I’m writing this while I sit on a secluded bench at a farm with a client. It’s beautiful out at 77° with a small breeze. This was not the plan for the day.
She was so excited the last few weeks about going to the corn maze. We talked about how great it will be to be with so many of our friends. We talked about how they might have animals. We talked about how we hoped it wouldn’t rain.
Now, here we sit. Alone. Without our friends. Not seeing the animals. It didn’t even rain.
To the other patrons and staff here that didn’t see me and 8 other staff try to talk to her to see what we could do to get her to join the group. That didn’t see that we started this journey in the parking lot. That it took an hour to get
us this far. They might think we’re waiting for someone to get out of one of the mazes.
The things the public don’t see is she got in the car this morning negative and frustrated. They didn’t see that she turned her day around by jamming out to her favorite song or her pure excitement to see her friends. They didn’t see her mood shift to “I don’t like corn mazes.” To “I don’t want to be with ____.” To “I don’t want to be with my friends” to “I don’t like wristbands.” To “I don’t like ____ staff” To “I don’t like farms.” To “I don’t want to listen to staff.” To “I don’t want to talk” . They didn’t see us trying to salvage this day. They didn’t see her pure bubbling happiness turn to dislike and silence in the course of an hour.
I asked her to pick up her things off the ground so her friends didn’t ruin her photos or fall and get hurt.
Keep in mind if I didn’t, she would have been angry and upset that her pictures were ruined. With the alternative, she would have beaten herself up and felt horrible if one of her friends got hurt.
I know it wasn’t what I said that is why she is upset. That is not why she doesn’t want any of these things. That is not why she wanted to sit on a bench alone when before all she wanted was her friends to surround her.
What the public sees is two women alone at a farm barely speaking.
I want to talk. I want to know what I can do to help. Instead, I stay quiet because the more I talk the more upset she gets. The more upset she gets the more adamant she is on her choices.
The public thinks our clients are whatever social media or society tells them to think. They are not what you can read in a text book. They are not what you see on tv. They have thoughts and feelings that are too much for them just like the rest of us.
I have worked with this client for almost four years now. I have learned her triggers, and quirks. The things that make her laugh endlessly and the things that make her talk in circles for hours. She is strong willed, loving, loud, mercurial, passionate, social, excitable, generous, empathetic, spontaneous, and so much more. I wish the public could see her for all her colors. Today we get the shade of mauve that is so dark it is almost
purple-brown/gray/black. Today we got the wall. The public doesn’t see that being a DSP is not always easy.
Some days it’s chasing your giggling client down a sidewalk on the beach because they skip-ran back to the car because they found a crab shell.
Other days it’s telling them to keep their not kind words in their head and talking them out of doing things they will regret.
Some days it’s asking them to quiet down some and not screech in the ears of other living creatures no matter how excited you are.
Then there’s days it’s sitting on a bench, in the sun, in the middle of nowhere on a farm in silence hoping you can convince them to eat lunch today.
So today, here we sit.
We listen to the whisper of the corn stalks .
We watch the butterflies.
On this bench we take a deep breath.
Today we enjoy the silence of sunshine.
- Chrissy Swenson, DSP