Song Lyric Saturday with Christina Aguilera

In case you haven’t been able to find a pattern, I’m a huge 90s-2000s pop fan. Christina Aguilera is one of the best. As of writing this post, I haven’t listened to all of her new album, Liberated, yet, so I can’t say whether I like it or not.

I’ve always liked Christina’s take-no-bullshit attitude. She came from an abusive home and singing became her escape. She went through a few phases throughout her career and is back for more, but this time more mature.

I picked the song “Keeps Getting Better”- it’s from her “Decade of Hits” album.

Basically, she’s like “I’m me, I’m not going anywhere. Deal with it.” I love that so much because it shows confidence, self- esteem and determination. That’s her in a sentence.

Christina has many years ahead of her- I can’t wait to finish her new album.

Getting Assistance for Your Child: Essential Questions to Ask

It’s Not a Parenting Failure to Get Help

I once told my mother that there is a reason that people spend a long time in school, take really hard tests (in some cases, more than once. I’ve been told the BCBA exam is horribly difficult) and get observed for a lot of hours to become mental health professionals. They are dedicated to what they want to do. They have to continue that education by taking classes and renewing their licenses every so often. States want to make sure these professionals know what they are doing and do so ethically. I also told her that there is only so much that I can do as a parent, even knowing what I do. There are a lot of things that I don’t know, and that’s why I felt that at one point, it was time to get outside help for my kids.

In Lily’s case, there wasn’t much of an option. Her delays were severe and required outside help. She needed help learning how to walk, talk and do other tasks that I couldn’t have taught her on my own. In the beginning, I really did blame myself, but after hearing that there was no way I caused her delays, I felt a lot better.

Julian definitely caused some debate. I knew what I was working with after he was diagnosed, and yes, I could have worked with him on my own. With two other kids and a full-time job, plus not really knowing what to do or how to do it, it really was time for the pros. He’s been to group therapy for social skills, which helped a lot. Every Tuesday for almost his entire third-grade year, he got out of school early to go to group. He learned how to interact with others appropriately, to speak up, along with other things. Julian is a quiet kid by nature, and we’re okay with this.

I just don’t want him to be so quiet that he is ignored or entirely left out. He has also seen a psychiatrist, and we loved her. Unfortunately, she had to stop seeing patients after some post-birth complications, so now he sees a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

It is okay to get outside help. We’re not just parents- we are also humans. We don’t know everything, and that’s okay. Your child will benefit greatly from outside services.

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Finding Assistance

There are many ways to find providers, it mainly depends on what you need and if you already have someone helping you, like a social worker or someone similar. If you’re looking on your own, it always helps to start by asking other parents you know that are in a similar situation. You can also ask your child’s pediatrician.

That’s where we started with both Lily and Julian. We moved around a bit by referral. It just so happens I used to work with the psychiatrist that started the practice that Julian is at now. (He’s absolutely great, but for obvious reasons, he can’t see Julian.) If nothing else, there is always Google. Google is everyone’s friend.

A Few Definitions:

Provider- a professional that provides some sort of service for your child

BCBA- Board Certified Behavior Analyst (these people do great things, lots of behavior modification, addressing challenging behavior, among other things)

DSP- Direct Support Provider (people who come into your home and work with your child on life skills, social skills and other things they may need. I worked as one for about a year and it was a lot of fun.)

Respite Care- to give parents or other caregivers time to care for themselves, run errands, etc while their child is being cared for.

I highly recommend checking with your health insurance carrier/Medicaid to see what is covered. These services can get very expensive, and insurance paperwork can be a huge challenge. Waiting lists are a thing and can be very long. It can be a bit weird seeing people you don’t know in your home and working with your child. This may take a while to adjust, especially if there are multiple people. Lily had three therapists a week at one point and it was a very weird thing. If you need to set limits, set them and be as firm as you need to be.

What You Should Ask

There are some questions that can’t be missed like:

  • What is your availability?
  • What experience do you have with this population?
  • Are there behaviors that you feel are too challenging for you? Everyone has their limits, and this is okay. My personal limit is spitting. Can’t do it.
  • How do you view your relationship with the rest of the family- siblings, parents, etc?
  • Best way to reach you? Phone, email, text?
  • How will you update me on my child’s progress/needs?
  • Emergency preparedness? Most agencies have trained their workers on a plan for this, so make sure to ask. The practice I worked for had a very detailed plan for injuries, weather and other emergencies.
  • References.

