greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top
Photo by Kat Jayne on Black and white picture of a young woman biting her nails

Since September of 2020, I have had occupational therapy students in my practice, Soul To Soul Yoga/All Ages Therapy Services. It has been a mix of occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapists both at masters and doctoral candidates. They have all had very different personalities. What is it about some of my clients that causes some to be fearful? My last student actually froze in a state of fear or panic when one client came in my office. She could not talk. I am assuming this is due to panic. This is obviously not a good thing for a future therapist to present with.

picture of the author and her brother looking at each other laughing

I know I grew up with people staring and trying to figure out my brother. I was the one in panic when we flew him to live closer to us. I remember talking to the airline and stated I was more concerned about the other passengers that I was about flight crew or any other airline employee. He is typically very happy. He makes sounds and flaps his hands. How can I teach others not to react the way my last student did? Why is it so difficult to just say hello?!

I have posted this video before. It was created for yoga therapist expecting them to have less experience with limited language. I guess I just expect more from university educations. I started sending this to students prior to starting their fieldwork. Step one- say hello.

In the end, I had to ask her to leave the room. The client would not follow directions or participate what so every with her in the room. When she left, my client was fine. I think people with disabilities, in particular the ones on the autism spectrum, sense things beyond what neurotypicals are sensing. I honestly think my client was mad my OT student did not introduce herself. This is the second student this client reacted to and had to ask the OT student to leave the room. Why does this continue to happen?

picture of the author's brother watching his cousins play

My husband continues to remind me that not everyone has a life time of experience interacting or being around people with developmental disabilities. I had one occupational therapy assistant that refused to work with clients that have limited language or are medically complex. Is there something we can teach other clinicians? Students before they go out into the field?

I understand that not everyone is meant to work with people with developmental disabilities or those with limited language. But as therapists, limited language could be a stroke, dementia, or brain injury can have limitations in verbal language as well.

I will keep writing and speaking on this topic until someone finally listens including the local medical and dental schools. According to the CDC, 1 out of 6 children have a developmental disability and 1 out of 4 adults have some kind of disability. No one has told me to bugger off yet so I will keep asking to let me come speak, consult, something.

Imagine you see a male, about 5’10, 170 pounds, mid 40s. He is jumping up and down. Making an “eeee” sound. What is your reaction? Is it fear?

Any suggestions or comments- leave them below or shoot me an email.

3 thoughts on “Fear”

  1. Thank you for writing this article. These topics need to be discussed & are often not talked about.

    1. Thank you for responding. It is a topic that needs to be discussed across the board- health care, law enforcement, education, and aging professionals.

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