Shawn was 9 years old when I first met him. The last time I saw him he was 10. I worked with Shawn as therapeutic staff support (TSS) for 18 months. Shawn must be about 19 now. The job description was clear on my duties. Sit in the back of the classroom. Only intercede with your client when they have an episode that the teacher cannot handle. Do not help with any classwork. When at the clients home, do not help with howework. Observe and intercede only when necessary. Follow the behavior treatment plan. It was impossible for me to follow any of these guidelines. There was no treatment plan for the first 6 months. It was finally written when the behavior therapist asked me to tell her what I was doing. I happily dictated my program. At this point it had become obvious to everyone that Shawn had profoundly improved beyond anyone's expectations. When I started with him he had explosive temper disorder and oppositional disorder as well as other behaviors determined to be disfunctional. Basically he'd have meltdowns every day and would throw chairs around the room, yell, scream, cry, etc.. Initially I had no clue what to do. I'd begun learning tai-chi a few weeks after school started for Shawn. My own breath opening/transformative experience with this daily practice left no room for doubt that I'd teach breathing exercises to Shawn immediately after meltdown episodes. Three months of these exercises, combined with nurturing, counseling and spending 32 hrs a week led to a break though in his ability to remain calm and learn. Shawn had had no ability to deal with frustration. When he was challenged in this way he just freaked out. After 6 months though, he became the best behaved student in the classroom, learned how to read, learned how to write and learned how to add and subtract. Before we began to work together Shawn had none of these skills.
The amazing consequence of our interaction was that we both improved. I think I received more than Shawn even though my total concern was how to help him develope self esteem, coping strategies and a sense of well being. I finally became less self absorbed. I guess this opened up the dormant potentials inside myself. I remember how foreign nurturing others and myself had been before this experience. I am convinced that this deep caring for another human is the core of the mandala which supported the metamorphisis which I experienced.