Why Men in the Head™?
Men in the Head™ is a term I came up with when my son was around 5 years old and my daughter was 3 years old. My son was working with an occupational, physical and speech therapist every week as well as seeing an acupuncturist and flower essence therapist on a regular basis. Additionally, we had a learning specialist working with his class 2 or 3 days per week using bibliotherapy, play, and conversational games to help him connect with others. Needless to say, he had an incredible appetite for healing therapies allowing us to saturate him with therapy.
Well, obviously, he noticed. He noticed that he was doing an awful lot and his sister was doing absolutely nothing. So when he asked why he was doing all of this work, I thought about how to explain the inner-workings of the brain to a 5 year old.
Okay, this is difficult to explain. So to completely oversimplify and perhaps offend anyone with the least amount of education in this area, I apologize. This is a laymen explanation to a 5 year old child.
I came up with a visual of Men in the Head™ and explained that we each have ‘little men’ in our heads and they need to do certain things for us and we sometimes need to help them.
We talked about what they looked like and how much fun they had playing and reading and doing all of his favorite things. The next question he asked was; ‘Why did his men need help?’ So I explained that the men in his head on the right side did not talk to the men in his head on the left side and that made it hard for him to do certain things. Of course, the next question, was, ‘Like what?’
So, I continued to explain that is was really hard for him to learn how to ride a bike, throw and catch a ball, walk up the stairs using alternating feet, and how he had a hard time talking to other kids, going to birthday parties, or hearing loud noises.* He took this all in stride and really liked the Men in the Head™ term so we kept using it. We had many, many conversations about his men and how he was doing such a great job helping them and how happy they were to be getting so much attention. In fact, his sister was involved in a number of these conversations, even though she kept insisting she had kitties in her head and definitely not men.
*He exhibited a number of aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome, in addition to sensory & non-verbal disorders, so we obviously were concerned with many more issues than those described above. However, I certainly wasn’t going to tell him about the visual & working memory, attention, sensory, emotional, expressive, coding or executive functioning concerns.
Update as of 2011. His official diagnosis is quirky. He is no longer on any spectrum or being treated for any symptoms or conditions. So, we feel the full immersion in both traditional and alternative therapies helped to rewire his brain and develop connections to help him navigate and leverage the strengths of both the right and left ‘men in his head.’
I like it! Nicely explained, Kim. And it’s fun to hear about the “early days” for your awesome kids.