Aaron was a delightful 10 year old boy with a great sense of humor and alot of creativity and imagination. However, Aaron looked at himself as a 'bad kid'. His step-mother was filled with negativity towards him and his parents were embroiled in constant conflict. Aaron had been sexually abused when he was 3 years old. The memories of his trauma continued to haunt him. Aaron developed a challenge of encopresis that was occurring on a daily basis and it only furthered the negative relationship with his step-mother. After getting to know Aaron, I began to realize that he felt stifled and was often told to be quiet and was never allowed to really express himself. He told me that he felt he could not be himself and he was afraid to share any of his feelings, he did not feel safe and secure. I saw his encopresis as a reflection of the negative emotions he so deeply wished to share and it was no surprise for me to learn that this seemed to only occur in his home environment. I felt it was necessary for him to build a trusting relationship with someone, and sought to build him up and encourage his resiliency. Though our periods meeting together were short, I hoped that it would be a period of respite, a period where he could truly be himself and express himself without any fear of judgment. I believe Aaron will face many more challenges, but I remain hopeful that pointing him to an understanding of the roots of his distress and challenges, and giving him a spirit of overcoming, and with his own innate strengths, that he will be able to survive the violence so sadly inflicted upon him.
Initially, James was brought to me as he was having violent outbursts with peers. James had Downs Syndrome but was high functioning in many areas. I came to learn that James had been prescribed Paxil. I was convinced that because he had no prior history of violence that Paxil was contributing to the violence he experienced and I arranged for him to be seen by his physician to discuss this. The drug was discontinued and amazingly the violence discontinued. James was very religious and had a dream of being a minister. I thought of a creative way to help James feel that he could accomplish his dream. I organized for his ordination to a minor order in his church and James decided to put a small 'chapel' in his room where he could reflect. I taught James some meditation and relaxation exercises that he consistently used whenever he began feeling frustrated. I began spending some time with James in various community activities and helping to foster further skills. He is an amazing individual with much kindness and compassion and it appears that with the ability to feel that he was 'part of something' and making a contribution that most of what was looked at as problematic behavior resolved.
Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.