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I have flexibility on my mind, partly because I'm sort of rigid myself and more because I'm trying to learn what I can do for ds.  I'd love to hear what people do to work on this.  I'll follow with something someone sent me back channel.  As you can see, she has worked very intentionally on it, and I don't want to lose the ideas and thought they might inspire others.

 

As a secondary question, how do you pursue *structure* without having it backfire into rigidity??  I guess the post I'm about to paste in hits some of that, but that's one of the things that confuses me.

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From a friend backchannel...

 

*********************

 

One of the very first things the psychologist who first diagnosed dd with Asperger's, at age eight, said was to model flexible thinking and action EVERY SINGLE DAY, in every way I possibly could.  I took this perhaps further than she anticipated, LOL.  
 
--Whenever dd expressed an interest in doing some activity, even if we were in the middle of something else, I talked about how we could rearrange our schedule and do it.  I tried to pick up on any spontaneous wish she expressed, no matter how frustrating it could be to be interrupted in housework or whatever -- flexible thinking was more important.  
 
--When we did math, we'd talk through something and I'd say, "How else could we have done this?"  (DD got really really annoyed at hearing this from me all the time, but she internalized it eventually and uses it as a strategy now, but it took until she was quite old, 17 or so.)
 
--When we read something and she had a question, I talked through how I went about looking for answers, making sure to incorporate multiple paths for doing so and to SHOW her myself using multiple avenues: books on our shelves, the internet, asking people questions, etc.  
 
--I read about something called "social postmortems," in which you discuss with a child what worked and didn't work at a particular event.  We started doing this with everything, from cooking to math to playground meetings.  I'd talk about how I mistakenly put X into my cooking pot, or I had unexpectedly run out of Y, how I could substitute or fix it, etc.
 
--We read lots of short biographies about inventors who found out things they weren't looking for, who struggled through years of mistakes or blind alleys, people who clung to old theories and people who embraced new ones ahead of the crowd.  
 
-- I talked out loud about everything during the day, telling dd about things that came up unexpectedly that I had to deal with, talking about how sometimes it could feel very frazzling, but ultimately things got done and back to what passes for normal at our house.
 
-- We studied brains and thinking.  At one point we had a huge wall chart that I had to hide whenever people came over, because we were "typing" everyone we knew as to rigid/flexible thinking, linear/nonlinear thinking, mathematically or humanities oriented, auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners, etc.  We even had our dogs and some horses up there at one point.  When she was older, we read about the genetic components of these things, and what people can do to maximize their brain flexibility.

--We played lots of improv games, verbal and physical.  We listened to and watched improv comedy.  
 
--We deliberately practiced messing with our usual routines.  We'd have occasional "backwards" days, with dinner in the morning and breakfast at night, dessert first and main course second, etc.  We drove different routes to our usual destinations.  We had "explorations" where we just drove randomly around to go down roads we hadn't before.  
 
--We rewrote endings to fairy tales, read spoofs and parodies and sequels, and did anything I could to get across the idea that a story was not "fixed" but could be played with and changed.
 
--We played board games and changed the rules.  She was HUGELY resistant to this at first, but grew to enjoy it.  When we played Scrabble, for instance, we would award one another points based on how aesthetically pleasing the words were; when we played The Game of Life, I would sell her my children.  There are games like Killer Bunnies and Munchkin which encourage this type of experimentation and bending of rules, negotiating and compromising.  
 
--As she grew older, we started talking about psychology in the workplace.  I have books about dealing with people at work, etc. which she hasn't read yet, but I hope she will.  We have books about cultural differences as well, so she sees that things she considered "rules" are not immutable but a product of a historical time and place, and that they CHANGE, that what is "right" in one place may not be in another.  We read a few books about various cultural taboos, and about what people eat in different countries.
 
--We talked a LOT, as in until I was blue in the face, about knowing when a day is just not working academically (whether it be from hormones, illness, stress, whatever) and when it makes sense to put work aside for a few hours or even until the next day.  It took a couple of years, but she now is perfectly comfortable with this, and on the very rare occasions when she's having a really bad day, she can walk away instead of getting caught up in a cycle of persistence and inability to adapt her course.
 
--We compared different treatments of the same issue, whether it be which book to read next or varied opinions of a political issue or models of something.  We talked about how people can use different sets of mental lenses in these things, which allow them to see or which highlight different things.  
 
--I compared what we did in other areas to how her OT had approached her fine motor skills.  Rather than letting her develop expertise at one single activity, she was rotated through a whole slew of different ones each session.  We talked about why that was, how it was sort of like riding a horse in that having to constantly adjust balance or adapt to different ways of using her hands strengthened them overall in a way that one single skill couldn't do.  We talked about how different social situations developed social skills in the same way, and if she restricted herself to the things she was comfortable with, she wouldn't develop her social side and be able to respond flexibly and comfortably because she wouldn't have as many mental models of variations and possibilities.
 
