Charlie was four years old when his mum Loretta started to wonder if some of his behaviour was more than just every day kid stuff. She noticed consistent defiance and problems controlling emotions. She noticed anger and lashing out, and instead of assuming Charlie was just naughty, she set out to find out what was going wrong, and help her son in every way she could.
Her hard work paid off and she not only taught herself every behaviour management tool under the sun, but she also got a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiance Disorder with aggression for Charlie. This diagnosis didn’t change things for Loretta, Charlie was still her son who she loved deeply, he was still the smart, witty, kind boy she knew, but it did help to wrap support around him and Loretta and give them the chance to target their behaviour and emotional management.
When people think of disability and learning needs, they often think of visible disabilities, like Down Syndrome or CHARGE Syndrome, but what often gets overlooked are the other conditions and syndromes that are invisible to the unknowing eye, but just like visible disabilities, they need acceptance and support and inclusion. Without knowledge, information and the right tools, parents, teachers and other adults in these children’s lives dismiss the behaviour and throw their hands up in frustration. We need to understand that disabilities come in different shapes and forms, and understanding them and recognising them helps us to ensure we support families and individuals in the ways they need, instead of assuming the worst of parents and their children.
In the process of finding a diagnosis for her son she wrote the beautiful book, The Horse and The Hurricane King, inspired in part by Charlie’s equestrian therapy, which explores the story of a young boy who struggles to control and manage his emotions.