Serious Talk About Humor

by Patricia S. Lemer, MS, NCC

On my answering machine was a message from the mother of Lance, a fifth grader with Asperger‘s Syndrome. She was distraught.

Sassing the speech-language pathologist (SLP) who ran a weekly social skills group, Lance had exclaimed, "You can‘t tell me what to do."

"To the office!" she spat. "You are suspended from this group for three weeks. And you are sentenced to detention, besides!"

"Patty, find us another school!!" Lance‘s mother cried. "I can‘t take this anymore."

Listening, I agreed wholeheartedly. I had just returned from the 15th annual international conference on the Positive Power of Humor and Creativity. sponsored by The Humor Project in Saratoga Springs, NY. After spending the weekend taking life seriously and myself lightly, I wished that the SLP had been with me to hear Joel Goodman‘s sage words.

Seven Good Reasons to be Serious about Humor

Here are some reasons that might have stymied her:

Five BLOCKs to Using Humor

Let‘s rewind the tape and try again. What would have been the outcome had the SLP used humor to disarm Lance and find out what provoked him?

Responding to Lance‘s "You can‘t tell me what to do," she could have shrugged and said, "Oh, I‘m so confused. I thought I ran this group. Hey, if you want to try, I would welcome your assistance."

"Thanks," Lance might have said. "I have some fun ideas."

"Let‘s hear them," the flexible and fun-loving SLP might have said.

If the SLP had connected with Lance and agreed with him, maybe we wouldn‘t need to seek a new school. Humor might have made a huge difference.

Fortunately, it‘s possible for Lance‘s SLP - and you - to take advantage of the wisdom of Joel Goodman and his wife, Margie Ingram. You can order tapes of all sessions of the recent conference from Professional Programs (661-255-7774).

Better yet, attend their Adirondacks summer camp for grown-ups, July 23rd-28th. The focus is, "Humor and Stress Management: Tickling Stress Before It Tackles You." Contact The Humor Project at 518-587-8770

Or, mark your 2001 calendar and join me, March 30-April Fool‘s Day. I always look forward to my annual jump-start and would love to C U there!

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 5, Number 4 - Spring, 2000]

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