--For five years, she had a work/study type job at the riding stables, doing everything from office work to exercising and washing horses.  This let her experience the working world of the adults around her without there being any high financial or other stakes involved for her.  Volunteering or a mentorship or internship would have fulfilled the same goals.
 
--We discussed her strengths and weaknesses pretty straightforwardly, although in a gentle and limited way when she was little; now she is growing very comfortable with talking about them herself.  I was told to find activities where outsiders rather than mom would acknowledge and discuss her strengths and weaknesses.  We found this through horseback riding and jumping primarily, but later on, also through other outside classes, a neuropsych evaluation, and a SAT tutor.
 
--This past year, at age 17, she started on anti-depressants to manage both cyclical, hormonally-induced depression and anxiety.  They have transformed her world; she is much more willing to try new things socially, to take risks, to laugh at mistakes.  My child, who refused to leave the house pretty well for a couple of bad years, went to London last summer wit her dad, and while he was at meetings, she wandered out around London all by herself for several days.  She got lost, figured it out, got herself where she wanted.  The girl who was frozen rigid in social situations just last night issued her first dinner party invitations to people she met at her community college class -- a HUGE step for her.  As much as she was developing intellectual flexibility through the things we did, it took the medication to give her the ability to put that into practice socially, without debilitating stress.
 
--Like the OP, she would get stuck/fixated on certain things and not want to venture outside them.  This lasted for years and years.  I would gently try to expand the interest in any direction I could.  Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't.  She was insistent, for instance, that she didn't want to learn anything outside of the text of a book -- not historical context, not author biography -- or a movie -- not how it was made, not about the script or actors, not other movies by the same director, etc.  It has only been since she turned 16 or 17 that this started to change, and it came about through theater.  Her interest in theater was so intense that we began scraping and scrimping and searching for cheap tickets everywhere we could, including many free events.  Through season tickets for people under twenty, which were often cheaper than individual performances, she began to be exposed to many different dramatic genres, directing styles, types of stage design, etc.  We started going to discussion sessions, readings of new plays, meetings with actors and choreographers, associated lectures and museum exhibits.  She started reading online about theater and developed a huge body of historical knowledge about theater.  When she was in London, she toured several theaters behind the scenes and had saved up her money (allowance, garage sales, etc.) to go to four shows.  In fact the idea of theater in London is what got her over the huge block of her fear of travel in the first place.  
 
--At our most recent neuropsych evaluation (age 17), the neuropsych encouraged me to keep talking about little ordinary daily mistakes, how I handled them, how nothing terrible happened, etc., about my own strengths and weaknesses, about things I noticed dd doing that were stretching her out of her comfort zone and to applaud her for these.  We made a BIG DEAL out of her courage when she issued her party invitations.  
 
--She was panicked about the SAT, so I spent hours finding a tutoring center that had specialists in reducing text anxiety.  She changed from being a kid who was sure she would "fail" the test into someone who considered the whole thing a huge imposition on her time and her desire to sleep in!  She ended up getting just about a perfect 2400, but that wasn't even my goal and I made sure she knew that -- the goal was to make her confident she could make it through the test, and know the limits of just what it measured.

 

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I don't know, OhE. Our experience with our ds is very different. Many of the things in that list are things are just part of our family life. Maybe bc there are so many of us, but we have never let our ds dictate how we function and he has had to adjust to non-routine bc our days are unpredictable. When you are #2 out of 8, you have lived through 6 newborns throwing a household into a new routine. We move a lot. (We have moved 7 times (across the country and internationally) and 1time locally since he was born. He has adjusted to all of those situations without too much difficulty.

 

Where our ds's fixed ideas cause problems are when he decides there is something he wants/believes and he will not accept that his plans are not realistic or his interpretation of the situation is not accurate (this latter scenario relates mostly to personal relationships.) Realistic goals and planning are besmirched for his fantasy objectives (or interpretations.) For example, right now he says he wants to move out next yr and live at the beach. But if you start discussing nitty gritty details for formulating a plan, he gets angry and says you don't want him to do whatever it is he wants. It isn't that we aren't supporting him in his ideas ( his interpretation), but that we are laying out all the steps that need to be taken to get there and he absolutely does not want to think through the small details but only focus on his ideal "wants." It is hard to explain on a discussion board, but when we discuss focusing on specific job training skills that would lead to his goal, he refuses to take the steps to move in that direction bc either it isn't a job he likes or a field he is interested and on and on. So his inflexibility in thinking beyond his wants to how to realistically get there (which requires discomfort on his part, either in working in areas that don't appeal to him or not spending $$ the way he wants, etc) is where we have major issues.

