Category: Children



WHIMSYIt has existed since humankind began, but it didn’t acquire its name and general definition until around 1605.  Some are inclined to call it brain spooling, but that includes more than just whimsy. It is the position of this blog article that whimsy is the root source for imagination, creative ideation, simple silly thoughts, and more. The above image maps out that inter-connective influence of whimsy.
Yes, the definition Meisters indicate that whimsy is akin to fanciful, silly, giddy, and more (see the image above for more examples). We see it as a state of mind where the brain is essentially allowed to spool on its own and at its own pace and direction. No, it is not night-dreaming. It could be day-dreaming. It could also be essentially sub-conscious in that we are generally unaware.  In most cases it is very relaxing and can lead to drowsiness and sleep or it can ease us into awareness as fanciful thoughts dance around and suddenly grab our attention.
Review of the literature essentially places the products of whimsy in the arts; in either the forms of art, music or literature. Well, what about science; no whimsy? We think it is there too, but being able to separate it from the very orderly and precise concepts that characterize scientific ideas is difficult. For example, when Einstein, as a very young man was musing about light and light rays he considered what it would be like to be at the extreme forward end of a beam of light. Hmm,  could this have started as a whimsical thought that grew quickly into a serious question and  then a serious scientific theory? In our view, we tend to credit whimsy as the possible spark that eventually gave us E=MC^2.
In the very popular modern movie, “Avatar” there is definitely a large supply of whimsy, but no viewer can watch the entire movie and come away with only an awareness of some fanciful fiction without any appreciation for the social messages hammered home in the movie. Here whimsy is both obvious and dominant, but we believe that for most viewers that whimsy fires off an array of ideas, reactions, and emotions. Our minds are fuller on exit than when we began watching. Depending on our particular philosophies, experiences, and social concepts “Avatar” and its solid dose of whimsy stimulates our thinking in a host of different ways and often for a prolonged period of time. Moreover, comments from some viewers indicate that the Avatar whimsies induced a whole, related set of their own whimsical thoughts. This, of course, is exactly what the author, producer and director wanted to have happen.
Would it be ridiculous to consider the Cosmos in a whimsical way? We think not. In fact if you carefully listen to those wonderful commentaries by the scientist Carl Sagan you cannot help but sense a subtle application of whimsy. It does not detract from his messages. It gently and almost surreptitiously pulls you into his explanations of  the Cosmos. “We are stardust people” is both lovely whimsy and solid science.
The human brain is so versatile, so astoundingly powerful and its abilities to integrate and assimilate definitely produces the seeds of whimsy. Unfortunately some of the more reality-driven tend to downplay, even cruelly mock evidences of whimsy even in the arts. This should be avoided at all costs. If nothing other than moments of delight, imaginative escapes or delirious excursions into a fantasy world are all that we experience, they are moments of respite for our minds, our emotions and even our spirituality. With a little practice and an increased appreciation for whimsy we may find we have gained a powerful stimulus for our own creative output.

IMAGE CREDIT: The whimsy diagram image is from: http://tinyurl.com/3sqzva2

Advertisements

An urgent reminder that applies globally

Hello, please consider clicking <HERE> for a You Tube presentation that is a good prelude to this blog article. Hope you will take some time to view and enjoy it. Thanks.

The young girl-child, an eleven year old, had the typical social behaviors of children with one of the forms of autism. Direct exchanges with even family could be an extreme variable with the child often secluding herself in her room with shouts of “go away. go away.”

That same child was an incredible artist. Her sketches were detailed, balanced and accurate. Most of her drawings involved human figures and they were all attractive and often animated (she often drew complete scenes of human activity). There were never any signs of fear or hostility in her work. They were so striking they took your breath away. Problems arose only when someone would stop to view and compliment her on her work. The “go away” demand arose at once, and if a person persisted then the youngster would begin to shout and try to flee. I was one of those admiring persons and my reaction to the girl’s pleas was sadness. I was sad for her; that so much talent was so tightly locked in autism’s grip.

