Yaniv’s parents had both spent most of their childhoods in and out of various frameworks for children from troubled homes. Having those struggles in common is what brought them together. They vowed to dedicate their lives to helping children facing similar situations and became foster parents for many years. Yaniv was their only biological child.
Yaniv was both exceptionally bright and exceptionally hyperactive. He lived life at 100 miles an hour, constantly moving, doing, making noise. Yaniv was the sort of child who, when taken to a playground, would climb over the apparatus to get to the roof and then attempt all sorts of dangerous stunts while his more timid contemporaries just stood and watched.
His parents would take him to the library, but he would read a week’s worth of books so fast that within hours he’d be looking for something else to do. His parents would come into the kitchen to find Yaniv’s latest cooking experiments had every pot and pan in use and all the sugar and ketchup invariably finished. He was both exhausting and inexhaustible.
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Yaniv was very loud but generally talked in a fast and almost incomprehensible monologue. It didn’t seem to bother him that no one else responded when he talked to them. He didn’t usually wait long enough to even notice.
One day, when Yaniv was 13, he was many hours late home from school. He told his parents that he’d taken on a dare, and agreed to let his friends tie him to a tree in a patch of wasteland, and leave him there by himself. The friends only came back and released him long after dark. Yaniv’s parents found this explanation strange. Yaniv didn’t really have any friends, and it seemed unlike their high energy son to let himself be tied down. In the weeks that followed, Yaniv started acting out. He was rude and angry and kept disappearing for long stretches. He had always been challenging, but now something seemed very wrong. Yaniv’s parents were worried that something more sinister had happened to him the time when he was so late home, and they didn’t know how to help him. They called Kav L’Noar.
In his first meeting with Yaniv and his parents, the therapist sensed that Yaniv’s parents had trouble relating to him. They appeared embarrassed by how their son talked, how he bounced on the furniture, and how when offered a drink, he drank a whole can of cola in one go and then burped at full volume. They seemed to shrink into themselves to compensate, talking especially quietly and unnaturally politely.
The therapist realized immediately that conventional sessions would not work for Yaniv. He wanted Yaniv to feel understood, but also to channel his incredible energy in a more controlled way. One time he put up a mini basketball hoop in the therapy room and took turns with Yaniv to shoot hoops using soft sponge balls. Another time he rigged up a table-top net and they attempted a very confined volleyball. Sometimes they competed with each other and other times they tried to break their own record for the longest therapy room rally. As the weeks wore on, Yaniv brought in games from home. The therapist in turn taught Yaniv to play some of his favorite card and board games. Yaniv loved coming, saying that no one had ever been willing to play with him like the therapist. Naturally, amongst all the fun and laughter of the games, they talked to each other and Yaniv would share what was on his mind. The therapist constantly facilitated opportunities for Yaniv to express himself and take pride in his accomplishments. Yaniv became very attached to the therapist, calling him his best friend, and creating a special greeting just for him. During this time, Yaniv’s general communication skills improved dramatically.
Meantime, the therapist was also meeting very regularly with Yaniv’s parents. They told him how intimidated they were by Yaniv. All their foster children had come with social workers who offered direction and guidance. Yaniv came with no-one. Having grown up without experiencing supportive parents or a normal childhood, they felt lost as parents. They were frightened to set boundaries, self-conscious, nervous, and shy around their exuberant son. Yet Yaniv experienced all this as cold disinterest and was left feeling completely alone.
The therapist worked with Yaniv’s parents to teach them how to interact and have fun with their son, how to set boundaries, and how to use verbal skills to engage him. Yaniv started trusting his parents and sharing with them the things going on in his life. When they asked again what had happened that day when he’d been tied up, Yaniv repeated the same story, but admitted that it hadn’t been a dare, it had been without his consent, and he’d been terrified. He also told them that the therapist was helping him to process the incident.
Yaniv left therapy after eighteen months, more secure, content, close with his parents, and ready to move to the next stage of his development.
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