Of course, follow your intuition on the people/places you look at. If it doesn’t look right for you, most likely it isn’t. You will know when you find the right place or person for your child. Call those references. Read through the notes you made during the interviews. Do your research. You’ll thank yourself later. If you are looking for your child to be part of a practice, the questions above will be slightly different. Most places will allow a walk-through and give you someone to talk to. They’ll be able to answer questions, give you information to take home, and follow up.

The road of parenting is sometimes a rough and bumpy one. Looking for outside help is just a small speed bump.

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Information courtesy of Seattle Children’s Blog

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Easy Peasy Pleasy

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Twin Mummy and Daddy

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Healing Through Creativity: Art and Hippo Therapy

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some truly awesome people. I’ve worked with teachers, nurses, psychiatrists, and more. I’ve seen some of my mental health worker friends go on to do some great things. Some have become nurses, teachers, and one has become a psychologist (he started out as a program specialist). I wanted to examine “unconventional” types of therapy, meaning those that you wouldn’t usually see in an office setting.

Today’s post features two of my former co-workers from the same facility. Brenda was a special education teacher who retired in 2017. She was one of the best teachers I’ve ever met and also has been a great friend- during my bad times, I would sit in her classroom and cry. She’s given me lots of pointers in life and is so much fun to talk to. She also has a great passion for horses, which led me to talk to her about hippotherapy.

Ashley was a mental health worker and she shared the same passion that I did for the kids we worked with. I wasn’t able to work with her very long because I left the facility. She’s a very sweet woman, and I was delighted to hear of her becoming an art therapist. I’m always happy to hear when people reach their dreams and move on to better things. When I came up with the idea for this post, I knew she would be the best person to ask.

Thank you, Ashley and Brenda. It means a lot that the two of you took the time to talk to me.

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Art Therapy is More Than Just Drawing

Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about art therapy. I didn’t even know what kind of degree is needed to be an art therapist. I know that it is done mostly in groups, but can be done individually. It can also be done in hospitals or in other settings. Luckily, Ashley knows a lot more. I was able to contact Ashley via email due to her busy work schedule. She works at a juvenile correctional facility in Louisville, KY as a Mental Health Professional.

Ashley graduated in 2016 from the University of Louisville with a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services degree with a specialty in Art Therapy. She has become a Licensed Art Therapy Associate (LPATA), Registered Art Therapist (ATR), and Licensed Practicing Counselor Associate (LPCA). She is scheduled to take her exam to become a board certified Art Therapist in September. She has been working in this area since September 2016.

I asked what inspired her to go into art therapy and she stated this (directly from her email):

I graduated from Georgetown College in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I specialized in studio art throughout my undergraduate studies. The therapeutic relationship with my artwork is what really sparked my belief in the healing components of art making. I was able to use my artwork as a way to express myself freely and honestly. Having an uncensored outlet allowed me to confront grudges of a traumatic childhood and process through mental health issues that stemmed from it.

Artwork was the one thing that challenged me to face my fears and empowered me to overcome them. After doing some research, I was thrilled to learn that art therapy existed AND that there was a licensed profession to boot! There was no question that this was my calling. Here I am, 8 years later, assisting others in finding their own strength and paving their way to freedom.

I thought this was an amazing response, which is why it is directly quoted. Once you find your passion, I’m a firm believer in doing it. Ashley is one of the lucky ones. I have also been lucky enough to live mine, in some way or another. Mine was to help people- over the past decade, I have been able to do that. Some people never find their passion, and that is a very troubling thing.

Art therapists work in a variety of populations and locations. They also work in different art mediums. Ashley works with a really interesting population- incarcerated adolescents. I’ve worked with kids similar to this, and it can be very challenging. She says:

I provide individual and group psychotherapy that incorporates art therapy assessment and intervention. Art therapy assessments are used to gather information, assess their mental state, and determine their mental health needs. Art therapy interventions are used to help clients express themselves and explore aspects of their life that they may have suppressed or struggle to confront. Both art therapy assessments and interventions utilize art media to include 2D and 3D materials. Art media is determined upon client’s presenting mental state and concerns that are being addressed. Art media can range from drawing with a pencil on white paper to constructing large sculptures with found objects.

