Today, I had a very interesting chat with a 14 year old girl who I have known for many years. She was in a bit of a fix. She had recently wrenched her right shoulder ball and socket joint due to which she had to wear a sling. It had healed a lot but she had been advised by the doctor not to strain it. But she insisted on wearing the sling to the school despite the fact that it restricted her movements. I was a little confused about this. Her answer was really interesting, “If I don’t wear the sling then the teacher will not believe that I have a problem”. I was stumped by the truth in those words. And it set me thinking…

We do not want to believe anything unless it is right there staring us in the face. I had learned while training as a clinical psychologist that “Eyes cannot see what mind does not know”. But here it was “Mind does not want to know what eyes cannot see”.

And what about all the children who have no slings to show? They struggle with their “hidden disability” day after day. We cannot see attention difficulties, we can’t touch dyslexia, we can’t even measure despair or anguish of a child. All that we see is a child who doesn’t match up to our expectations. Incomplete work, low scores, scruffy notebooks, no motivation to learn, frequent suspensions and a defiant attitude to boot.

I know, I know we have all seen these children. Raised our eyebrows, shrugged our shoulders in resignation. Lazy, slow, low IQ, stupid, dumb, duffer, good for nothing. We are quick to label them. After all, there are no slings!

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