During my tenure with Lia I have watched a long line of Nurses come and go. So has she.
Since I’ve been there the longest, I’m usually asked to “train” these Nurses, over the course of two to five hours, to work with her. Truth is, Lia trains them, and there are times when she could give the most formidable Drill Sergeant a run for his money. She actually seems to enjoy putting the new recruits through their paces just to see what they’re made of.
When the trainee arrives, one of my first questions is, “Do you have any experience working with autism?” I would estimate that at least 90% of the time the answer is, “No.” On the rare occasion, the Nurse may say she knows somebody. Who knows somebody. But, knowing somebody and taking care of them are two very different perspectives.
The nurses try to be attentive during their training, but by the end of the first half-hour or so, I can see “the look” starting to materialize on their faces. Kind of like a deer in headlights. If they hug me or hold my hand and squeeze as they’re leaving, and tell me how well I work with Lia, it’s a pretty good bet that we will never see them again. It’s a tell.
To be fair, a few of them have returned a time or two, but so far, no one has been long-term. There’s a lot of change and turn-over in Lia’s life at the moment. And some days, it just gets to her I think.
I try to stress to the trainees that yes, Lia has some pretty significant behaviors, but they aren’t constant, and they do become easier to manage with time. And the relief generally comes with a commitment to investing the time to get to know her and build a relationship. To do that, you have to come back. Are you ever coming back?
It is not my intent to be judgmental here. I remember my early days all too well. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, and questioned why anyone in their right mind would put up with such behavior from a child, any child.
The answer, I discovered, is because you care. And isn’t that why we do what we do? Isn’t that why we keep showing up?
I wonder if this hypothetical ad would help us find the right people for our team. People who will keep coming back…
Wanted: Dedicated and caring professionals with the stamina of the Energizer Bunny and the patience of Job to help care for a child diagnosed with severe Autism and Down syndrome. Position requires a willingness to invest in building a positive relationship and a commitment to keep showing up. An adventurous spirit would be helpful. Experience preferred, but will train the right candidates. If you’re ready for a real challenge, call (555) 542-7673. Serious inquiries only.