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.