Consultation days are always tiring. Everyone I see has some kind of significant need, staff and agencies have tried and failed to find the right support strategies, and there is an air of desperation around the whole experience for everyone. I know that the expectations are high, that if they could they'd put offerings on the table like they used to around the mouths of the oracle's cave. So I eschew the trappings of the modern 'oracle' known as 'experts' ... no tie and expensive pen taking notes on fine linen paper; no suit with briefcase full of reports and graphs. No, I wear jeans and the closest clean shirt. I'm careful not to dress to impress - why set myself up for failure.
I'm writing about one of those days. I have a few minutes to read the referral report before meeting the individuals involved. My mouth forms a small 'o' as I read. I tense up. I'm reading about someone who has a behaviour so big that the word 'significant' doesn't cover it. The 'o' gets bigger and is finally "O" by the time I get to the last page of the section 'nature of problem behaviour'. The other consultants come in and I look at them and just point at the referral form. They nod gravely. Everyone of us at that table has been around the block, well I stood on the corner and smoked as they did the walk but you get my point, and even we are a bit awestruck by what we read. This person engages in behaviour that's frightening on paper.
They started to talk about the referral and I said, "No, in this rare case I'm reading every word on every page. Maybe there will be something. All the other sections were interesting but held no new information, no new horrors. Then I got to the section that said, "List some of the skills and strengths of the individual." I perked up ... here's something of interest.
In terse handwriting were the words:
That did it, I broke down and laughed. Out loud. Hard.
I've been there before. I immediately pictured a beleagured front line staff filling out a form about someone who's behaviour doesn't give a moments pause for reflection - and having to come up with a list of positives. The form I remember filling out was for a guy who would strip his clothes off in public and then just run. In front of cars or trucks, in front of day cares, in front of what ever was there. It was hell because I've never been able to run - and never would have looked as good sprinting through the morning light in my altogether.
I sat there faced with this question. Tell us something good about someone that's causing you worry ... I wrote, I kid you not.
Can undress independantly.
It literally was the only thing I could think of at the time. I didn't even get the joke until I saw someone read it and laugh and congratulate me on my sense of humour.
Oh, yeah, right.
this might be overheard.