Don’t take it personally

Posted: November 2, 2011 in Music Therapy

I was picking up a client today from the ABA clinic.  He has autism, and sometimes has troubles with transitions.  Today was one of those days.  He added a new wrinkle to the usual screaming, stomping, and biting his hand by hauling off and slapping me.  Knocked my glasses off.  It was a little bit of a shock, but one of the hardest things for me to do in that situation is to not take that kind of thing personally.  I was really ready to not give him his reinforcer at the end of the session, but once he had gotten to music, he had calmed down and did fine.  When he has had these temper tanturms in the past, I stop the music and wait for him to calm down.  This usually flusters him and he begins requesting that I start playing.  I then wait until he has really calmed down, and then we start/continue.  Today was like that, and he ended up having a very good session.  As much as I wanted to not give him his rubber lizards, I had to remember that the slap wasn’t personal.  It didn’t even hurt.  He did his work, he earned his lizards.

Moral of the story: don’t take it personally.  A lot of consumers have problems that they can’t help.  If you’re going to reinforce good behavior, don’t hold the bad stuff over their head.

Thanks for reading.

  1. Roia says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you got slapped. Damn. I’m nursing a couple of wicked scratch wounds this week from someone who really struggles with transitions as well. It’s true, our clients aren’t attacking us, personally, but it’s hard not to feel attacked. Sounds as if you were able to respond in the role of music therapist, which is half the battle. Good for you. Be safe!

    • themtguy says:

      Thanks – it wasn’t anywhere close to worst I’ve ever gotten, it was just a good reminder for me. Sorry you got hurt as well. It’s one of those occupational hazards other people don’t always understand.

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