I MARRIED AN SLP-PART DEUX
Recently, I blogged about my appreciation and semi-reverence for my SLP-wife, Yvonne, and all of you therapists, teachers, clinicians, and other educators who have devoted your professional selves to making the lives of others better. It was an unabashed tribute to you all.
Well, that was before this coronavirus has changed life as we know it!
And now, during these surreal, scary and unprecedented times, you are even more important than ever. I'm witnessing this first hand!
We will venture out past the front gate only to walk our 14 year-old beagle, Charlie.
And, when we do, it's in full mask and social distancing mode.
Kris's days are largely spent climbing the walls, and figuring out ways to blow off steam in his increasingly claustrophobic surroundings.
My days are spent wiping down surfaces, reading harrowing news reports, attending to our educational toy company, SmartFelt Toys, and wondering if I will ever get a job in television again. Hollywood has effectively shut down all operations and who knows how long it will be before a TV Host is willing to rub elbows with a live studio audience again. So things on my work front are extremely dicey.
Well, she's working harder than ever...because when the going gets tough,
the tough get tele-therapying!"
Like most of you, she's entered the Brave New World where a classroom and in person interactions has been replaced by a laptop and an app.
While she would be the first person to tell you she is not the most tech-savvy SLP out there (she's always preferred sensory toys and resources over iPads and keyboards), Yvonne has checked her tech-intimidation at the door and embraced the new normal with vigor and excitement.
The results have been pretty damn great.
How do I know?
Because I eavesdrop on her on a daily basis. And it has been nothing short of enlightening!
From the next room, I get to listen in on her 5 or 6 sessions a day.
My wife would be absolutely the last person on earth to toot her own horn, but there's something about her that lights up the room for her kids, even if that room is a virtual one on the other end of a Zoom-session.
Kids LOVE her and look forward to their sessions together.
At the start of this whole pivot (which she blogged about in The Big Pivot) which thousands of therapists across the world were forced to make, Yvonne didn't know what to expect.
She wasn't sure whether kids would even show up for these sessions, let alone get anything out of them.
After a couple of weeks, however, the results are in.
They do show up (all of them)! And they are getting plenty out of the sessions!
This is the first time I've every had a chance to "see" my wife work. (There's never a "Bring Your Spouse to Work Day! Why not, dammit? I think it would be extremely beneficial if we all got to see what our partners do at work.)
So just as Yvonne has never seen me in a control room setting or in the field conducting a celebrity interview, I have never seen her do speech therapy with kids!
And this has been eye-opening.
I've gotta say, trying to stay as objective as possible, SHE IS AMAZING!
The kids are engaged and vibrant.
They laugh. They share. They tell her how much they miss seeing her in person.
And they do it in those adorable little voices I remember so well from when my 6'5" kid was a little guy.
I hear it all.
The kids gladly play the makeshift games Yvonne has created to keep them on task, and adorably offer up technical help when something goes wrong.
These kids today are so computer savvy, they also serve as Yvonne's own pint-sized IT squad when necessary.
And I've eavesdropped on a wide variety of kids from her caseload.
A couple of days ago, Yvonne mentioned she was about to work with a pair of twin sisters who were selectively mute. They did very little talking, she told me, and when they did choose to speak, it was nothing but one, maybe two, word sentences.
Yvonne also told me their parents were beside themselves with worry that their 8 year olds weren't really talking at home.
Cut to the session.
I heard these sisters open up with Yvonne, chatting waaaaaaay more than they ever had, either in their in-person school sessions or particularly at home with their parents.
I was thinking to myself, are these the same two kids Yvonne was talking about?
At the end of the session, I heard a distinct voice change, and then realized that their mom had jumped on Zoom with Yvonne.
She was uber emotional and unbelievably grateful that her daughters might have turned a speech and language corner.
A pretty damn cool moment, even for a cynical-by-nature tv guy.
Afterwards, Yvonne was extremely happy for the family and hopeful this was a sign of things to come. But there was no cockiness or self-gratification. It was all in a day's work for her.
And shout out to the patience a Speech-Language Pathologist must possess!
I listened in as another one of her students , who is on the spectrum for autism, spent a good part of the session running in and out of frame, and all around his house. Now people like me would have lost it.
Not that persistent wife of mine!
She figured out a way to get him back...and coaxed him to sit still , camera center, and focus for at least long enough to get some work done. It was a good session
And then there are the group sessions, and her "lunch bunch", where as many as 3 or 4 kids join from their respective homes and participate in orderly fashion, even complimenting and encouraging each other.
No wonder I can hear real disappointment in many of the kids squeaky little voices when they realize they won't "see" her for another week.
And this is why I KNOW you are all needed now more than ever. These kids need their services, especially with the world turned upside down!
To all you husbands, wives and partners of SLPs, OTs, PTs, and other educators...if you ever have a chance to "eavesdrop" on your better half's teletherapy sessions, DO IT!
You'll appreciate them even more than you already do!
And to all you difference-makers out there, THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!
And stay safe!
(FINAL NOTE: If you'd like to support our small business and get a great at-home fun language-building toy...enter PROMO CODE: SLP at checkout for 25% off any purchase. And we'll throw in a FREE My Little Seasons - $12.99 value.)
#coronavirus #speechtherapy #sensory #sensorytoys #smartfelttoys