A five year old boy I evaluated recently, Ari, seemed very sweet, although perhaps a little on the shy and a awkward side. After I tested Ari, when I told his mom my largely positive impressions of her son, one of the things she was very concerned about was the fact that he was very bad at saying hello to people in social situations. “Do you think he has a social disorder of some kind,” she asked me.
Those “disorder” questions always stop me in my tracks. I am hopelessly wired for seeing kids as kids and less as having disorders.
To me under the “big tent of normal” there is a tremendous amount of variation. Here I had spent about two plus hours with her son and mostly what I saw was a boy who needed more time to mature and learn the difficult skill (for many) of saying hello properly along with a few other things.
I didn’t see this boy as disordered as much as needing one thing from the adults around him – patience (“Vitamin P”).
“Ah, he’s a great kid,” I told the mom. “It’s not easy for lot of kids to say hello or to be socially responsive when they are five. Give him time, reinforce him positively when you catch him doing the right thing and I predict the issue will be gone. Be patient with him. It isn’t easy being a kid.”
Was I right in my view?
I’m sure there would be plenty of professionals out there who would be more than ready to put a disorder label on this boy and initiate a range of treatments (at parent expense I might add).
I just wasn’t ready to go there.
Ari needed a lot of patience, which is often in short order with kids. We expect a lot from them far too early.
“Vitamin P” goes a long way (and it doesn’t cost anything!!!!!!)