"No way would my dad, mother, grandmother, grandfather, or anyone help me."
Really, really, yeah, this is what nine-year-old mute Harold, who arrived in my Mayo Clinic classroom eventually conceded, He had consciously chosen mutism when asked for responses.
The first day, it was the clamped closed mouth expression. I made no mention of it, but instituted writing notes, sticking post-its on his papers, or including him, generally, in group activities. He behaved and complied unexpectedly well. Our written notes strategy was successful; but, on completion of assignments he soon saw "ask me" for his favorite choice of reinforcement. I postured total unawareness when he approached. We seldom made eye contact. If he let out an inaudible squeak I would say, "Yes, your work is complete. I insist you take a break." With a snickering sneer he would bound to his choice of leisure. (Methought, "Harold, you had talked without hearers and shut out society")
Harold progressed. He asked his nursing staff if he could play with the objects in my "museum" office - off limits to him. I heeded his request with a contingency. He must play quietly;). He was required to say at least three sentences about each object before exchanging it for the next. His comments alluded to an angry father and mother not supporting him when he felt that he needed them.
However, one verbal exchange became lengthy on how to make a Jacob's ladder toy. This needed square pieces of wood and ribbon to inter-lay between wood in and over-under pattern allowing the pieces to fold and close in a ladder-like sequence. He agreed, in time, that he had gifts of observation and artistic ability. He could draw pictures and had even used an old deck of playing cards to copy my Jacob's Ladder. Not the same quality as the Appalachian people who had made mine (passed down from my mother-in-law), but he had the same ingenuity. I reminded him that he could climb the ladder to living 'okay' when he felt unsupported. Keep Jacob" in his pocket along with the doodle pad for drawing whatever he felt.
Harold's parents realized the in-person interactions, post-it notes, stickers, silently or orally would help make living 'okay'. They could all climb the ladder together. Listen.
Really, really, yeah!
A cautionary tale of skill knowledge. "The amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was still more than triple the level in 1999, and varied widely by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." The problems concerning overdoses and addiction, by the many, is explained with "It's all in their heads. They are head cases. That's how they get hooked." Physicians, insurance companies, and business companies are seeing the psychiatric connections for genetic and biological origins. All of which are, now, gradually, being seen as intertwined for routine care medical care. Wee have just begun.
I remember feeling like a "drip" in patient conferences. Especially, the indifference to the mental health issues for my HIV student and my cancer patient. The physical issues over-shadowed the mental ones. A number of times I would walk out feeling "drippy". I would throw cold water on my face before returning to my classroom. Reminding myself of my lesson for my children, when they used the expression, "I feel like a drip!" for their sappy emotional feelings.
The Drip effect, in particular, brings Kerrie to mind. She was the first. I recall, grasping the teaching moment. I had rushed to our sink and had turned the faucet to drip. I silently watched the drops. The room began to quiet in vary degrees, but I out-waited the most resistant. As we all listened to the drip, I would explain that at times each one of us feel unpleasantly drippy.
Then I held a glass to catch drips and I said,"But the great thing about drippy ideas or the drips that you think that you are is; that you can build up and flood the world with new ideas. Continuing metaphorically, Ideas seem drippy because they are new and make us uncomfortable with changes in ourselves and others. The next time you feel like a drip, take a few gulps of water and flood yourself with a new positive thought; or get together with a few other drips and flood the world with new, young ideas. Simply trying will flood you with warmth."
These are the young children, who, often use drugs to alleviate pain. The drug opioid overdosed problem of today began with separation of fields of care. Their physicians deal with the physical needs while overlooking the underlying issues. Multiple medications or increased dosages are, sometimes, prescribed leading to over medicating and overdoses.
I'll take a long drink of water and, with my skill knowledge, push a "drippy?" idea; non-isolation of mental health care and medical care.
Here comes a drippy idea. Let's create a flood!
Kaye is a teacher and author of multiple works including Valerie Valentine Visits Vincent Vampire