Why I’d rather not know

Sometimes children arrive with a pack of information, especially if they’re been given a diagnosis of ADHD, ASD, ODD or any of the other acronyms of difference.  Sometimes we are handed sheets of information compiled by parents or schools explaining a particular condition, or a careful enumeration of the child’s particular skills and struggles.   A member of staff might provide ‘handover’ notes, as if this child were a particularly difficult or fragile package, but to be honest, I’d rather not hear any of this at the start.

We prejudge enough already, as soon as we see a face or hear a name.  To learn about a child before meeting them creates a little thumbnail sketch in our heads, generating expectations that the child then has to navigate.  These other adults are acting with the best of intentions, and there have been times when I’ve reached out for opinions or advice – we all feel stuck sometimes, and context can help us understand what a child might be going through.

But at the start, don’t we all deserve a new clean slate?  A fresh beginning?  Every child needs the chance to be, and to be seen as, a new version of themselves.


One thought on “Why I’d rather not know

  1. Indeed…I too worry about the medicalisation and worse still what is really the pharmaceuticalisation of children’s behaviours. I’m reminded of that double cartoon of a child staring out the school window, The 1975 caption was “daydreaming” and the 2014 was “ADHD”
    But – there is always a but! I made some terrible mistakes back in my early playwork days because there was no information about children who were very vulnerable and indeed abused. The Common Assessment Framework, flawed as it often is, would have been a great help. There is no way of telling but I think one boy would not have ended up serving three life sentences and one girl might not have killed herself – when she was a mother of four young children.

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