Conversations between a boy, his brain and his heart

During dinner tonight, Cameron (my 6 yr old with Autism) began to explain that he did bad things yesterday because his brain told him too. His brain gave him the bad ideas and he had to listen to his brain and so that is why he did those things.

It was at this point that I decided to introduce Cameron to his heart.

Thought vs Feeling

Brain vs HeartI explained to Cameron that his brain will always want to do things… some things that are good, some things that are bad. That’s because the brain doesn’t know what is right or wrong. The brain just gives you thoughts and ideas.

I told him that there’s another voice inside him that makes him feel if something is right or wrong. It doesn’t make him want to do anything but it does tell him if what he’s doing is good or bad… right or wrong.

Cameron: “How do you listen to your heart?

Me: “Well, it doesn’t really speak to you… it makes you feel.

Cameron: “Feel what?

Me: “If your brain tells you to go and play instead of eating your supper… your heart makes you feel good or bad about that. Your heart is what makes you feel if something is a good thing to do or a bad thing to do.

Cameron “…”

Me: “Does your heart tell you it’s good or bad if you don’t eat supper?

Cameron: “Bad.

Me: “So even though your brain wants to go and play, your heart knows that you should stay and eat, right?

Cameron: “I should stay and eat! I should listen to my heart!

Decisions

Cameron: “So I have to make my heart tell my brain?

Me: “No. Your brain tells you what it wants to do and your heart tells you if it’s a good thing or bad thing. Then it’s up to you to decide if you want to do it.

Cameron: “I decide?

Me: “Yes. Do you remember when mom would give you two shirts to choose from when you got dressed in the morning? She’d ask you ‘Do you want this shirt, or this shirt?’ and you got to pick which one you wanted?

Cameron: “ya…

Me: “Well, your brain will want to do things and your heart will make you feel good or bad about it… then you get to decide ‘Do I do it or do I not do it?’

Cameron: “I get to decide?

Me: “Yes. That’s why you should always listen to your heart.

After dinner

I finished eating first but a short time later, Cameron left the kitchen table with a huge smile, went straight to his mom and said “Mom, guess what!? I finished all of my supper because I listened to my heart!

He was so proud.

A little while later his little brother was getting into a little bit of trouble, so Cameron pulled him aside and said “Tyler, you have to listen to your heart! Then you won’t get in trouble!

This isn’t the first time that he’s explained to us how his brain thinks up the bad things and he just has to do them. But until now, I really had no way to handle that sort of thing. A 5 year old with obvious language/understanding deficits can only be reasoned with so much.

But now…. he’s such a proud 6 year old. Still with deficits, yet wise beyond his years… and so very bright.

I have complete faith that, even though he’ll still get into trouble like any boy should…. he’ll never forget how important it is to listen to his heart.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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10 Responses to Conversations between a boy, his brain and his heart

  1. Debbie K. August 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Sweet! I love it! Bless his smart little heart!

  2. Tarasview August 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    I love this- I am totally going to use it!! My son has often told us his brain tells him to do bad things and he has to do them.

    Well done you!!

  3. DragonSlayerMama August 8, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Brilliant! Your little guy sounds wise indeed. I will definitely be borrowing this to explain to my own little guy who has been really struggling lately. Thank you! 🙂

  4. Marita August 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Awww beautiful that he listened to his heart and ate dinner.

    We often get ‘my head made me do it’ so I will suggest the girls listen to their hearts.

  5. veggie mama August 9, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    I love this! I will be telling my daughter when she’s old enough.

  6. Claire A August 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    This story should be shared with all parents. Loved it.

  7. darrylann March 4, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    That was amazing. i wish your family the best. 🙂

  8. Erez Zrien March 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    With me it works different. My big problem is not my brain at all, but my heart! My brain is trying to tell me to do things that are reasonable, and even good for me and for others, but not bad, but unfortunately I can’t do what my brain tells me, because my heart pulses, and makes me a strong feeling to do other thing instead. This thing often not bad, but not good too, but rarely it can be bad! Because my heart, I failed to do many things I wanted with my brain. I shouldn’t not listen to my heart, my heart is the bad thing, and my brain is good. I am the brain, and I should fight my heart until I defeat it, and get my freedom to do whatever I WANT! no what I DESIRE!
    I am against the message you tried to bring here Stuart Duncan. For me it is not true!, and not only for me, but for many other people, for example thieves that did crimes for no purposes, because it was fun to them, their heart encourages them to do these crimes, no their brain. Your message is true, if their purpose was to steal money or something very expensive and rare. This will come from brain, but smoking cigarettes come from heart. I am surprise that you’ve many and only likes, but no me!

  9. Bal Dobe November 8, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Hi Stuart,

    Did you get my email,

    I would be happy to call you to discuss this, if you let me have your telephone number.

    Kind regards
    BD

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