I don’t want to and you can’t make me…
So as you no doubt gathered from the subject line, I have one of my favorite kids in therapy. On his first session, he came in, sat in a chair, folded his arms and met my every request with a most belligerent “I don’t want to and you can’t make me…”. And yes I was serious, he is one of my favorites.
In his 9 short years of life, Nick has been “diagnosed” with Alphabet Soup – ADD, ADHD, PDD, PPD – and the list goes on. He has frayed the nerves of his parents, teachers, counselors, psychologists, pediatricians, – and my personal favorite – his acrobatics instructor, who apparently pulled him in front of the class to call him “a retard” in front of the other pupils. Nick’s solution for this was simple though – a swift kick where the sun doesn’t shine. Needless to say, class was dismissed.
Before Nick would start VT, his parents requested a “private meeting” with Nick’s Vision Therapist, namely me. They carefully laid out his history and diagnosis while trying to explain how sweet of a boy he is on the inside. They worked to educate and even warn me about their son, saying that he was incredibly intelligent, yet easily frustrated and prone to outbursts. At one point in the conversation, they even suggested my leaving the VT room door open in case he became enraged and they needed to intervene. Being the new kid on the block (I started working in this office just 2 days earlier), I smiled, took a lot of notes, and simply said “I can’t wait to meet him”. That was the second week of November.
In 13 years of Vision Therapy I certainly have met my share of challenging kids, some of which have run circles around me. But no matter how challenging, how impacted, how over or under diagnosed they might be, they ALL maintain one universal and undeniable truth. They are kids first.
In that spirit, I have focused the structure of Nick’s therapy on encouraging him to be a kid. I’m guessing the acrobatics teacher didn’t try that. I broke the “I don’t want to and you can’t make me” spell with a little kickball in the hallway. Funny how play time trumps any defiant posture and shows a struggling child that you are on their side. I let him play in my VT room, and I play with him. I know generally what his VT program requires, and I work very hard to morph every game he chooses into a VT activity. In turn, he works very hard to please and we have a great time together. I have never witnessed an outburst, a harsh word, or even seen a glimpse of a temper. We even talk about how to make good choices in life and how bad choices lead to consequences. Just a kid being a kid.
During his Progress Check this week, Nick’s mom broke down to tears after hearing that he has made great gains. Nick still has a long way to go, but he is well on his way. She told the doctor and staff that her son “loves coming here”. She continued with “this is the one place, the only place, that he looks forward to every week!” She then turned to me and gave a tearful hug, and whispered “thank you”.
I hugged her back and said “No thanks necessary. All I did was let him be a kid”.
Like I said…one of my favorites.