 

As multiple therapists have told him, he has to want to change the situation with real effort vs. just wanting to change. He refuses to make the leap beyond the latter to the former.

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--At our most recent neuropsych evaluation (age 17), the neuropsych encouraged me to keep talking about little ordinary daily mistakes, how I handled them, how nothing terrible happened, etc., about my own strengths and weaknesses, about things I noticed dd doing that were stretching her out of her comfort zone and to applaud her for these.  We made a BIG DEAL out of her courage when she issued her party invitations.  

 

This is the point I honed in on out of that post as the thing I have done the most.  Your friend is full of much helpful advice, but the above is something I began doing very organically during our days with my kid who saw every single mistake as a huge personal failure which meant this child was stupid and incapable in all ways.  This negative self-talk led to emotional meltdowns which caused us to lose entire days of schooling (and life).

 

I have been practicing an ongoing "think out loud" dialog for many years now, and I think it has helped to reprogram the very linear, negative and catastrophic thinking of this child.  I make mistakes often as a person who is moving quickly and tries to multitask. I am also poor at math.  So I began this process of retraining my kid's brain by pointing out mistakes I made while doing math problems alongside him and laughed loudly and pointedly at myself, making light of it but not making fun of myself.  After I had done this for about a solid year, I would guess, I think it started to kick in a bit.  I tried a few trial balloons of laughing at him when he made a careless error like I had laughed at myself.  This is tricky because some kids will feel that you are making fun of them so I tried it a bit here and there, and he actually seemed pretty okay with it.  The point was to desensitize the natural process of making errors and to model being accepting of one's mistakes. 

 

I have also been very honest with my kids about my strengths and weaknesses in academic areas and have explicitly taught repeatedly the lesson I have learned which is that you do not judge your overall intelligence, talents, abilities by looking through the lens of your weaknesses or mistakes.  I am naturally a very self-deprecating person with a healthy self-esteem so I think it is pretty natural for me to model these things.

 

Your ds is very young so just remember that he remains in a very concrete developmental phase  Many if not most kids his age struggle with change.  I think it is good to start small.  If he always wants to use a certain pencil, use a different one that day.  Stand up in the middle of the school day and announce that you are going for an ice cream or something.  Mix up the order in which you do schoolwork.  Anything that is different will stretch that part of his brain that wants things to be the same always.  However, do have understanding for him of the concrete phase he is in and don't expect him to mature out of that sooner than he would normally...or that any other kid would normally.

 

One of my completely NT kids was the biggest pain in the butt regarding schooling in K and 1st.  My non NT kid was the easiest.  He has always been compliant.  The exchange between his brain and his emotions just fails to work for him at times, and he gets overwhelmed.  OT helped this a great deal, and he needed time to mature.  Last week he got bogged down in math, didn't ask for help, and ended up locking himself in a bathroom for 30 minutes and crying.  I gave him some time, then went in and comforted him and tried to help him write a new script for the one in his brain that told him that he was stupid.  He will be 14 in the fall so this is still an issue at times, but it is not a daily or even weekly issue now.  It has been a long process.

 

Hope that there are some useful things in there, and I look forward to hearing from others.  Together, the Hive has a lot of experience and help with these things.

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As a secondary question, how do you pursue *structure* without having it backfire into rigidity??  I guess the post I'm about to paste in hits some of that, but that's one of the things that confuses me.

We have a loose structure to our days, but because we have several kids, a dh with a work at home business, volunteer work, doc and orthodontic appointments, vet appointments for the animals, elderly relatives we help, phone calls, college girl coming in and out, friends, sports practices, etc., life just naturally provides a lot of interruptions.  I am also not that good at getting started at the same time every day and things like this which help to avoid rigid expectations on the part of my kids that things will always be a certain way.  We are failures (multiple times) of following chore charts, and I never plan for breakfast but just figure it out on the fly every morning.  This is true for dinner many days, too.  I don't have days I do laundry or vacuum or go to the grocery store.  Everything gets done - we just don't have a solid schedule for it.  I think this helps the kids to accept the loose structure to our life. 

 

Are you a strictly scheduled sort of person?  What do you most struggle with in terms of your own rigidity? 

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DS10 can be very rigid and focused, but it manifests in his thinking, not in doing.  So he gets stuck on an idea and won't let it go.  It helps him to have greater structure in his day (he doesn't actually desire it, but he functions better with it).  I think it depends on what kind of flexibility one is aiming for whether the listed ideas would work.  A lot of them are verbal and involve a lot of discussion. 

 

DS tends to tune out, so in our case that kind of thing would have to happen in little bits. We're still figuring things out, but I think DS needs a lot of structure to his day, and then I would need to work on flexibility in ways that don't undermine that. Discussing different ways to do things: yes. Making him change pencils when he has a very favorite: no, because that would then derail the rest of the lesson or day.

