We are in the process of moving, so unfortunately I do not have the time to view and edit videos, so it may be a month or so before I am able to share more playroom time content. I do have so many updates and there is a constant flow of new developments coming out of Lucas, that I can barely keep track anymore! It’s crazy, I am consistently amazed by the effects of this program on my son and the way it continues to compound ten-fold in our everyday lives.
I follow a page on Facebook led by Bill Nason, and I really thought this post hit home as to some of the fundamentals of Son-Rise and our children in general. Mind you, he is not part of Son-Rise but the techniques that he preaches and the fundamentals that he has found successful in his own practice mirror many of the same concepts. Fancy that! LOL : )
“For many children on the spectrum, “uncertainty” is their greatest fear! When the world is chaotic and confusing, scary and painful, “uncertainty” is your worst enemy. Novelty is an attraction for most young children, driving their curiosity and thirst for learning However, for many children on the spectrum, familiarity and predictably is the only thing that helps them feel safe. High anxiety is the result of this underlying insecurity, leaving the child constantly “on guard” in anticipation of the next assault of uncertainty waiting around the corner.
If you are this child, what do you do to guard yourself and keep yourself safe? When the world is confusing and scary, your senses overwhelming, and people unpredictable how do you survive? You try to control everything around you to make your world as predictable as possible and you aggressively fight any attempt by others to change that. Does that make you feel “happy”; no! However, it is not about feeling happy, it is about escaping fear! You become motivate to escape and avoid uncertainty at all costs! It becomes a survival need, not a drive for happiness.
Since you cannot read the intent and actions of others, their guidance pushes you into continuous uncertainty. The more you resistant, the harder they push; pushing you into the scary void of uncertainty. How can you trust someone who pushes when you are scared, who pressures you into fear. You can’t! You resist in panic; you kick, hit and bit in protest. You build a wall of control that breeds further suspicion and distrust. You anticipate and interpret the approaches by others as possible threats to your security. You cannot trust something that you do not feel safe with.
For a parent how do you build trust in a rigid wall of fear and insecurity? When your guidance is met with fear and fight? The answer lies in “stop guiding.” You cannot guide those who do not trust! They cannot follow your lead if they do not trust you. When your guidance elicits fear and fight, you cannot lead and teach. Stop prompting, instructing, pushing, pressuring and forcing “compliance.” It only breeds further fear and stronger distrust. As a parent or teacher whose role is to guide and direct, nothing makes you feel so inadequate and fearful than the child who adamantly resisting your lead.
You have to build “safe and acceptance” first, before you can develop trust in following your lead. The child has to first feel safe in your presence to allowing you to guide him into uncertainty. To establish this trust you have to back up and stop trying to prompt, instruct, direct, and force compliance. You have to first follow the child’s lead, become a valued partner in his zone of comfort. If he fears uncertainty, then let him lead. Once he feels safe with you sharing his comfort zones, then you can gradually try to stretch these comfort zones.
Make the bulk of your interactions centered on what helps your child feel safe, engaged, and competent. What helps him feel “safe” and what “engages” him? What is he attracted to and what does he feel competent doing? Value what he values, and build yourself into those experiences. Be an active element in his world; one that he values and feels safe. Learn what interaction style he feels safe with and is attracted to? Does he prefer slow, soft and gentle interaction or an exciting, animated style? What types of experiences attracts him (movement, deep pressure, music, video games, baseball statistics, etc.)? If the child likes to hum and rock, then hum and rock together. If historical facts help him feel competent then become a historian! Become excited about what excites him! Stop leading for a while, and be a follower. Establish trust before becoming a guide.
The secret is “affect”, sharing emotion together! Turn his world into a sharing experience. Become part of his play and make it a “we-do;” doing it together and sharing the experience. Be excited and share emotion around the engagement. “Affect”, the sharing of emotion, is the glue that cements safe engagement. Whether that be gentle, soothing affect, or animated, excited emotion; let him lead and then become emotionally attach to it.
These strategies will teach your child to feel safe and accepted by you. However, this alone will not teach him to trust following your lead. Once he feels safe sharing emotional engagement in his activity, with him leading, then you start expanding his comfort zones by adding small variations into what you two are doing. Simply expand by adding small variations, creating small amounts of novelty (uncertainty) to his familiar play. Keep the variations small but fun! Gradually add more and more bits of variations (uncertainty) while he stays feeling safe and engaged with you. If he pulls backs and resists, back up and re-establish safe engagement again. More than likely the variation was a little too much for him. Back up and make it simpler. Keep the emotion sharing going (animated facial expressions, excited voices, etc.); building the emotional connection (essential for trust). Gradually expand more and more by adding small variations to what he already feels safe with. Gradually adding “safe” novelty with the child trusting your guidance, will teach him to feel safe following your lead. Once he feels safe with your guidance he will trust following your lead.”
-Bill Nason, MS, LLP/Excerpted from his Facebook page “Autism Discussion Page”