managed to maneuver Clay into the room:
TSS speaking: Clay, I see you are having a tough time focusing today. Can you just give me a minute to tell me what you are feeling? Are you feeling hyper?
Clay typing on the keyboard: Yes
TSS speaking: Is it too hard for you to work on typing right now?
Clay on the keyboard: Yes
TSS speaking: What do you do when you feel this way?
Clay on the keyboard: Walk (No surprise there. Clay puts more mileage on his shoes in a day than Johnny Appleseed did in a lifetime.)
TSS speaking: Thanks for letting me know. Let’s go outside where you can walk.
Cue the sound of Clay pounding down the wooden stairs and out the back door.
The little guy knows just what he needs. You just have to be smart enough to ask.