Let’s Use ‘Hump Day’ to Connect as Special Needs Parents and Professionals
By Karen Kaplan
The term ‘hump day’ arrived in the early 1950s and was used mainly in the workplace. It was a phrase that instilled a feeling of satisfaction in workers to signify they had made it through to mid-week and could now coast their way to the weekend. It instilled a sense of accomplishment and relief.
For the past 20 years, I have had a standing date with my brother each ‘hump day’ to check in with one another. We talk about how we feel, what good is occurring in our lives that week, and what challenges we are moving through.
It might be a wise idea for parents of individuals with special needs to have a ‘hump day’ check-in with a family member or a friend. Likewise, it might be beneficial for teachers and therapists to have a ‘hump day’ to check in with their co-workers. This chat could happen by phone, a Zoom or Facetime call, a coffee meet-up, or maybe a walk-in nature.
That ‘hump day’ check-in might look like this:
Each person could talk about their successes and the fun they have had engaging with, teaching, or inspiring the individual with special needs they support.
Each person could listen to the other and celebrates those accomplishments.
Then each person could lay out what was challenging, frustrating, or anxiety-provoking. No judgment here at all from either party.
The listener could acknowledge those feelings while offering thoughts and resources if welcomed.
Then together, you both could support and brainstorm while identifying the fun ahead for the week.
What about a hump-day check-in with an individual with special needs? How could that look?
Perhaps you find a quiet spot in the house.
You could take them to a favorite spot for a treat.
Perhaps you could prepare a special food and open the chat while enjoying that treat.
Maybe you put on some quiet music.
Maybe each of you could take some deep breaths and let out a few sighs.
Then you, the parent or caregiver, could share what has been working for you all week. Talk about what fun, accomplishments, and experiences you have had.
Perhaps you could ask your individual what they have had fun doing during the week. What things have they accomplished or tried? This could be a good time to cheer for them and tell them you are proud.
Then you could share something that has been hard for you and how you got through it.
You could then ask them to tell you something that made them unhappy, scared, confused, or frustrated. Then, ask how they handled it. Finally, tell them how proud you are of them for getting through it while offering some additional ideas for next time.
You might bring the check-in to a conclusion by identifying what enjoyable things the rest of the week and weekend could bring.
Karen Kaplan is a native San Franciscan. She completed her bachelor's and master's degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She minored in Special Education and obtained her Speech Therapist and Special Education credentials in California. Karen worked as a speech therapist for both public schools and private schools for 20 years before opening her own residential and education program for students with autism spectrum disorders. She worked in credential programs at Sacramento State University as well as UC Davis and spent 20 additional years directing private schools for those with autism and similar learning challenges. Karan founded a small non-profit, Offerings, which travels globally helping other cultures understand those with developmental challenges. For seven years, she founded and facilitated an autism lecture series and resource fair in Northern California. Karen still facilitates an Autism Awesomeness event yearly, showcasing the strengths and talents of those who live on the spectrum. She is currently consulting, helping families, schools, and centers for children, teens, and adults. She has published articles to help bring ideas and strategies to families and professionals, providing hope. Karen authored Reach Me Teach Me in the early 70s and went on to publish her second book, On the Yellow Brick Road Finding Hope for Autism, in 2017. Her third book, Typing to Heaven and Back, is not about autism but about having important conversations with those we love. Be sure to connect with Karen—she is always ready to listen and think of the possibilities.