My two weeks of therapy camp just came to an end on Saturday night. Boy was it challenging. We had children with autism who had difficulty expressing their needs, wants and frustrations. Instead of verbalizing, their way of expression was often by using their biting teeth, pinching fingers and kicking feet. I experienced many of these same reactions while working with severely emotionally disturbed children at Beechbrook in Cleveland, OH in 2005.
The difference between Beechbrook and Adam’s Camp is my personal growth. Three years ago I was a selfish person. When a child acted out toward me, I felt as if they didn’t like me. Poor Valerie. The kid doesn’t like her. I took it personal. Couple that with unsupportive co-workers, and you have a recipe for disaster. Now I find myself in a different place. . .physically and emotionally. These children at Adam’s Camp did kick and pinch just like the kids at Beechbrook, but my perspective has changed drastically. The question was asked many times last week. . .”why are we here?” The answer was ALWAYS: “we’re here for the kids. We’re here to make a difference in their lives.” So after keeping that answer in my head, I was able to put myself aside and remember that I was there for them. They were acting out against me because they couldn’t express what they were feeling. It was my job to help them use a better mode of expression. I found myself calm, gentle and willing to help. No longer did I feel attacked, wanting to fight back. I was driven to help them. It feels so good to know that I have grown. It feels even better to know that I had a part in changing these little lives.