Emergence Techniques Used: Visual Dialogue, Direct Emergence
Personal Skills Age (estimated age at the time of the original injury): 6 (the girl), 7 (the boy)
Key(s): hearing the words, "sit still!"
Summary and Closing Thoughts
No one knows, certainly not I, how many children who suffer from ADHD have had similar injuries. I, myself, have helped only two. Each time I hear the label, "ADHD," though, I ask myself, is this child getting medicated because someone once startled them with the words, "sit still"?
Am I suggesting these children not be medicated? I wish it were this simple. And to be honest, I wish all these children's injuries were this simple to grasp.
In truth, suggestions such as "do not use medications" are well beyond the scope of my license to make no matter how I personally feel. What I am suggesting, though, is that we begin to use Emergence as a Therapy to search within these children for scenes such as those in the stories I have just told you. Perhaps, then, some of these children can find a deeper and more permanent relief.
As to my personal feelings about medicating them in the mean time, how do I feel?
To be outright honest, I do not like it. Personally, yes, I believe we should do all we can to help children to suffer less. This includes temporarily giving them medication, especially if this is what they need to enable them to sit still long enough to discover their wounding scenes. In these cases, I believe we may need the help these medications can offer.
On the other hand, if all that happens is that a child gets medicated because the adults around the child, for any reason, loving or not, simply cannot cope, then I would ask these adults to look further into their motives. These children, and all children in fact, deserve the best we have to offer. This "best" includes making every effort we can make to help them to genuinely heal not just cope. And to me, medicating these children as a long term solution is not only inadequate, it's just plain wrong.
One more note.
Beginning with Alice, and now having sat though many, many sessions with young children, I have come to believe that therapy with children is almost always best done with a parent or parents in the room. I say this knowing this statement contradicts much of what is currently believed, especially with regard to a child's "right to privacy."
"Privacy" is a concept which a child grows into. "Feeling safe" must come first. And "feeling safe" means feeling connected, not alone.
I believe putting young children into these "private' situations, even in a therapist's office, often forces them to have to deal prematurely with being separated from their parents, an experience in which you risk making them feel even more "alone." More so, since moments of "startling aloneness" are what injure children, the best guideline one could use here would be to do everything possible to insure children do not have these startling experiences. "Sitting still" with them in a therapist's office is often the best way to ensure this.
Finally, I would like to mention one more thing; my thoughts on behavioral therapies and their role here.
I believe any therapy which endures has at least some underlying truth, some way in which people are genuinely helped. Thus, I believe behavioral therapies have a lot to offer here.
As I say this, two recent experiences come to mind, one, hearing Temple Grandin speak, and two, reading a book on ADHD by David B. Stein Ph.D. entitled Unraveling the ADD / ADHD Fiasco; Successful Parenting Without Drugs. First, Temple Grandin.
For anyone unfamiliar with who she is, she is to me a most remarkable woman. She is a woman who has suffered with one of the more serious cases of autism. She is also a woman who has not only found the means to a rich and rewarding life, she has also found the words to tell those without autism what being autistic is like.
Now, lest you see this simply as a nice, heartwarming story, let me add, she has designed more than one-third of all the livestock handling facilities in the United States. And she like David Stein has a doctoral degree, a Ph.D. She also lectures throughout the US on both animal rights and on autism.
My point for telling you this is that, when I heard her speak recently, I heard her say she largely credits her successes to the firm but loving and ever-present guidance she received from both her mom and her teachers. In fact, she repeatedly referred to having been raised in the '50's and how the firm parenting styles which permeated communities then was a significant factor in her recovery.
I believe the firm but loving parenting she repeatedly referred to is sorely missing in our children's lives today. I also believe the firm but loving parenting styles she referred to very much parallel the firm but loving parenting styles presented in Dr. Stein's books.
Am I endorsing his books?
To the degree they help children and their care givers to suffer less, yes, I am. They are a good addition to the techniques present in Emergence as a Therapy.
Further, I believe that despite Dr. Stein's behavioral orientation, which theoretically differs markedly from my beliefs and from Emergence as a Therapy, that his suggestions, to a great extent, do result in the very connections I am advocating for here. Thus, while he never directly addresses what these children's actual wounds are and by implication, suggests they are the symptoms present, none the less, his methods do address in caring and loving ways the terrible aloneness which is the root cause of these children's suffering. More so, they address this aloneness very practically and with solid results.
Some who know me may find my endorsement here odd. After all, I rarely endorse anyone outside my community let alone someone who so disagrees with me theoretically.
Despite these differences, though, I believe we caregivers must put our children's well being first. This means we must use every loving method we can. Even those which we fail to understand or disagree with theoretically.
Ultimately, then, I believe we must work toward seeing the good in each others' methods. And the truth beneath them. As we do, we will begin to free up desperately needed energies. We can then use these energies to learn how to best help each other to overcome the terrible aloneness we all experience, rather than wasting our energies on fruitless arguments.
When we can do this, I believe we will all begin to understand, in a way we can all grasp, what has been preventing us from connecting. In this, I pray we soon find our way, so we can stop wasting time arguing the theoretical sources of injury and focus our efforts on actually healing it. And on helping our children.
I invite all concerned to begin this journey with me.