Last Sunday, as I was driving between Ranch campuses, I stopped at a gas station to fill up. Inside, they had a whole wall of signs with pithy, and some borderline caustic, sayings. One said, “I would explain it to you, but I am all out of crayons and puppets.”
First, I kind of giggled. We’ve all had the experience of trying to explain something that seems simple to us, but the other person keeps looking at us blankly. We’ve all also been on the other end… listening with a blank stare.
Here at the Ranch, finding ways to communicate with the children, the families and each other is part of our work. We do some complicated stuff. Our Medical Director, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, is at the forefront of understanding brain functioning, injury, mental illness, medications, and healthy living. He uses genetic testing to determine medications which might be contraindicated for some individuals. He is incredibly smart. He is encyclopedic in his knowledge of cutting edge research.
Yet, I have seen him interact with children, adolescents, and adults of all education levels, and he meets each of them where they are at. He uses language and tools and examples that each can understand. Trust me, he knows all the biggest words, but he also knows how to use the smaller words to get the biggest meaning. He is relentless in making sure people understand the care he is providing to them.
I am certain, if necessary, he would happily use crayons and puppets to explain if there was a chance it would make the meaning clearer.
Dr. Martinsen is a great example of the communication approach we use throughout the Ranch. Children don’t just “receive” services and treatment and education… although that is the language we most commonly use. They fully “participate” in the services and treatment and education. They must understand the scope and goals of the work so they can do their part to find success… to find their best selves. That understanding may come through a wellness activity or occupational therapy or trauma-sensitive education or a therapeutic approach or conversation or art or music.
Or maybe even crayons or puppets.
Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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