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Today I would like chat about the word scar. S-C-A-R. As human beings going through life and living in this unpredictable world, we accumulate a lot of scars on our bodies. For example, when I was young, like, REALLY young (I was a first grader), I was playing with some firecrackers (dangerous, I know!). Well, this one time, I didn’t throw the firecrackers fast enough after I lite them with matches and on that particular day, a few firecrackers exploded in my hand. And from that, I got a scar on the ring finger of my right hand.
Another example of a scar that I got was when I was little bit older, like 18 or 19 years old. Back then, I used to be in a rock and roll band. As I was playing my bass guitar this one time, the music simply took over and an injury was just around the corner! My bandmates and I were in a rehearsal studio and I decided to stand on top of the drum set as I was playing my bass guitar (like I said, the music totally took over!). Well, I lost my balance and I fell down and, long story short, my thigh got cut open by some sharp part of the drum set. I had to get a lot of stitches in that newly formed gash in my leg. It hurt. BIG TIME. But, all that to say, that’s yet another scar that I have.
Scars. Oh those painful events that cause scars.
I know what you might be saying. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Man, that guy Erik Raj, he’s going on and on about scars. And he’s going on and on about firecrackers and being in a rock and roll band. How does that stuff have anything to do with speech therapy?” Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. This is how it has to do with speech therapy. As clinicians, it’s important for us to realize and remember that we obtain scars from some of the things that we do in the speech therapy room. From the mistakes we make.
It’s important for us to learn from those mistakes that gave us scars.
Here’s an example of a scar that I got once within the speech therapy room. When I was a graduate student, I had the perfect opportunity to work with a fantastic child. He had a lot of great energy and one of the ways that we could keep his focus was to have him sit down on a yoga ball. I would be behind him, he would be sitting on his yoga ball, and I would help him to slowly rock back and forth during our session. That gentle rocking would keep him regulated and on task.
But I made a mistake one day that gave me a scar.
One of the things that I did on this particular day is I forgot some speech therapy material. It was on the other side of the room – not within arm’s reach. I was supporting his back as he was on the yoga ball so I took my hands off his back for about a half a second so I could grab that speech therapy material. BAD MOVE ON MY PART. In the blink of an eye, the kiddo somehow stood up on the yoga ball and fell right down.
Oh. My. Gosh!
I felt terrible. How could I let this happen?! I turned my back on this student for only a moment and that caused him to fall. And like I said, I was a graduate student and there were those two-way mirrors and my supervisor ran into the room! The parents ran in, too! The kiddo was crying! I was crying! It was a disaster.
But don’t worry, the kiddo was fine.
My client was just a little spooked. But guess what? This experience gave me a scar. It wasn’t a physical scar, though. It wasn’t one like with the firecrackers thing or the rock and roll thing. There was no physical mark on my skin, but it’s a scar that very much exists on my speech-language pathology brain, if you will. It’s a mistake that I think about. A lot. So with all of that being said, I think it’s important for us to reexamine our speech-language pathology brain. We need to think about it in the sense that you might have some therapy related scars here and there on your mind that have gotten there because of miscellaneous mistakes that you’ve made as a clinician.
Reexamining is what it’s all about.
The good thing about reexamining our speech-language pathology brains and looking for scars, is the fact that you can pinpoint when that scar happened and then you can think about the mistake that caused that scar to be there, and that’s a powerful learning opportunity for you. Because you are growing when you’re reexamining how that scar got there. Ya know what I mean?
Makin’ it physical.
Bringing you back to the physicality of the whole scar thing, that little scar on my finger, every single time I look at it, I always say to myself, “Man, you got that scar from when you were a youngster and you were playing with firecrackers. That was a mistake, you should NOT have been playing with firecrackers, dude.” That’s me learning from the mistake. I don’t play with firecrackers anymore, and that scar consistently reminds me to not do that.
And my leg, too.
Any time that I look down at my leg and I see that scar from when I fell through the drum set, I look down at my leg and I say, “Man, you probably shouldn’t be standing on top of drum sets. It’s not the safest thing to do.” And, ya know what? I haven’t done it since, haha! I learned from that mistake, for sure.
And yoga balls.
Every single time I see a yoga ball, seriously, I think back to that time as a graduate student and I think back to that mistake of turning my back on my client for that one moment. Seeing my client’s sad face because he was so scared that he fell down. That killed me. I think back to that moment and I say to myself, “That was a mistake and you, as a clinician, can learn from that mistake.” With all that being said, I never turn my back on my students. Ever.
In closing . . .
How about you take a moment when you have some free time and think about some of the scars that you might have gotten on your speech-language pathology brain over the years. How did you get those scars? But, more importantly, what can you learn from those scars, because that’s what it’s all about, baby. It’s about learning and it’s all about growing. Let’s all reexamine our speech-language pathology brains!