Sunday, 8 June 2014

How To Be A Receptionist

Cameron 18 yrs old
Welcome to The Institute of Functional Neuroscience, this is Judith speaking, how may I help you.

I hear these beautifully spoken words every day when we attend our sessions at The Institute of Functional Neuroscience. As you enter the front of the building or when you call there is Judith with a huge smile on her face and a friendly warm disposition welcoming you in and offering to help in any way she can.

And sometimes she is presented with rather challenging situations to assist with but her smile never slips, her patience never shifts and her gentleness is always bathing you in a warm glow. Judith is the perfect person to greet you as you walk in after surviving traffic, your children and just life in general.

Her desk is always organized despite the rest of the staff constantly moving in and out and leaving all manner of things on the end of it. Her desk is always clean despite how many children, mine included, visit her desk, climb on her spare chair and often play, eat and drink at her desk.

She cuddles babies, entertains toddlers, manoeuvres everybody to give access for wheelchairs of all imaginable sizes and manoeuvrability's and chats to everyone about their day, their therapy and their life.

Due to the enormously varying degree of conditions that attend the institute Judith copes with destructive children, seizures, adults who are not exactly happy and people with every kind of disability imaginable. Some can't talk, some can't hear, some can't see, some can't walk and some can do very little at all. Everybody is treated with the same level of gentle kindness, respect, understanding and consideration. Doors are held open, special arrangements are made for payments through third parties, taxi drivers are accommodated.

This is all done whilst she does her clerical duties with swift, neat, efficiency. Dealing with computer crises whilst juggling appointments to accommodate everyone's personal life needs is just an average day for Judith. All solved with a smile.

So while Judith keeps all the balls moving in her three ring circus she also manages to allow my son to shine at her desk beside her. Cameron loves to be a receptionist too and it is near on impossible to stop him going straight behind the desk when we arrive, sitting next to Judith and immediately trying to help - I say help very loosely.

Judith has a silent signal for the days when Cameron just can't be accommodated behind her desk that day and as soon as I see files piled on the spare desk chair I know to steer Cameron to the waiting area but it is usually accompanied with a lot of grunts and growls from Cameron and a great deal of effort from my muscles because Cameron is not happy and spends the rest of his wait trying to spring off his chair when I'm not looking and try to race into what I'm sure he considers - his chair.

On the days Cameron can sit in his chair he sits there with a huge smile on his face and welcomes patients to the desk. He has on occasion helped patients who didn't realize his disability by handing them a pen or another item from the desk, all by himself. He wishes Judith's computer screen was a touch screen and she is eternally grateful that it is not because Cameron would have caused so much chaos on the booking program by now if it was. He interacts with all the staff and flips through magazines because you have to do something that looks like work when you sit at a desk.

It can take quite a bit of effort to get Cameron off his desk chair and into his appointment some days because he really enjoys sitting with Judith who makes him feel special and he really likes greeting all the other patients who often comment that Judith has a helper. It's a special day when you hear Cameron say Hi and Bye to patients as they arrive and leave.

Cameron has a habit of walking out of his therapy sessions because he figures he's been there long enough and he wants to get back to Judith. It's not uncommon for the doctor to walk in for a chat after treatment and find Cameron gone - he's with Judith. So the doctor and I chat and then we wander down to find Cameron sitting with a huge grin at the front desk. But that is what is so great about The Institute, they accommodate everyone and understand that this is normal toddler behaviour which Cameron is developmentally appropriately displaying.

Cameron makes a few demands of Judith. As anybody who knows Cameron knows, he likes to admire jewellery and Judith wears beautiful jewellery so Cameron is quite often pointing her jewellery out to her and admiring it. This can become tedious but Judith deals with it beautifully and then Cameron asks for his shoulder rub and the game is on. Cameron tries to trick Judith into massaging his shoulders and then in return Judith tries to get Cameron to give her a should rub. This is an ongoing ritual between the two of them. He tries to get other staff members to give him shoulder rubs too and his success rate seems to depend on their age - he gets more from the younger staff.

Being a receptionist is hard work, and being a really good receptionist is something that not everyone can do. We are so lucky to have Judith at The Institute looking after us all and Cameron is especially lucky to have his special friend who lets him be a receptionist for a couple of minutes each time he visits, allowing him to spread his sunshine alongside hers.

And guess what guys? I see the two of you waving to each other through the glass door and front window of the car as we back out of the car park, sharing one final farewell for that visit.

Judith and Cameron


  1. This post just made me so unbelievably happy :)

  2. I'm glad and that is what Judith does for us :)

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