There are misconceptions about art therapy, and I asked Ashley to address those. Her response was:

The misconception I run into most is that art therapy is viewed as a leisure activity and often discredited. I wish I had a dollar for every time art therapy has been referred to as “art class” or “play time”. Art therapy is one of the most effective forms of mental health treatment because it allows access to suppressed memories, thoughts, and feelings that many cannot or will not express on their own. I’ve had many clients’ artwork that “accidentally” shares aspects of themselves and their lives that they had no intention of disclosing. Often times, these “accidents” expose the true, underlying issues of mental health concern. Art therapy has the potential to break down the walls that reveal that not-so-perfect road that people have detoured. It just so happens that this journey down that not-so-perfect road comes exclusively with color, creativity, and a chance to step out of your comfort zone!

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Hippotherapy Isn’t About Hippos

Brenda has a deep love for horses, and she even had one named Billie Jean, after the Michael Jackson song. He was her favorite singer. I had no idea that horses needed a test to be able to be considered for hippotherapy until we discussed the questions for this post. (Brenda and I had a wonderful lunch.)

Temperament Is Important

Horses have personalities just like we do. Some are calmer than others, some listen to commands well and some don’t. However, some horses just know to be gentle with people. A hippotherapist is usually a Physical or Occupational Therapist, and they have assistance from others to encourage both the horse and rider. These therapists have studied anatomy and other areas to know what will be therapeutic for the rider. Riders can go with or without a saddle pad. Sometimes a Speech Therapist is needed to help the rider with speech issues, for example, the child can try to give small commands to the horse as a part of therapy.

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Connections Are Made

Brenda has been a side and lead person in hippotherapy sessions, mainly due to her experience as a special education teacher. This means she has led horses and been on the side to assist children and adults as they ride. She currently works with adults with disabilities with tasks such as giving horses baths and grooming. This is done at her barn.

Brenda told me a story about a child that she once saw. *Laura was a child with autism and was non-verbal. She had limited social skills but loved horses. Her mother took her to the country a lot just to look at them. She also spent a lot of time drawing and looking at books about horses. Her mother, however, was terrified of horses. An older horse, about 25 years old, was found for Laura, and she was allowed to ride. After three sessions, she was more confident. She wanted the reigns, was all smiles and seemed more independent. After eight sessions, she got off the horse, hugged her and said, “I love you, Betsy”. Three days later, she told her mother “I love you, Mom.”

When a non-verbal child speaks, it’s a big thing. It’s even bigger when they say “I love you” to a parent.

That shows the power of a horse.

Misconceptions of hippotherapy

Brenda stated that the main thing that she has seen is that people don’t know enough about the healing power of the horse. This is true because I don’t know anything. Most people I know don’t. Special needs children have a hard time expressing themselves, so it is hard to explain it to others. This is very understandable. It definitely deserves more research and understanding.

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Would you consider unconventional therapy? What do you think of art, hippo, music or other therapies?

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Run Jump Scrap

Guest Post with Kirsten

I found this to be so helpful and hope that others do too! Thanks so much, Kirsten!

5 Effective Ways to Overcome Squirrel Syndrome

You’re in your home office. You sit down, power up your computer and get logged in. You think, man this computer is slow, I should look into getting a new one. It’s time to upgrade anyway. The computer finally boots up and you do your normal routine of checking emails, checking your site stats and then you decide to really hunker down and get some real work done.

You’ve got your list of things that you know you need to do and start working on them. Halfway through that first task, you realize another more urgent task you need to get done. So you switch to that task. 15 minutes later, another task catches your eye and you start working on that.

The more you think about it the more your to-do list piles up. Then you start to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worry if you’ll actually be able to get any of it done. As you try to get a grip on all of these things you need to get done you realize that you’re not really handling anything. Somehow, you’ve worked yourself into a mini panic attack without doing anything in particular.

You realize it was like this the last day you worked. In fact, almost every day you’re working you always seem to be chasing squirrels. You work yourself into exhaustion, yet you somehow can’t recall anything specific you did. It’s all kind of a blur.

Life and work don’t have to be this way. If you struggle with anxiety and depression you may realize that this type of thing happens way more often than you’d like.

And odds are you may even have ADD or ADHD mixed in. That’s quite the mental illness cocktail! However, let me tell you there are steps you can to overcome this. Like creating a new habit, mental focus takes practice and lots of it. Get into a routine and follow these 5 effective ways to overcome squirrel syndrome.

Prioritize.
You can’t do everything at once. The old myth of multitasking has trained us to think that by doing several things at once we’re being more productive. However, studies have shown the opposite to be true. By multitasking productivity is reduced, there are more errors, stress is increased, and memory is impaired.

Instead, make a list of all the tasks you need to get done that day. Do spend more than 5 minutes making this list. After you’ve made your list highlight the top 3 things that you MUST get done that day.

