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The Appraiser: Part II

D. Himy M.S. CCC-SLP, and Zivia Reischer

“Eli needs to see people who struggled to achieve”

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sarah: These therapists think they know everything.

Therapist: It’s painful for Sarah to acknowledge that Eli doesn’t have the traits she values most.

Eli: If the iceberg had punctured one less watertight compartment, would the Titanic still have sunk?

 

Eli walks in looking like he’d rather be anywhere else.

“Ready to start?”

Eli kicks the desk. “This won’t help. Everyone knows I’m the dumbest in my family!”

“I don’t know that. And I don’t believe it. Do you mean you don’t do as well in school? There are different types of ‘smart.’ Some people are book-smart — they understand information easily. Some people are ‘people-smart’ — they understand people, how they feel, why they do what they do. Or you might have a different talent — music, for instance.”

Eli mutters, “Nobody else needs therapy.”

“You think successful people were born that way.”

“In my family they were! My father was born a genius, my mother too, all my brothers…”

“Ever heard of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel? He was a regular American kid. He wasn’t born a genius — he worked really hard to become the gadol hador.”

I point to the light bulb. “Know who invented that? Thomas Edison. They thought he was dumb when he was a kid. Even as an adult, he worked really hard at his inventions. Most of them failed. If you’re persistent, you can do anything.”

We sit down and start with visualization — Eli picturing in his mind whatever he hears or reads. That way he really acquires the knowledge. [To process what you hear (listening comprehension) and make deductions (inferential thinking), you need the ability to visualize.]

I print out a picture of Eli’s face and glue it to a Popsicle stick. Then I show Eli a large, detailed picture of the Titanic sinking.

I walk Eli-on-a-stick across the page. “You’re on the Titanic’s deck. What do you see?” [Incorporate all five senses in visualization. You learn best from rich experiences.]

“I see people.”

“Great. What sounds do you hear?” [Incorporate all five senses in visualization. You learn best from rich experiences.]

“Screaming.”

“What do you feel?” [Incorporate all five senses in visualization. You learn best from rich experiences.]

“I feel cold… it’s freezing.”

After Eli comes up with as many details as he can, we read the accompanying article. “Water rushed through the hull,” Eli reads.

“What’s a hull?”

Eli looks blank.

“Visualize the scene again. What do you see in your mind? What might a hull be?”

“Uh… the side of the boat?” [Visualization assists reading comprehension.]

There are ten minutes left when Sarah cuts in. “Eli, please go wait at the car,” she says. She turns to me. “Sorry, I don’t buy it. You tell him about Edison and he becomes a genius?”

“If Eli thinks he can’t progress, he won’t. He needs to see people who struggled to achieve.”

“Popsicle-stick puppets are for kindergarten! I’m not paying good money for this!”

“You’re used to evaluating Eli by one criterion: his intellectual achievements. Is it possible you’re overlooking other valuable strengths?”

Sarah makes an impatient sound.

“I believe therapy can be very effective for Eli, but not without your support,” I say quietly. “Maybe you aren’t ready for it yet.”

The words hang in the air.

Originally featured in Family First, Issue 609. D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist in private practice for over 15 years. She is the creator of the Link-It reading comprehension and writing curriculum for elementary school students and directs continuing education programs for speech-language pathologists and educators. 

 

 

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