Humanity is evolving all the time, and I am meeting increasing numbers of children who fit a similar pattern, which I call A Divided Brain.
Part of the brains of these children is often clever, wise, mature, talented, creative, sensitive or gifted in some way. This is a crucial part of evolution. This wisdom or talent can be completely masked or hidden at times.
Part of the brain is delayed and remains at a toddler level or a very young level, possibly for life. Many adults in their 30s, 40s or 60s are still having tantrums, or living with debilitating fear. This makes life exceptionally difficult for them, those around them, and very frightening for children.
The delay the children experience can heighten and develops their gifts, like a Dyslexic child, who can’t read, spending more time with art or models and developing this part of the brain, enabling their model-making to become more talented. But this isn’t a reason not to enable them to read fluently – they can. They will just learn on a different path and thoughtful teachers can find this path.
We can aim to support the children’s gifts and move on the delayed part.
Natural therapies can mature the delayed part of the brain without breaking their spirits, and the right environment gives them time to practise using their gifts to overcome what they find challenging in life.
Children used to mature naturally in a sequence, ‘from the bottom upwards’. These children have to use some of their gifts or wisdom to move themselves forward, ‘from the top down’.
An example of this would be Dame Evelyn Glennie. She is profoundly deaf, but a very talented professional percussionist. She experiences the vibration of the music. Trying to get her to hear music would have been impossible, but her gift for feeling the vibration of music is exceptionally advanced.
Typical academic learning may not work for these children. They haven’t got the usual vision (how the brain sees) or verbal processing to learn in this way. They cannot learn through repeating tasks, but they may well learn through good experiences – for example develop an understanding of money and numbers through buying things with their pocket money. They may well have a talent or gift that balances their shortfalls, learning in a different way, say art or dance. But it is still crucial for them to have their vision and language improved to manage everyday life.
These children don’t notice how others are feeling with eyes / ears - empathy - they feel how others are feeling, as if the feeling was their own. Often what they are picking up from others – they can feel their anger, grief or anxiety - triggers even more enhanced negative feelings in them. Then they do something that is ‘naughty’, feel disapproval, judgement, resentment, anger from others, and this sends them into explosion, because they are already overloaded and overwhelmed.
They describe this overload as a ‘shaken can of coke’. They have to explode. I liken it to epilepsy – something happens in their brain that they can’t control. You can’t ask someone who is having an epileptic fit to stop, get up and carry on with the task in hand. You likewise can’t ask these children to stop, calm down, or do as they are told. Neurologically they can’t.
When a child is reluctant to do something, there is usually a neurological reason. For a child who doesn’t like writing, this may be due to measurable differences / difficulties with their vision, fine-motor control, multi-tasking: thinking, spelling, handwriting at the same time.
But there may be subtle differences that we don’t know about yet.
We know that these children live with pictures in their brain that they can’t change quickly or at will. If they ‘picture’ themselves going swimming, they get agitated if they are asked to go to see a puppy instead, even if others perceive that as a bigger treat than swimming.
We know that they can only ‘do’ what is at the forefront of their brains, like the suitcase in front of you on a conveyor belt. If they are enjoying jumping on the bed, they can’t even anticipate that being in the bath will be as much fun. They can’t see the possibility of, or benefit from ‘the suitcase round the corner on the conveyor belt’ arriving.
It may well be that this ‘picturing’ is so strong, that they can’t cut it out to, say, focus on a page of lines where they are meant to be writing letters. They may only be seeing their Lego model in their minds eye. This task may be incredibly difficult for them at that moment, whereas we see it as really quick and easy for them.
If a child is happily singing, and we suggest a song that they know – they may freeze, cry, resist. They can’t get to that song part of their brain at will.
It helps to avoid as many direct demands as possible, as these children cannot do things at will, even if they want to and know the results will be pleasurable. That is why reward and punishment do not work, but merely increase stress and negative behaviours. Indirect requests like ‘Your lunch is on the table when you want it’ or through another child: ‘Sam, do you want to come for swimming now’ will enable Jack to get ready for swimming without feeling under pressure.
Children nowadays are going to communicate in a different way. They are more open and honest. If someone is feeling something, but saying another, this confuses and agitates them.
They even have different meaning for words eg ‘bored ‘means ‘I can get my head round that right now’. ‘Normal’ denotes feeling their very best. They need ‘Please walk’ rather than ‘Don’t run’ as words give them pictures, and if you give them a picture of running, they will! Often the feelings of the person talking overrides the words that they are saying for these children.
These children may warrant a mixture of labels: Autism, Aspergers, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome, Semantic Pragmatic, ADHD and Sensitive Child – get as many as possible for compassion, understanding, benefit, respite. But most of these lables are misunderstood. ADHD has become an umbrella label without looking at root causes. Not many professionals know that a Sensitive child has different wiring of the brain, and, say, the sensitivity to noise or sunlight have a physical cause. These are not fussy or weak children, but those doing their very best to cope purposefully and bravely with life.
At the moment all the labels have a negative connotation, whereas the child is merely part of evolution that is very special and useful. They must do things in new and different ways – and that is great. They are somewhat like Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Richard Branson and many famous and successful people. It is up to us whether they live with their talents or are swamped by their difficulties.
The best results come when a child’s gifts have main focus, and how the child’s brain, eyes, ears are working is completely understood, and any difficulties in these areas are remediated and matured. Then the children can be free happy spirits, delightful and loving, playing their part towards the world being a more harmonious, peaceful and joyful place.