I remember my first day ever working with a child who was intellectually disabled. I was nervous and scared.
I was worried I would hurt the child. I was worried about the child's saliva getting on my face.
Well, if you notice, my worries were all about me. And I've noticed my personal attitude has a huge effect on therapy. If I'm nervous, so are my students. If I'm scared, so are my students. If I'm unfriendly, so are my students.
This realization goes beyond therapy and it goes beyond talking to people with a disability.
It's about making yourself comfortable to make others comfortable enough to speak or listen to you.
People are usually nervous to approach others because of their own feelings, but if you work with others, remember your actions and behavior do affect those around.
I learned not every child will love me on the first encounter for different reasons, but my everyday goal is to get a child to communicate with me. I have to put myself in their position and understand what each child needs me to do to in order to communicate.
For some, I have to go outside with my running shoes on and race around the playground. Or place infant toys that light up next to my eyes while I make silly faces and noises.
Once I see a smile or a gleam in a child's eye, I accomplished a goal and it can only improve from there.
Every day, I remind myself my students are my main priority at work, and they should not be affected by the thoughts in my head. They just want to have fun and express what they can or want.
How do you overcome your fear when approaching others?