Start with the first most pressing task and work on that. Do NOT move on to the next task until that first one is finished. Only when you’ve completed the first task should you allow yourself to move on to the next. You’ll work more efficiently this way because you won’t waste time switching gears and then back again. It will also stop you from getting so overwhelmed you do nothing at all.

Radio Silence.
You’ve decided you’re not checking your messages, yet you are still aware that your phone is buzzing. If even after turning off notifications you find you’re still thinking about your phone, you’re still distracted. Don’t be afraid to put your phone in your desk drawer and close it so you don’t see that flashing light alerting you of another new notification. Truly disconnect here so that you are not distracted. If it’s important enough, they’ll leave a message.

Admit you’re distracted.
Yes, it’s ok to admit this. It happens to the best of us. Just telling yourself “I’m distracted” activates a brain circuit that makes it easier to drop what’s irrelevant and get back to focusing on what’s important. But make sure you do not dwell here. Admit it and immediately take action to remedy it.

Take breaks.
I’ll admit, I’m the worst at this. I tend to forget to take breaks because when I am focused it’s hard to pull away. Luckily what I have found works for me, is to have an accountability partner (“AP”). My AP reminds me when it’s time to take a break. And sometimes just knowing that she is going to remind me, triggers my brain to realize when it’s time to take a break as well.

A study found that workers were most productive when they worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute break. Ideally, that break time should be spent away from your desk.

If you work in an environment where taking breaks every hour isn’t possible, try to at least take mini-breaks, even if it’s just mentally. Most workplaces are pretty good about letting their employees take frequent breaks because they realize the stress that overworking can cause. If you’re an entrepreneur and work from home, you may need to be more mindful of this task.

Set reminders in your calendar to alert you when you should be taking a break.
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, find time to eat lunch away from your workspace. Focus on the food youโ€™re eating. Indulge in the smell and taste of your food. If you can go outside. Either eat outside or go for a walk. Notice the smells. Breathe in the fresh air.

Witness the vibrant colors of the trees, buildings, cars, or sky around you. Be present in the moment and do not think about what’s waiting for you back at your desk.
Once your break is over, return to your desk and attack your tasks with a vengeance. You’ll be surprised how much clearer your mind is and how much faster your work gets done.

Rest.
How do you know you’re not getting enough sleep? You may find yourself nodding off during meetings. Or you feel foggy and slow. Exhaustion effectively lowers your IQ and reduces (if not entirely eliminates) your ability to concentrate.
If you’re feeling fuzzy or especially sleepy, squeeze in a 10-20-minute power nap instead of ignoring your drowsiness.

Resist the urge to power through with caffeine. Of course, it can provide a temporary boost, but studies have shown it stops being effective after multiple days of sleep deprivation. Also, the post-caffeine crash can be devastating.

Instead of trying to band-aid the gaping gash of tiredness with caffeine, fix the issue. Take the necessary steps to get enough sleep at night. If that means you need to adjust your routine, do so. By getting enough sleep, you’ll awaken ready to take on the world with renewed focus.

By following these strategies regularly you’re exercising your brain to have better mental focus. This not only helps in the workplace with tasks you need to get done but also for tasks that need to be tackled throughout your life. Training your brain this way will greatly reduce your anxiety, depression and any attention deficit you may have. Give these a try!

About the Author
Kirsten Weinzierl is the owner of ObtainingBliss.com. She loves and truly believes in the power of personal development, self-care and self-reflection. She writes with humor and discusses topics like relationships, parenthood, body happiness and her love of food. However, she also writes about tough topics like depression, anxiety, suicide, and domestic violence.
You can check out her blog at:
Obtaining Bliss
You can also connect with her on the following Social Media platforms:
Facebook
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Pics: pinterest and Unsplash

Real Stories of a (Former) Mental Health Worker

Note: There is this gorgeous law (HIPAA) that prevents me from using real names in this post, and so I will use an asterisk when needed to indicate that names were changed. I will also not use the actual names of the facilities I worked at for similar reasons, because I’m not trying to get sued. I’m a blogger and stay at home mom, not a millionaire.

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. This post is dedicated to my former co-workers (especially my Resource Team friends) and mental health professionals everywhere.

It’s a rough profession and deserves a lot more respect than it gets. It’s also very rewarding, which is one of the many reasons why I am glad that I chose psychology as my field of work.

