Sam, a 7-year-old, has a milder form of ODD than his older brother. His mom, Stephanie, describes him as “the sweetest little kid you’ll ever meet” with a “smile that can melt the world.” You can tell that Sam is upset because his smile disappears. His first years were traumatic and stunted his emotional growth. His mom had to pull him out of kindergarten partway through the year when it became clear he wasn’t ready for it. The administrators and teachers at Sam’s school have been understanding and accommodating, but his behavior remains an ongoing challenge.
“He’s in second grade now and he just struggles being away from me, being able to calm himself down,” Stephanie said. “Last year he was pushing over desks, kicking the teacher, pushing chairs into students.”
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As with her other kids, Stephanie had Sam play Mightier every day during the summer. He took to it quickly. Now, when he’s being “naughty,” Mom tells him to go and get the tablet. She feels like the program has helped rewire his brain and offers this anecdote as proof: “The other day someone was breathing in his space, which is normally cause for a big problem. He turned around to hit them—he told me this when he got home—and then he thought, ‘Maybe I can just blow on them back and see if they like it.’ So, he did, and then they stopped, and that was that.”
“Being able to calm down faster helps him feel like he can convey his thoughts.”
Along with Sam’s newfound ability to stop and think through his actions rather than letting his emotions run wild, he is also learning how to communicate with the adults at school when he feels overwhelmed. As Stephanie describes it, what makes her son’s ODD unique is that “he has a hierarchy in his brain of the people he has to listen to,” one of whom is Mom. In the past, when he would throw a tantrum at school, he would shut down and refuse to talk to the adults about what was going on. This meant that his mom would have to interrupt her day several times a week to drive to school and get Sam to tell her what was wrong. Now that Sam can slow down and try to speak up for himself, he can spend more time in class learning and socializing.
“I really believe that before Mightier, he didn’t feel he could organize his thought patterns fast enough [when he lost his cool],” Stephanie said. “Being able to calm down faster helps him feel like he can convey his thoughts.”
Now that Stephanie can reflect on the strides her kids have taken since they began using Mightier, she wishes that she had taken more detailed notes about their baseline behavior. That’s one piece of advice she has for parents who are considering Mightier for their kids with ODD. She also offers this encouragement: “Your child is worth it. Give them this chance to teach their brain to handle their problems, even if they don’t think they’re ready or don’t want to. It’s a great opportunity for kids to overcome things without even realizing they’re in therapy.”