I recently went to a screening of the documentary Resilience, about the effects Adverse Childhood Events can have on our health, both mental and physical. It was a fascinating documentary, and I was so thrilled to discover that the people putting on the screening were people who were also on a mission to get as many of us on board to really make a difference in Leeds, Yorkshire and the country as a whole, and the attitude we take to some aspects of people reacting to ACEs they have endured, so we can really start making an impact. I am so excited to be a part of this!
In my last post, I spoke about my admiration for the programme Secret Life of 4-year-olds. However, this morning I read a post on Facebook which made me question the ethics of what the programme does. This post came from one of my heroes, Michael Rosen. Please read it below.
This post, I'm sure you will agree is highly enlightening. I will watch the next episode before I make my mind up completely, and I will not remove my previous blog post, as I feel some of the points I made are still valid. I hope Channel 4 take note Rosen's points, and make changes accordingly, for what they are endeavouring to do is commendable.
Channel 4 produce a lot of top notch television, but one of my absolute favourites is the Secret Life series. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please watch the trailer below.
The Secret Life Of 4-Year-Olds is part of a series where they not only look at 4-year-olds but 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds too (changing the name of the series as they progress.) each episode focuses on a different aspect of being a child of that particular age, looking at both developmental and psychological milestones. They accomplish this by using the fly on the wall technique in a purpose built play centre.
There are two ways you can watch this show. For most, as it is for my sister, its time spent affectionately giggling at the funny things children get up to. For others, such as myself, its s fun exploration on what makes children tick. Ultimately children think very differently to us, not only because they are younger, but because they are also wired differently. Therefore it gives a really exciting (for me at least) insight into children.
But I believe this show is far more important than that. I often hear parents - and often get approached by parents - saying they don't understand why their children act a certain way, or why they act out at certain things. Usually, this is because the parent expects their child to be a little adult. If they just learn and understand the adult reasoning and rationale, then they would stop acting a certain way. However, as I say, Children are programmed differently to adults, every year not so they get reprogrammed like when you upgrade your operating system on your computer.
The Secret Life series shows this playing out, I believe the more people watch this show having the children in their lives in mind as they do so, I personally believe we would get far fewer adults getting frustrated at kids.
To protect ones child is the most natural instincts a parent can have. You want the best for your child. Naturally the best for your child is for them to have to the H’s - Happiness and Health. Unfortunately for some this is not the case, or reaching that happiness and health is more complex for some children than others.
The problem is, how as parents do we address these situations. I believe all to often - and I am making no judgement here - we put social stigma and the fear of the path ahead of what is right for our child. We mistakenly believe that our child is young enough for us to play the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand. But actually this is likely to do our children more phschological harm than addressing and even embracing a diagnosis.
I have had the honour of knowing, and even being related to, a number of people on the Autistic Spectrum. With each and every person they have all said that getting the diagnosis was the best thing to happen to them. One even wearing the diagnosis as a badge of honour. The reason for this is because they could no focus on being who they were without having to analyse why they were. If someone would question a behaviour, they could easily explain, and would not have to self-chastise.
On a very different tact, I often wonder how difficult life would have been if my Hemiplegis et al hadn’t been diagnosed as early as it was. On a different level, I’m also aware of numerous people who struggled - and some who continue to struggle - due to a lack or lateness of dyslexia diagnosis.
As adults we understand the damage being labelled can cause. But one thing we fail to understand is that one of causes of that damage is labelling at the wrong time. Labelling is going to happen, no matter what you do. It’s how well a child has assimilated that label that counts. If a child embraces that label as part of their make-up any social stigma that might fly their way won’t sting as hard as it might otherwise do.
The best way for a child to do this assimilation is by understanding and the de-stigmatisation from those closest to them. Earlier I mentioned the person I know who wears their autism spectrum diagnosis as a badge of honour. This is what I wish for every child with a challenge ahead of them. Whether it be disability, autism, ADHD, dyslexia or anything else. It is important not to be fearful of the challenge, but instead face that challenge head on. For when a child can face a challenge head on, equipped with the right weaponry for that challenge, it sets them up for their best possible future.
After all isn’t their best possible future what we are all striving for?