The young girl was not one of my clients, but because of my work with another client I was able to follow her progress. Through the wonderful efforts of a talented therapist and her loving parents, she began to understand her reactions and learned to begin to control them. As this happened she responded more openly and happily to praise and was encouraged by it. I am hoping that now, somewhere she is a successful illustrator and artist; finally at peace with herself and her world.

Yes, the youngster discussed above had clearly obvious talents and could be considered an exception. She is exceptional, but that does not deny the existence of hidden talents or gifts in other children with either severe disorders or with cognitive weaknesses. It is most severe in those children besieged with behavioral problems Those demand therapeutic and parental focus at the price of never discovering those hidden treasures within. Usually through aggressive applications of medications and some therapy these “behaviorally challenged” youngsters are quieted down and then overlooked; mostly from relief than from indifference. This must change to not let “calm” become the ultimate goal.

Regardless of the particular disorder or disability, the process of helping the child to achieve individuality and to expose that hidden gift is expensive, often tension filled, and elaborately time-consuming. Parents, schools, therapist all reach their respective levels of exhaustion and many children end up in a caretaker environment. We are talking about our future, and we need to innovate ways to improve each child’s opportunity to develop to their individual utmost. Right now, organizationally, financially, and professionally we have not got it right.

Part of the answer is extended individual attention, both therapeutic and emotionally supportive. In this regard, the strongest medication is parental love. Yes, even this vital support gets tattered and bruised. In fact it can tear families apart. For the wealthy this is less of a problem because of their ability to bring on “live in” support or at least daily support. For the rest, it is a terrible struggle that is often just levels of coping with limited or no active efforts to help the child control the child. Hidden behind all of this is that one skill or interest that is the key that can liberate the entire family. Finding and nurturing it is extremely challenging, if it is even initiated.

Here are six actions that need full implementation and support: (None of the following are unique and are only partially practiced today. What is needed is better organization, funding and direct prescriptive implementation for each child that is both followed and enforced).

  1. Increase a sustained program of support for families, especially the parents. This includes instructing the parents in ways they can be more helpful to the child, but also ways that they can ease their own anxieties and frustrations.

  2. Intervention therapies should be started as early as possible, and ideally well in advance of school age. Some of this should occur in the home to avoid separating the child from its most important support group.

  3. Behavioral modification based on earned reward concepts does not help the child understand what is going on inside. We must never assume the child does not or cannot understand. The child needs to be an active partner in the therapeutic process not just a recipient.

  4. There are very good existing therapy programs in speech, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and occupational therapy, but all are severely limited by costs and variability of the diagnostic process and subsequent recommendations. It would not hurt, in my opinion, to ban the DSM IV and DSM V guides.

  5. The current reliance on pharmaceutical controls and not working to help the child develop self-controls abuses the use of medications and eliminates the vital “one-on-one” therapeutic exchange between therapist and child.  In a great many cases, the speech therapist winds up being the most successful in that important one-on-one therapy.

  6. The special aide or professional Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) person is a vital element in the entire process both in the home and in the schools. Costs, more than any other reason, are the biggest barrier, although some parents, schools and teachers resent the TSS. This professional is the extension of that “one-on-one” vital process that can fully enable a successful liberation of the real child. A partnership develops and out of that partnership the child can begin to understand the child, and most importantly begin to like the child it gets to know. This opens the door to discovery of those hidden gifts.  For the child and for its parents it represents a newly found freedom and opportunity. For the lucky TSS it is a never forgotten reward.

I close with the story of an encounter between a therapist and a now college age youngster. The youngster, a young man, greeted and hugged that therapist exclaiming fondly. “you helped to liberate me and taught me to learn who I was and who I could be. I shall remember you and our times together, forever.” This kind of moment must become standard and to do that there must be changes across the entire spectrum of treatment, education and respite protocols for the child, the parents and the entire family.

Are we there yet?

%d bloggers like this: