Arrowed Cloud

engin-akyurt-A9_IsUtjHm4-unsplash

(Photo: engin akyurt on Unsplash)

 

“He’s not cooperative,” his teacher warned me when I called to find out more about the boy who’d been referred to me for speech-language therapy. “He’ll find a hundred excuses to not do the work.”

“Sounds creative,” I interjected.

“He is,” the teacher conceded, “but it is exhausting.”

For him, too, I was sure.

“You’d think he’d settle down,” the teacher sighed, “but it’s like he’s gotten worse.”

Al* had language-learning issues. He struggled to express himself, to understand what he read and what was read to him. He mixed up letters. He mixed up messages. Exposed to alcohol (and quite likely to other substances) in utero, his early childhood was marked by constant shuffling between foster-care and reunifications with his biological mother, until parental rights were terminated, and he became eligible for adoption. He’d never known his dad. Al suffered from asthma. He had difficulty attending but reportedly “no difficulty misbehaving.” He scuffled. He cursed. He broke things. He kept getting in trouble. He spoke little, read less, and his writing was filled with errors. He was in fifth grade.

The “settle down” was a reference to his recent adoption by relatives of his biological mother. Now that he was in a “forever home with family besides” he was expected to move on. He was expected to “make gains,” close gaps, and be happy. He was undoubtedly happy for stability. He was also grieving, furious, frustrated, and failing at school. He acted out. He shut down. He “did not cooperate.”

He’d had at least four previous speech therapists. The teacher informed me that “he hates ‘Speech.’”

 

“You don’t look thrilled to have another speech therapist,” I noted on our first session together.

He raised a single eyebrow so perfectly that I wondered if he had practiced the move in front of a mirror.

I smiled. “Speech can be fun …”

“It sucks.” He stated.

I nodded. “I hear ya.”

“So, I can go?”

“Good try,” I chuckled. “We’re stuck together for now.”

He shrugged but didn’t flee.

“I don’t do work.” He warned, testing.

“So let’s not call it work,” I agreed. “Let’s just figure out ways to make the other work you have to do, a little easier. Because I think you’ve had to work way too hard.”

He narrowed his eyes, suspicious.

“I mean it. And … I can understand wanting things to be easier.”

He shrugged. Crossed his arms. Leaned into the backrest of the chair.

I saw it as truce.

The next few sessions were like pulling teeth. His attention flickered. He vetoed some tasks. He tried to sulk. But he listened. And he didn’t disappear into the boys’ bathroom when it was time for sessions. He tolerated me, which was better than what the teacher (and Al?) had predicted.

We took it slow.

Then I brought Shel Silverstein’s poems to a session.

“I’m not a baby,” he bristled.

“It’s not for babies,” I retorted. “It’s also for grownups. The illustrations may look silly, but lots of this is about serious stuff.”

He folded his arms and closed his eyes. On strike.

Or not.

I read.

His eyebrows were knit together, but then his shoulders lowered, and he took a breath. He frowned. He chewed his lip. He listened.

When I finished, he opened his eyes. Held my gaze.

“Cool, eh?”

He shrugged.

“Poetry is like that,” I said. “I love how it can find words for things, sometimes.”

He shook his head. Twisted his lips. Stared at the book. Flipped through the pages.

“Want me to read another one?”

He shrugged.

I did.

I read three more.

He scribbled arrows piercing clouds.

 

The next time I saw him, he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. Fiddled with it. Shy.

“You have something?” I chanced.

Shrug. He stared at the poetry book I had prepared for us again. Unfolded his paper. Refolded it. Coughed. Took a breath. Thrust the note in my direction.

“Can I look?” I asked. Consent is tricky with kids who’d had others decide everything for them. I didn’t want him to think he had to show me.

He nodded. “I write it.”

I unfolded the page. Eight wobbly lines of transposed letters in phonetic spelling. A poem.

“Can I read it?” I checked.

