It’s easy to over­come ‘Af­fec­tive Bas­ket-Case Dis­or­der’

The Sun News (Sunday) - - Tv - BY JOHN ROSEMOND Visit fam­ily psy­chol­o­gist John Rosemond’s web­site www.john­rose­mond.com. Read­ers may send email to ques­tions@rosemond.com.

One of my fa­vorite rock songs of all time (“Hello, I’m John, and I’m a rock ‘n’ roll ad­dict”) is “For What It’s Worth,” writ­ten by Stephen Stills and orig­i­nally recorded by Buf­falo Spring­field. It be­gins, “There’s some­thing hap­pen­ing here; what it is ain’t ex­actly clear….”

That lyric oc­curred to me as I con­tem­plated the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of sto­ries I am hear­ing of young chil­dren with cloth­ing and food “is­sues.” Specif­i­cally, these kids com­plain that their cloth­ing itches or feels tight or their food tastes or feels “funny.” Re­ports of hys­te­ria and throw­ing up are com­mon.

These com­plaints and over-thetop be­hav­iors of­ten re­sult in a di­ag­no­sis of Sen­sory In­te­gra­tion Dis­or­der, con­cern­ing which there is zero hard ev­i­dence ver­i­fy­ing the pseudo-sci­en­tific claims be­ing made by di­ag­nos­ing pro­fes­sion­als. When they say things like “your child’s brain has dif­fi­culty re­ceiv­ing and pro­cess­ing sen­sory in­for­ma­tion,” and “your child ex­pe­ri­ences things like taste and tex­ture dif­fer­ently than does a nor­mal child,” they are throw­ing darts blind­folded.

To­day’s par­ents take this stuff se­ri­ously. And so, in­stead of say­ing, at the first com­plaint of itchy clothes or “funny-tast­ing” food, “You’re go­ing to wear/eat it any­way, end of dis­cus­sion,” to­day’s par­ents be­gin jump­ing around try­ing to make life per­fect for their lit­tle dar­lings.

The fol­low­ing is ax­iomatic: When par­ents as­sign cre­dence to ev­ery emo­tion a child puts out there, he will quickly de­velop what I call Af­fec­tive Bas­ket-Case Dis­or­der. He learns, af­ter all, that if he acts like he is hav­ing an ABCD episode, his par­ents will change their be­hav­ior and re­vise their ex­pec­ta­tions.

Un­der the cir­cum­stances, the child suf­fers be­cause peo­ple who are driven by emo­tion are not happy peo­ple. His par­ents also suf­fer be­cause liv­ing with a per­son with ABCD is highly stress­ful. In­vari­ably, the child’s par­ents be­gin act­ing like emo­tional bas­ket-cases, about which they feel sig­nif­i­cant guilt, thus fur­ther over­load­ing their al­ready-over­loaded emo­tional bas­kets.

Yep, there’s some­thing hap­pen­ing here all right, but I hap­pen to think it’s per­fectly clear. Fifty or so years ago, the men­tal health com­mu­nity per­suaded par­ents that chil­dren had a right to ex­press their (mostly ir­ra­tional) feel­ings freely. It’s been an in­creas­ingly chaotic down­hill ride ever since.

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