A small percentage of school-age children are prone to violence. However, only a fraction of those violent kids have any serious neurological disorder. [Let’s be clear: quantifiable neurological understanding is in its infancy. Labeling symptoms with handy names is not the same as understanding the nature of a disorder, let alone knowing what to do about it.]
Most kids who act out violently are otherwise-normal children whose brains are behind — not shut off — in critical areas of development. With love, support and education, they can develop normally. It ain’t easy, but I’m on the road to doing it with my own child. [But I am NOT writing about the different challenges or demands of raising a child diagnosed under the autism spectrum banner, or with schizophrenia, psychosis, or brain injury.]
I’m shocked by how little we’ve evolved in how we treat these kids; by how they’re brutalized and drugged and institutionalized as if we were living in 1700. Our treatment of them reflects our deeply rooted fear of children in general; but these children in particular spark our anger and insecurity because they are set to blow at any moment and we need to dominate and control — to our detriment — everything in our world.
These kids might be smart, loving, creative, and social when calm; but their brains haven’t developed the abilities to process quick changes and sudden problems, and they’re easily frustrated and incredibly inflexible. A joyous child one moment; a landmine the next. Like a race car, ‘from zero to sixty in five seconds’.
I have one of these kids, and when I saw that society was misreading, misunderstanding, mistreating and medicalizing him, I decided to take responsibility for him in every way, so that he wouldn’t be a drugged dropout in jail at seventeen. I didn’t believe he could develop through a series of classroom helpers, school punishments, schoolyard taunting, or psycho-pharmaceuticals. He needed a whole-self approach that only a loving parent/primary caregiver can care enough to give.
Working from the platform of brain development, and having moved unsuccessfully through three different schools, I came to the conclusion that my son’s school experiences would always be undoing my work with him. I very reluctantly decided to homeschool him; and although I dislike homeschooling, it’s been a very successful experiment and experience.
I still have years of work to do with him so that I can send a fully functioning young adult into the world with the ability to think independently, focus on uninteresting tasks, and contain his irritation, anger and impatience. But I’ve been successful enough that I want to share my experience of taking my child from our darkest, most chaotic times to where we are now. I hope to hear from other people on their roads with their violent kids.
All artwork on this blog is original, by Liz Sydney. Please do not copy.