Teaching empathy for children with behavioral challenges

Happy Kids PhotoAs an author, child advocate and grandfather, I’ve dedicated my “retirement years” to inspiring kids to chase their dreams and helping those who can’t. In my new children’s book series, “The Amazing Ninja Brothers,” I’m using storytelling to create awareness and understanding about youth facing psychiatric challenges, providing teachers, parents, grandparents and youth with a valuable resource to encourage them to demonstrate empathy for friends who are sometimes misunderstood.

I chose to launch the first book in the series, “The Amazing Ninja Brothers: Entering the Deep Unknown,” during National ADHD Month in October to help raise awareness and to offer a resource for families and classmates of children living with ADHD. Approximately 11 percent of children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD, making it a highly relevant topic for all children today.

“Entering the Deep Unknown” features Tommy, a child with ADHD, a chronic condition that leads to hyperactivity, impulsiveness and difficulty paying attention. Tommy’s friends, Aiden and Jacob, are more than just brothers, they are a new wave of ninjas. Unlike other ninjas who use their skills to fight, these amazing ninja brothers use their skills to heal and build understanding in their classroom. Their power comes from the magic of two ancient ninja rings that their great-great-grandfather, an explorer, had discovered in his travels and is now passing down to them. The ninja rings give them the ability to understand how a friend with a psychiatric disorder thinks and how to help a mind that works differently adapt to challenges in the classroom, on the playground and at home.

“Entering the Deep Unknown” is now available at Aerio or Amazon.com, and net proceeds from the book sales will help fund my Bridge to a Cure Foundation, which has a mission to increase the pace and success of pediatric research.

While researching and writing this new book, I worked closely with child psychology professionals to create a realistic and sensitive portrait of how ADHD affects a child, and the hidden strengths that a mind that works differently can bring to friendship, the classroom and home. Chances are, most children have friends or classmates with ADHD, so it’s important they gain the right perspective of the disorder, and to be empathetic and supportive.

“As a psychologist who often works with children dealing with attention and sensory challenges, I am always looking for ways to help children understand what is going on inside of their minds and bodies,” said Jennifer Jo Brout, Ed.M, Psy.D, LPC. “‘Entering the Deep Unknown’ does an excellent job of explaining how ADHD can affect children’s lives, in an age-appropriate way. Not only does this book help to validate and explain these children’s experiences for themselves, but will also serve as a tool to help other children understand how their peers with ADHD experience day-to-day life. By highlighting the great, unique qualities that children with ADHD bring to the table, this book will remove some of the stigma associated with being ‘different,’ particularly at school. This is certainly a book I would recommend to children and families who are dealing with ADHD, and those who seek to understand them.”

Additionally, the book is serving as a resource for educators. Lori Riti, principal at De LaSalle Academy in Florida, a school for children with special needs, also shared her review of the book:

“Tommy and The Amazing Ninja Brothers it is truly delightful. I found the characters endearing and engaging and I’m sure that children will, too. I think the topic of ADHD was handled with sensitivity and accuracy. You brought forward so many of the typical traits and described their pros and cons through the eyes of a child very beautifully. I especially like that Tommy had the opportunity to use his strengths during the fire and in the beautiful pet assignment. It was a joy to read and made me want to sit with a group of students and use it right away to help them understand so many of their classmates. I can envision this story being used as a read aloud with guided discussion with a classroom teacher and/or school counselor. It would be so helpful to neurotypical children, and their teachers as well. Empathy can sometimes be in short supply in America’s classrooms.”

Each book in The Amazing Ninja Brothers series will feature characters with a particular behavioral disorder. With ‘page-turner’ stories featuring a child’s perspective on different, but common disorders, kids reading books from the series will gain insight and understanding of classmates who at times behave differently and the importance of providing their support. Young readers will want to join the new wave of ninjas, enlightening fellow classmates to participate in the celebration of minds that work differently.

Please share your thoughts. . .

By |2018-10-19T12:43:25+00:00October 19th, 2018|

About the Author:

Children’s advocate and author Robert Martin writes books with his granddaughter Keira Ely, including the bestsellers “The Case of the Missing Crown Jewels,” and “SuperClara — a Young Girl’s Story of Cancer, Bravery and Courage.” Robert founded the nonprofit Bridge to a Cure Foundation to tear down the deadly barriers impeding the timely development of pediatric cancer treatments and cures.