He looked up at me, vulnerable and holding up an olive branch of trust, “yeah, but … but not loud …”

 

 

 

(Originally published in the March 2022 issue of ISSTD News as “Arrowed Cloud – The Use of Poetry in Therapy” )

*Name and details changed to protect privacy.

The Scene Setter

jennifers-legos FF

 

“And then what happened?”

The soft-spoken woman in ugly tweeds shifted in her chair, and Thomas knew he was in trouble. He almost told. She expected him to. She was nice so he’d do what she wanted.

They all wanted to trick him. Especially those pretending to be nice. So he’d do stuff. Make mistakes. Be punished.

Thomas fiddled with the pencil. He wanted to pull Santa’s head off. Instead, he drew circles. 

He hated circles.

He put toys inside them.

Made the toy-boy lie down. Ran him over. 

“Well,” the woman sighed, “perhaps you’ll be more talkative tomorrow.”

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to the brave children who find a way to tell, even when they tell without words, even when those around them may not see that they are, indeed, trying. May you find someone who understands.

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo: © Jennifer Pendergast

 

So Much More

“It is so much more than just a game. It’s our future.” (Molly Wright, age 7).

This is science. This is humanity. This is potential. This is simple. This is profound. This is truth.

A not-even-eight-minutes video can change the future. Watch it. Share it.

 

 

Her Ants

(Photo: Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash)

 

She has ants

In her pants.

Restless thoughts

Writing plots.

No surprise

Her brain fries,

Daily grind

Flying blind.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: restless in 19 words

 

Watching

ccc111

 

“See there?”

Marie squinted against glare. “The windmills?”

“No.”

David’s finger shook along with his head, and Marie felt the wheelchair’s handles vibrate. The sorrow hit her, unexpected as always. Most days now she managed to surf life without being blindsided, but it was harder to do in this place, his favorite, where everything reflected the losses. His. Hers.

“The bird,” David insisted, his reedy voice robotic with timed inhalation.

His inflection was one of the first things to go, and its absence had robbed away a part of David that she’d adored from the moment he had first looked at her, dewy-eyed from birth, and mewled a symphony of baffled indignation.

“Ah, yes, the bird on the poles! I see it now,” she filled the space with words to compensate for his worsening inability to speak in sentences.

“Watching,” David exhaled, satisfied.

For the end? Marie silenced her sigh.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Note: Dedicated to all parents and caregivers, and to all who are navigating the throws of progressive illness. May you find peace, and space to breathe in, and may you know moments of joy and an abundance of love through life’s difficult path.

 

Magical Immersion

cutest bookworms AmotzBarlev

Photo: Amotz Barlev

 

When the sunlight ends early

And twilight follows

Close,

Grab a book and dive into vast

Worlds where anything

Goes.

Immerse yourself into the realms

Where magic is the

Norm

And ride the wings of imagery

All night into the

Morn.

 

Note: I just had to share (with permission, of course) the absolute delight of this photo of my grand-niece and grand-nephews so utterly absorbed in their books. A bookworm myself, I’ve spent many an evening immersed in reading. Still do. It shaped my life. This gift that keeps on giving offers riches that all the money in the world cannot, and I am so so heartened to see it in children. I hope you read. I hope you read to your children. Your children may well follow your lead, and love of reading is a ‘bug’ well worth ‘catching.’

 

Challenges In Adoptions of Traumatized Children

 

 

As promised in the previous post, the video above is a recording of my virtual presentation from June 3, 2020, titled: “Does He Even Know How To Be loved?” Challenges in Adoptions of Traumatized Children.”

The hour-long presentation was requested by and offered through Haruv USA, which provides professional development and training on trauma-related topics, to professionals and interested individuals. The presentation is available on YouTube.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Please note that comments are public, so if you want to ask questions more confidentially, please use the contact Na’ama Yehuda page.

