As I walk through the offices this time of year, I feel a sense of change and excitement in our kids and families. It’s that sweet spot after the winter school closings, but before we have our summer plans set in stone. For many of our families, this is the time they start to notice behavioral changes at home and/or at school. It’s a time to reflect on where their kids started and where they are now. Our families don’t take anything for granted; reports that their child was invited to a birthday party, having adult conversations without interruption, a child that took a time out and returned with better behavior, and less calls from school. These are all the signs of progress we look for with hard work.
I was in a meeting with my staff at our Sterling office and they were commenting about the change in the dynamic in their waiting room. Nancy, the manager for that office, was saying that she has been watching the middle school boys come in to group each week and there has been a subtle shift in their behavior. When they started group in September, they would all file in, heads down, hoods up, all focused on their phones. Now she sees them come in and there are some fist bumps, greetings and conversation while they wait. To an outsider, that would seem like just a regular 13 year old boy interaction. To us, it’s the sign of incredible progress. Some of our kids come to us without the ability to comfortably make eye contact, let alone be in a room of 15 other people and feel ok talking. In their middle school group, one of the practice assignments they have each week is to walk to the front desk and let Lauren, our evening admin, know they are there for group. For some of them, this is the first time they’ve had to address an adult and take responsibility for that type of exchange of conversation. I should point out that Lauren is a young woman whom boys of that age might feel shy talking to even without having social skills issues.