A Few Definitions

I know not everyone understands these terms, so here are some definitions to help you out a bit:

Mental Health Technician/Mental Health Worker/Mental Health Associate: these are all pretty much the same, depending on where you work. I’ve been called all three.

1:1: a patient that requiring someone is with them at all times, whether they are asleep or not, sometimes both. This can get very tedious, and sometimes you have to stay within arms’ reach of the patient for safety reasons.

Code: this is not the code you see on TV. This code is for physical backup when things get out of hand, mainly when a patient is being aggressive, destructive or a combo. These are called for a variety of reasons, but these are the two most common ones.

Resource Team- an amazing team of people trained to work on every inpatient unit in a mental health facility. They are responsible for knowing everything about all the units, and they catch hell for messing up. It’s a great team to be a part of because they stick together and you never know what will happen next or where you will be. It’s also very stressful.

Checks/Rounds: ensuring patient safety by visualizing patients every 15 minutes.

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(I’ve seen C.Diff, and it’s ugly, especially in non-verbal kids. YIKES)

Let me set up the story for you…

In June 2007, Spalding University granted me a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology. Many don’t know this unless you ask, see it in my author bio or on my resume. It took me five years, a change in major (my first major was in apparel design and merchandising- fancy wording for fashion design), school and two kids, but I finally graduated. I also completed a mandatory 100-hour practicum.

I was not prepared for my first job out of college. I had gotten a job as a Mental Health Technician at *Clear Lake Hospital and I was a bit nervous but ready to start my career. I started the week after I finished classes. (I walked June 2, but still to finish my last class, which was sheer torture.) I did fine in orientation but was not happy when I found out that I was placed on the geriatric unit.

What? This facility didn’t let you pick what unit you went to, but I had hoped I wasn’t going to get put on a unit I didn’t like. I was not thrilled about being placed on this unit, known as the *Willow Tree Unit. I wanted to transfer immediately, but there was a policy preventing me from doing so for 6 months. I decided to wait it out.

Two months into that wait, I discovered that I was pregnant with Lily. My OB/GYN told me that I would be better off where I was because the pregnancy was not an easy one from the beginning.

A different unit would be a faster pace and could result in more issues with my pregnancy. I decided to stay put so that Lily would have a better chance of being okay. I ended up liking the *Willow Tree Unit.

The staff was nice- I was the youngest tech on first shift. Once word got around that I was pregnant, the nurses and other techs took care of me.

One afternoon, my shoes became untied and I couldn’t reach them because my belly was huge. I burst into tears and one of my fellow techs tied them for me. She understood the struggle- she’d been in my spot two years before.

I didn’t get to finish out the pregnancy on that unit- I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks (on Cameron’s 3rd birthday, of all days) and my OB/GYN told me that I would have to stop working or go on light duty, basically a desk job.

I chose the desk job because we needed the money. I went to medical records for all of five weeks or so. The ladies there were nice and began a betting pool on when Lily would show up. Lily shares a birthday with one of the ladies in the office, which everyone found hilarious.

Thanks to Kentucky state budget cuts, the *Willow Tree Unit was closed down while I was on light duty, and when I came back from maternity leave, I was sent to an acute care unit. I was better suited for that unit and stayed there until I left in June 2008 for a counseling position in Indiana.

The Real Fun Begins

In late 2010, I was ready for a new and closer to home position. I found another Mental Health Worker position at *MidRiver Regional Hospital. This time, I was able to pick where I wanted to go, because it was in the application. I would be on the Resource Team. It sounded very interesting and kind of fun.

I was absolutely right. Orientation was a bit boring- but that’s where I met Josh (Jake’s older brother) so I call that a win. I had to shadow for a couple of weeks on each unit- a couple of days with another worker, and then I was unleashed.

The very first day was a day that is forever etched in my mind- I was on *2West, a unit that was then used for kids from 12-18 with autism and other developmental disabilities. It was super loud, wild and some of the kids were way bigger than me.

What did I sign up for?

I took a huge deep breath, looked at my assignment sheet and kept going.

I spent two years on the Resource Team. It was a lot of fun- full of laughs, friends, and a few mishaps. I’ve run after people that eloped, including one that I chased across a busy street along with another worker. The kid ran off at a hospital and we did catch her. I’ve been punched in the head. I even caught a stereo cord to the face.

I was with a 1:1 and the patient was very upset about her Justin Beiber CD was repeatedly skipping. I told her that maybe it was time to try a different activity, and tried to unplug the stereo. She picked it up, then dropped it, and when I went to pick it up, she hit me in the face with the cord.

