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Running for the line
  1. C Essex1,
  2. A N Williams2
  1. 1Gulson Hospital, Coventry CV1 2HR, UK
  2. 2Child Development Centre, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton NN1, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr C Essex
    Consultant Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician, Gulson Hospital, Coventry CV1 2HR, UK; room101ntlworld.com

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In 1823, while playing a game of soccer at school, William Webb-Ellis broke the rules. He picked up the ball and ran the whole length of the pitch with it. This memorial statue is in the town of Rugby, which gave its name to the game that his impulsive act inspired.

Most paediatricians get referrals about children with behaviour problems. Some referrals are justified, but in our experience they often stem from the hope that some “physical” cause will be found, one which is treatable if not curable by a tablet.

Do these children need to see a doctor? There is rarely a physical cause. Of course we need to consider conditions such as ADHD, but these are a minority.

A child’s behaviour can be uncomfortable for adults. If we were children now, how many of us would end up being referred for the same “behaviour difficulties” we as doctors are asked to consult on. As Webb-Ellis showed, the ability to think and act “outside the box” may have remarkable results. It is a shame if children cannot be allowed to do anything different without someone deciding this is a “medical problem”. We should encourage creativity within our children and resist the medicalisation of childhood.


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