Child development is, quite utterly, a miracle. A baby is born as wailing little bundle of flesh with nothing in his brain but the instinct to eat and sleep, some primitive reflexes like squinting at bright light, and basic movements like suckling, waving limbs in the air, and crying when hungry or cold or otherwise interested in drawing attention. Two years later, that same boy will be running around, naming objects and speaking in short sentences, following commands and asking questions, playing with other kids, gesturing at his parents, laughing, pouting, defying, engaging. Walk into any preschool or daycare and watch the little kids do their thing. I’ve never really thought of such a scene — chaotic, messy, noisy, and maybe a bit smelly — as a miracle, but it really is. We should marvel at all toddlers learning anything at all, not just the precocious ones.
Because on Monday, I got to observe a classroom-based intervention at the Center for Autism at Westchester and by golly was it jarring. Continue reading Spectrumy Kids
The psychiatric emergency department is not where you want to end up. Yes, it’s an essential piece of every big hospital, but it’s not a happy place. mental illness — often silent, minimized, and neglected — can become so severe that it bursts forth conspicuously from their brains and force the people into involuntary incarceration. The Psych ED receives these people and gathers them in one confined space.
Here, let me describe it.
Continue reading Scenes from the Psych ED
When you visit 2 North at Westchester, you might find 20 teenagers hanging out in a spacious sunlit living room. There’s a big group crowded noisily around a card table as they play Egyptian Ratscrew, slapping their hands in as fast as they can and laughing raucously as cards fly everywhere. Kids are lounging on comfy couches, some conversing quietly with each other, others idly doodling on folders, others next to them read well-worn paperbacks. One sits at a bay window looking out onto the lush lawns and groves of upstate New York. They’re all clad in pajamas and sweats and slippers, all without makeup, all without pretense. There’s not a cellphone in sight. The place looks so placidly idyllic that you might wonder why a place like this exists in a modern world like ours. Well…
NYP Westchester is a dedicated psychiatric hospital, and 2 North is the adolescent unit. Almost all of kids there are admitted for depression and suicidal ideation. Continue reading The 2 North Milieu
Last weekend, I took a train upstate to Storm King Art Center and the nearby Schunemuck State Park. It was a solitary trip by design, and it gave me a lot of time and space — about 8 hours and 23 miles — with nothing but the vibrant autumn trees, my music, and chilly air to keep me company. Well… rather, it let me spend some quality time reflecting upon my Brain and Mind.
Continue reading Autumn, Brains