A code was immediately called and I was taken off the floor. I was taken to the main nursing office to get my face looked at.

I called Matthew to get me from work, and he took me to a nearby hospital- I ended up with three liquid stitches. You can barely see the scar today. I took the next day off because my eye was so swollen that I had a hard time seeing out of it, and let me tell you, tetanus shots are not fun.

As for the patient, she was so upset when she found out what happened to me, she became hysterical. I was one of her favorite staff members. She had to be medicated to calm down. She apologized the next time she saw me.

While I was working at this facility, things were not that great at home. Julian wasn’t diagnosed until late 2011. I was struggling a lot internally with both anxiety and depression. You can read about those events in A Letter to my Anxiety and Depression and Looking At the Bright Side

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I was able to lose myself in my work. I loved being able to help others and work with great people. We had a lot of fun on the good days and on the not so good days, pull together and make things work. That, to me, is the definition of teamwork.

In March 2013, I had a mini-stroke. My neurologist suggested afterward that I needed to start looking for ways to lessen or eliminate stress in my life. By this point, I was ready to leave the Resource Team- it was getting too stressful for me. Some people leave after months, some people stay the entire time they are at the facility.

I started thinking about which unit would be a good fit. I was pretty much done with adults- that was where the bulk of my work had been, and I needed something different. I had realized that I really enjoyed the kids on *2West and the staff was great.

I’d volunteer to go there when other people didn’t want to go- it was a rough unit. I didn’t really enjoy cleaning poop off walls (who does? I can’t make this up, it really happens) but it had become my favorite unit.

It took a few months of waiting, but a position opened up. By then, I had met Jake, and that was his home unit. I applied, interviewed and got the full-time Mental Health Associate position. My Resource Team friends were sad to see me go (my friend Scott begged me not to go), but they were not surprised to hear where I was going.

It turns out that going to *2West was the best career move I’ve ever made. I loved it. Those kids were not always the easiest to work with- I’ve been kicked in the eye, had my hair pulled out in clumps, broken my big left toe twice and in the same way. It still doesn’t bend correctly. I’ve seen all kinds of naked kids. I’ve left work scratched and bruised from multiple holds. I’ve gotten sick from these kids- strep throat can go through 20 kids fast.

I also learned a lot- how to sign (some), how to learn about a kid even when they are non-verbal. I learned that some families are worse than you can imagine and even the ones that look great are horrible.

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Autism is not seen as often in girls, but when it is, it tends to be severe. One of my favorite kids was a tall, thin girl named *Michelle. She was a runner and I got lots of exercise running after her in the halls. She was also non-verbal but showed her feelings by squeezing your hands.

She squeezed my hands every day to say “hello” and “goodbye” but if she was angry, she would pull on your arms while squeezing your hands. She was so much fun to work with. When she left, she bent down to hug me goodbye, and both *Claire (her behavior analyst) and I cried. That’s a very unusual thing.

Taylor Swift sing-a-longs were a regular thing and so were movie days on the weekends. We tried to make things as fun as we could for the kids. We took them outside and let them play as much as they were able to on the playground. We got the kids out of bed, fed them, got them through their days and back into bed- for some of them, we were more of a family to them than their own.

*Mason was a kid who saw us exactly like that. I met him while doing checks and he was in the shower singing “Baby Got Back”. He was hilarious, and once beatboxed to me about needing toothpaste.

However, he came from a family that didn’t treat him well, which contributed to some of the reasons he came to the facility. Once, I was planning an outing with another associate, and he asked us to take him and the other patients to a strip club. That did not happen, but we laughed hysterically after he left the room.

These kids were so funny, smart in their own way. I couldn’t have asked for better co-workers. Some days entirely sucked, but it was still a fun adventure. My last day there was September 2, 2015. I left after being told about Jake’s death, and I came back two days later to get my things and leave my nurse manager a note telling her I wouldn’t be back.

I couldn’t write this post without mentioning Jake, Austin, Scott (not the one mentioned earlier), Cisco or Colleen. I lost these co-workers while working with them or after and each loss was a bad one. They left behind families that loved them and patients that they touched. They worked hard (Cisco got electrocuted trying to keep a patient safe) and had a lot of love for their patients.

I’m retired from this line of work- thanks to my RA diagnosis. My rheumatologist would go ballistic. I am left with so many memories and friends. That’s what work and life are all about.

All pics are my personal pics except for one pin on my Pinterest board. Pinterest