Autism at Home? What You Need to Know
1 - Your kid is emotionally reacting to the environment. Period. Whether it is a task demand, a buzzing light fixture, or a transition from a preferred activity, your kid is demonstrating an internal state. The same is true when your kid giggles, runs to you smiling, or sits quietly at play. Everything that you see is related to your kid's emotion regarding the situation.
Sometimes this hurts. Like when we really want to hug our kid who doesn't like to be touched. Or when signing along with our favorite songs literally reduces our kids to tears. Sensory processing issues are the hardest for us parents to live with - because these are the issues that tend to isolate us as families.
2 - Your kid is NOT trying to make your life harder. Seriously. Try to remember what it was like being a kid. If you tell me that you were "well behaved", "compliant", or "sweet", I'm going to ask you to remember harder. Remember a time you really wanted something and were told "no". Or a time when you were forced to go somewhere that was scary to you. Try to recall the feelings that you experienced as a child. Lets start simply: were the feelings big or small?
Let's be honest. We KNOW that our kids are experiencing extreme emotions, but we are given some pretty academic interventions to "reduce unwanted behaviors" as if those behaviors just show up out of nowhere.
Ready to geek out with me for a second? If not skip to the next paragraph! :D
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an ever-expanding field which began with almost robotic-like interventions (Discrete Trial Therapy) and has now broadened to include models like the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM is nearly all play based and build independence) and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI is a fun way of connecting with one another!).
ABA has yet to create a method of teaching, or expanding upon, emotional intelligence beyond recognition of emotional dispositions from facial and postural cues.
This is where Functional Emotional Fitness comes in to support all the wonderful interventions that you've already been learning and using.
In my house, with my kid's diagnosis, my twenty year background in Autism helped me to recognize a few major truths:
1- I could teach my kid anything I wanted him to know
1a - I had no idea what he was interested in
2 - He was very accommodating about working with others
2a - He was less accommodating about working with me
3 - I desperately wanted him to be happy
3a - I wasn't sure he would ever know what that felt like
4 - None of my knowledge helped me to not feel a little hopeless about the future
4a - How messed up is that?
In my house, my 2 hour phone call with Kelly Burris about Functional Emotional Fitness helped me to realize a few different major truths:
1 - I was ignoring my best resource
2 - The only way to help my son develop emotionally was to get him involved in the emotional process
3 - Simplicity is the key to success
4 - We would have to rely on ourselves for this -- and after this 2 hour phone call, I felt really prepared for this.
Learning how to tap into my own emotional process (emotions are part of a process!) helped me create the path towards modeling, teaching, and encouraging emotional regulation with my own kid, and with families I've worked with from California to North Carolina and everywhere in between!
My son "no longer meets criteria for a diagnosis of Autism", but he still faces challenges in the world. Using Functional Emotional Fitness, he has been able to bridge those gaps beautifully. He is about to enter the 3rd grade, completely unassisted, and he is excited to reconnect with his friends (because he makes friends with ease now!) and even has hopes of having a girlfriend this year (YIKES!!!). When he gets frustrated, he goes back to the tools - because they are so easy to learn and use that an 8-year-old has mastered them! And while it is much more challenging to change the behavior of adults, I know you can learn these tools, too, with the right guidance!
What you really need to know is that you are your best resource. What you don't yet know is how to tap into that resource with confidence. I'll get you there. It starts with a connection. Let's connect!