 

 

השלכות של התעללות והזנחה על שפה ותקשורת של ילדים

The impact of neglect and abuse on language and communication in children – a video presentation (in Hebrew)

אפשר לצפות פה בוידאו המלא של ההרצאה שלי מיוני 2, 2020, בנושא “השלכות של התעללות והזנחה על שפה ותקשורת של ילדים” – ההרצאה היא בעברית (ללא כיתוביות תרגום לאנגלית בשלב זה), וניתנה במסגרת “חרוב מהספה” של מכון חרוב בירושלים

שאלות, הערות, והארות? אפשר להשאיר פה בתגובות לפוסט, אבל חשוב לזכור שתגובות לפוסטים באתר פתוחות לציבור, כך שאם יש שאלה או הערה יותר פרטית, רצוי לפנות דרך דף הקישור

The video above is a recording of my virtual presentation from June 2, 2020, about the “Impact of Neglect and Abuse on Language and Communication in Children.” The hour-long presentation is in Hebrew (no English Subtitles at present). It was requested and offered through Jerusalem’s The Haruv Institute‘s “Haruv From The Couch” initiative, which provides virtual professional development and training on trauma-related topics, to professionals and interested individuals. The presentation is available on YouTube.

For the English speakers among you, I am hoping to post a video of another presentation (on a different but related topic), this time in English, in the coming days. That presentation was requested by Haruv USA and was recorded on June 3rd, 2020. I am waiting for it to be made available. So be on the lookout for another video post!

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Please note that comments are public, so if you want to ask questions more confidentially, please use the contact Na’ama Yehuda page.

 

Ode to Morphology

markus-spiske-OO89_95aUC0-unsplash

Photo: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

Ode to the needed application

Of distinctive word formation

And appropriate derivation

(With Speech Pathology implications

For morphological miscalculation).

Because without the permutations

Of root words in combination

And grammatical allocation,

There’d be much missed in

Communication.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Morphology in 37 words

Note: As a Speech-Language Pathologist, this writing prompt would have been absolutely impossible to not take on! 🙂

 

Comunicar el Trauma – JUST PUBLISHED!

Breaking News!

I am delighted to share that my book, “Communicating Trauma” has just been published in Spanish! Yay Hurray!

CT spanish NaamaYehuda

Comunicar el Trauma – Na’ama Yehuda

 

Comunicar el trauma:Criterios clínicos e intervenciones con niños traumatizados

 

From the publisher:

Comunicar el trauma explora diferentes aspectos del lenguaje y la comunicación y cómo su desarrollo se ve afectado por el trauma y el desbordamiento emocional de los niños. A lo largo del texto, múltiples estudios de caso describen de qué modo los distintos tipos de trauma infantil afectan a la capacidad de los niños para relacionarse, atender, aprender y comunicarse. Estos ejemplos nos brindan diferentes maneras de entender, responder y apoyar a los niños que tratan de comunicar que se sienten desbordados. Psicoterapeutas, patólogos del habla y del lenguaje, trabajadores sociales, educadores, terapeutas ocupacionales y físicos, personal médico, padres de acogida, agencias de adopción y otros cuidadores y profesionales de la infancia encontrarán, en este libro, información y consejos prácticos para mejorar la conexión y el comportamiento, paliar la falta de comunicación y conseguir que los niños más problemáticos sean escuchados.

◊◊◊◊

“Un libro fascinante sobre el trauma infantil y el modo en que los niños expresan su sufrimiento y que, más importante aún, constituye un mapa para la curación. Escrito con gran sensibilidad, cariño, comprensión y sabiduría clínica, este libro es una joya diáfana y accesible, que incluye conmovedores e instructivos ejemplos de casos. Tanto los padres como los profesionales encontrarán en sus páginas una valiosa ayuda.”

–Ono Van der Hart, PhD, Universidad de Utrecht, Holanda 

◊◊◊◊

For more information about the English edition go to “Communicating Trauma” (or look under the — soon to be updated… — Books and Publications tab at the top of the page).