Things that stop you in your tracks

I was doing an evaluation recently - and I should know better than be shocked at the things that come from the mouths of children...

It is important for therapists to be observant: it is a skill that I drill into my staff and my students on a regular basis. There is always a lot to observe with preschoolers beyond the typical issues of how many blocks they are stacking or how they are holding their pencil.

As is usual my mind was operating on two different levels during a recent evaluation. While we were stacking blocks I noticed the double whorl pattern in the hair of the five year old I was seeing and I was drifting away into some articles I read about the controversy over whether or not this was a phenotypical expression of altered neurological development and hemispheric lateralization or if it was just an incidental finding. I think that I need to read more because of the recent challenges to this concept that I am now aware of.

Anyway, then I looked at the hands of the youngster, and he had a rather notable injury to one fingernail. I was wondering if the fingernail injury would be causing him to use that hand less than typical - and then I was considering that if he was using that hand less than usual that I could make an error in the assessment regarding reporting what hand he used to do tasks - and that in total my findings could be in jeopardy because also I had to make sure I wasn't tainting this whole picture with inconclusive opinions based on the double whorl pattern in his hair. At the crescendo of my cognitive crisis in how to interpret all this data that part of my mind that operates 'in the moment' asked in a very caring way "Oh my, what happened to your finger??"

I thought he said that he injured it in a bar, and I wasn't sure I heard him correctly because my brain was so muddled with thoughts of lateralization, Geschwind and Galaburda, etc. that I just had to ask the follow up -

"What do you mean, 'It happened in a bar??!??"

Without missing a beat the preschooler says, "I hurt my finger in a bar. You know what a bar is. The place where you drink beer?"

Now I am certain that there is a simple and innocent truth behind all this, but sometimes the way things come out of kid's mouths just stops me dead in my tracks.


Neil Denny said…
I love this post. I have just been doing a piece on storytelling and this is such a well told story, packed with information, detail, tantalising whorls off into other lines of reading, and the punchline delivery.

I still can't think what the innocent explanation might have been. Perhaps there isn't one. Perhaps it was a bar. Beer was involved. We'd all had a drink. Anyway, this one guys picks up a pool cue and well, the next thing I know is...

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