It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Duane with No Brain

When it comes to young people, we’re are often confronted with challenges that seem to have neither reason nor solution. Perhaps this story will help reinforce the notion that youngsters don’t always tell us where it hurts. That’s when we need to listen to the behaviors.

I was a school psychologist working with a fifth grader. Let’s call him Duane. The boy had a brain tumor and, fortunately, it was benign. The tumor was removed and he healed quickly and completely … physically.

Academically, however, it was a different story. Duane was a solid and capable student before his surgery. After the surgery, he began failing everything. Everyone was puzzled; there was no reason why he should have difficulty. Doctors assured the school and Duane’s folks that the boy should be able to do everything he could do before the surgery, only better. I was assigned to work with Duane and (hopefully) arrive at a solution to the problem.

Duane was your proverbial “good kid,” a polite and respectful young man, the sort of youngster you wouldn’t mind taking home with you. The testing I administered didn’t point to any issues that would account for his present difficulty. In short, I was stumped, also.

Then it hit me. Could it be?

I couldn’t wait to get back to the school the next day and pull Duane out of class.

“Duane, when you had the surgery …”

“Yes sir?” he responded.

“Did you think they removed your brain?”

“Yes sir.”

“Your WHOLE brain, Duane?”

“Yes, sir. Didn’t they?”

“No, Duane. They just took out the tumor. Your brain is still there, better than ever.”

“Really, sir?”

“Absolutely! You shouldn’t have any more trouble with it.”

And he didn’t it. Duane was instantly happier and his grades shot up in a matter of hours.

I wish all the problems I encountered could have worked out like Duane. Even today, however, I’m always on alert for the fears and concerns youngsters are NOT talking about.

James Sutton, Psychologist

January 11, 2009 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment