This week, I had to catch up on a couple of weeks’ worth of notes (not my typical routine) for one of my clients, an adult with intellectual disabilities. Fortunately, I had been video-recording his sessions and could replay them back. I have a little break right now in-between contracts, and it was a rainy day at home anyway. The nice things about watching a recording of a session later is that one really gets the time to process everything.
This particular client goes through growth cycles. At the start of each cycle, there is a tremendous amount of resistance. By the end of the cycle, he demonstrates the most amazing, expressive, regulated means of improve. It looks like he has been training and practicing for a long time. That is not the most important part though: his guardians always report to me some area of growth, one that has been getting in his way of functioning his whole life, has changed and developed for the better at the end of these cycles. I personally never know where this is going or what he is working on. All I know and work with is his relationship to the music and myself in the session. (To read more – click the arrow to the right)I watch his music, making sure to know where he is and where he needs to go. For example, this client has always had difficulty with change and things not happening as expected. He has also had difficulty with meltdowns when he sees a person he knows in a place different than from where he knows them (e.g. seeing the mailman in the grocery store, not delivering mail). After one of these cycles, mom had reported to me that they had unexpected company, and the company brought others that were not known to the clients’ family – neither of these situations was a comfortable one for my client. When my client walked through the door, unprepared, and all these people stood there in his living room, he displayed a very unexpected response. He walked through the door proclaiming, humorously (unexpected response number 1), “honey I’m home.” As his parents stood there, secretly getting prepared for having to make the best of a bad situation, he put out his hand and introduced himself to all, pleasantly: Not the response his parents were expecting, but a very pleasant surprise.
As I was watching the video of his sessions with his demonstration of resistance by talking my ear off, I looked up information on resistance. I determined that this day, his resistance had to do with a fear of failure or of not being accepted where he is. He has demonstrated resistance of the same kind for other reasons, but today, he was happy. However, he was holding back, almost nervously. Most of my clients that are adults and have impaired cognitive functioning to the degree that they will always need caretakers often have abilities that are difficult to pull out of on demand, but given relaxed, unpressurized time, they demonstrate.
I got back to my session videos and notes and realized that this client with intellectual disabilities is capable of amazing things, but only when he is given time and the relaxed chance to get there. My experience with kids’ issues is similar. When they don’t perform as we would like, the adult attitude tends to be “they aren’t doing this because they just don’t feel like it….” This is an unfortunate prevailing attitude I have run across often.
It seems to me, if we are patient enough to give people the time and the room they need to find their talents, we could not only avoid the resistance we tend to encounter over time, but they would also develop an inner motivation, given the time and encouragement to find their way. Where is the real road block: them or us?