"A Big Bowl of ..."

June 26, 2020

A frustrated mom named Jan, who  I spoke to some time ago really reduced things to its basic terms.  Discussing her 12 year old sixth grader, Jackson, she went through a list of issues:

  • resistant to homework
  • hates reading
  • frequent meltdowns
  • constant YouTubing
  • disrespectful to his parents
  • sees school as pointless
  • seemingly no motivation
  • no sustained effort
  • low tolerance for any difficulty or frustration

Two different physicians “diagnosed” Jackson as “ADHD,” and signed off on a prescription with the “check-back-with-me in four months” approach.

As Jan reported, the medication seemed to help some for maybe two or three weeks where Jackson appeared mildly more focused and compliant.

However, Jan offered a more accurate description in her reductionist view.  As she noted, “It’s just a big bowl of sh-t!”

Yep, that’s about the size of it.

We seem to want to ascribe specific categories or labels to this big bowl, but this is challenging as there is no x-ray, no one measure that says a child has this one thing vs. another.

Yet, I hear it all the time.

“She has a ‘sensory disorder.’”

“My child has ADHD.”

“Yes, it’s dyslexia.”

On and on it can go with the “disorders” that always attempt at putting pure neurobiological explanations to some of the struggling that is taking place.

Today, I spoke with a cute and endearing 8 year old, girl, Maria, who has had difficulty being accepted by her peer group in school.  Instead of talking about ADHD or “sensory issues” with the mom and the girl, ” I tied to help the Maria understand the skill of getting along with others.

We talked about  how she can “go over the top” and not read the signals.

When I asked her to play back what I was saying to her to get a feel for whether she was hearing me, she said, “I try too hard to be cool and it can get annoying and on people’s nerves.”

“Bingo!!!!!!”

Staying focused on the “skill of…” thinking is a whole lot more productive than overemphasizing a theoretical neurobiological disorder.

So, back to Jan and the “big bowl of sh-t,” breaking things down in “skill terms” would probably be a lot more productive than “disorder thinking.”


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All comments (2)
  • Steven Sussman, PhD
    June 26, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    I wrote to you in the past about a unique "gameshow" approach I use with kids who are diagnosed with AD/HD and other co-morbid "disorders." […] Read MoreI wrote to you in the past about a unique "gameshow" approach I use with kids who are diagnosed with AD/HD and other co-morbid "disorders." I also have a website with a page on ODD where I refer tremendously to your book THE SHUTDOWN LEARNER....If you ever wish to know more about my approach please reach out...PS There is a website healthgrades.com where parents review my approach quite positively....I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude as you have influenced me, especially in terms of communicating to parents why their kids struggle in our Auditory" based school teaching Read Less

    Reply
    • Hi Steve: Sorry for the tardy response. Thanks for the nice words. email me a link to the the site and let's see what […] Read MoreHi Steve: Sorry for the tardy response. Thanks for the nice words. email me a link to the the site and let's see what we can do. Stay safe Read Less

      Reply

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