For children with special needs, such as ADHD, a good psychologist/therapist can be of great help.
My first impression of my son’s psychologist, Dr. Eisenberg, is middle-aged, balding, pale (obviously spending more time in the office than in the sun), soft-spoken, and with a deer-in-the-headlight gaze (I hope Dr. Eisenberg won’t be offended by this description!) He would look at you intently without blinking that you are prepared for him to judge whatever you have just said. But in the end, he would only nod his head and say sympathetically “It is so…”
When my son Lala first came to the sessions, he would squirm on the sofa, he could not look at the Dr. in the eyes (both are common for kids with ADHD), and I had to sternly remind him to sit still. After a while, Dr. Eisenberg asked to have private sessions with Lala. It seemed that without parents being present, Lala responded so well to the Dr. that you could hear his laughter from the waiting room.
When I asked Lala what he learned from the sessions midway through the year, he said “it helped me realize that I could make a mistake, but as long as I am willing to correct it, it would be okay.” Dr. Eisenberg later confirmed that he never explicitly discussed with Lala about this. But it is good that Lala drew this conclusion himself because it would help preserve the kid’s confidence and improve his resiliency in face of the constant challenges created by his ADHD.
When I aksed Lala whether he liked the sessions at the end of the year, he said “Dr. Eisenberg is good at talking. He is a good friend.” Kids with ADHD tend to have no or limited friends, and adults such as parents are often judging and criticizing. But in Dr. Eisenberg, Lala has found a confidante, an empathetic voice, a non-judging adult guidance. He trusts Dr. Eisenberg completely and looks forward to his sessions each time.
The Dr. told me that Lala was a very sensitive and perceptive child, and eloquent at expressing his feelings. He shared with the Dr. something that he never discussed with us. Even though the Dr. could not discuss what Lala shared with him in details unless it is something that we had to change in our life, and Lala didn’t want to share with us, saying it is private, I am glad that Lala found this channel to discuss things that bothered him and had a professional to guide him.
For me, meeting Dr. Eisenberg was also a great step towards acceptance, knowledge and action, which I will share in the next post.
So if you have the opportunity to select a therapist for your child, jump at it. I think most insurance plans cover it. Psychologist doesn’t prescribe medication, but I think their guidance may be even more powerful than medication in the long run.