Jacob is an endearing, extremely verbal 7-year-old.
Whenever asked a question, Jacob talks with great enthusiasm taking you on a verbal roller coaster ride.
In psychology jargon, Jacob also has a problem with “self-regulation.” (Don’t you love all the terms out there?)
I ask Jacob, “So Jacob, how are you doing at camp…how’s your behavior going? Are you following the rules?”
With bursting enthusiasm, Jacob says, “Great!!! You see, when I was born there was something wrong with my brain, so I take this pill and now it’s better.” (Jacob has recently been put on medication for ADHD.)
To no avail, I try and counter his view. “Jacob, your brain is fine,” I say. “The pill may help you to focus a little better, but there’s nothing wrong with your brain.”
“Right,” Jacob exclaims, “but, when I was born…” as he continues with his neurological explanations.
It may be my issue, but for a long time my mission has been to normalize things for children and families.
I do my best to move them away from “disorder” or “disability” language to skill-thinking, framing paying attention as a skill that can be improved like any other skill.
Try and watch for kids like Jacob who show their cards when they say something is “wrong with their brain.” While you don’t have to go over the top with tell them “you’re amazing,” (another overused word), calmly explain to them that their brain is fine and the pill is a tool to help with the “skill of focusing.”
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Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick: firstname.lastname@example.org