 

It's a balancing act, for sure.  We haven't figured it out yet. Listening in!

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Are you a strictly scheduled sort of person?  What do you most struggle with in terms of your own rigidity? 

I've been thinking about this for a few hours now, and I'm thinking maybe I should plead the 5th?  ;)   It's a very good question though, and I'm catching something that hadn't occurred to me, that it might show up different ways in different people.  

 

Can I ask a question though?  How do you as a mom, when something is happening in front of you in a young dc (10 and under say), determine if it's a rigidity/flexibility issue or a discipline/compliance issue?  How do you sort them out when the rubber meets the road and you're responsible for teaching to BOTH?

 

About the comment that the list my friend gave me is very verbal.  I would think it would be.  That's how I talk with him and work with him?  However I do think it's an interesting twist to ponder what difference *gender* makes in the intensity or ways it manifests or how you work with them.

 

So then to explore how I *think* you could answer the question I posited on discriminating discipline vs. SN (both of which obviously should be taught for), would you say the distinguishing feature is basically a meltdown?  But then how do you discriminate a meltdown from what my dd terms a temper tantrum?  (I hate that term and wouldn't say my ds does such a thing, but it's a term my dd uses, perhaps imprecisely).    After all, these ARE still developing humans with volition and will that enters into the equation.  As dh and I talked about it, that was the question that developed.  

 

So how have you as mothers discriminated there and determined how to handle the thing in front of you?  

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Your ds is very young so just remember that he remains in a very concrete developmental phase  Many if not most kids his age struggle with change.  I think it is good to start small.  If he always wants to use a certain pencil, use a different one that day.  Stand up in the middle of the school day and announce that you are going for an ice cream or something.  Mix up the order in which you do schoolwork.  Anything that is different will stretch that part of his brain that wants things to be the same always.  However, do have understanding for him of the concrete phase he is in and don't expect him to mature out of that sooner than he would normally...or that any other kid would normally.

I didn't not know about this, but it makes sense.  So at what age do they typically shift out of this concrete perspective?  

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We pretty much do what is listed in your post and I do think it has been very helpful. I also think that all these kiddos have a different level of rigidity and executive functioning deficits and that it is necessary to be looked at altogether. When the level of executive functioning troubles are rather substantial your movement with flexible thinking will only get you so far if the child doesn't possess good planning skills to carry our his plan b or has not developed much in way of goal directed persistence.

 

When ds was younger I would find things within our routine to change up. Even just things like sitting in a different spot at the table for breakfast. Our days have always had a routine for our structure but things within the routine are always subject to change. I think at your son's age it is important to also give him all the language around being flexible and talk to him about what being flexible looks like.

 

I also believe working on problem solving with our slp and on our own has been very helpful in making ds more flexible and to have better emotional regulation.

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This is an interesting thread. The Unstuck and on Target Book/Curriculum is focused on flexibility. I see a lot of what is mentioned in some of what that book does. We're only half through, and I've temporarily stopped. We hit sections on self calming/emotional control and spun wheels. I've decided to do another program to target emotional control. Outside of poor emotional regulation, and so not handling disappointment well, my son's inflexbility has more to do with his ideas/dreams/plans/focus than day to day ins and outs of life. The book, so far, is very day to day in it's focus. 

 

I'm going to follow this thread.

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Can I ask a question though?  How do you as a mom, when something is happening in front of you in a young dc (10 and under say), determine if it's a rigidity/flexibility issue or a discipline/compliance issue?  How do you sort them out when the rubber meets the road and you're responsible for teaching to BOTH?

 

........

 

So then to explore how I *think* you could answer the question I posited on discriminating discipline vs. SN (both of which obviously should be taught for), would you say the distinguishing feature is basically a meltdown?  But then how do you discriminate a meltdown from what my dd terms a temper tantrum?  (I hate that term and wouldn't say my ds does such a thing, but it's a term my dd uses, perhaps imprecisely).    After all, these ARE still developing humans with volition and will that enters into the equation.  As dh and I talked about it, that was the question that developed.  

 

So how have you as mothers discriminated there and determined how to handle the thing in front of you?

 

I am not sure I understand the question.  I don't distinguish between them when I am determining how to handle the immediate behavior.   Whether the behavior is from defiance or the behavior is from compulsion, either way the behavior needs to be stopped and the child needs to get control of himself.    My response should always be calm authority and getting him to distance himself from the reactive behavior to controlled behavior.  

 

Only after the situation is diffused do I make a distinction.   Defiance should have natural consequences.   Compulsions require recognition of the trigger for the negative behavior and all parties working on establishing boundaries that keep them from turning into conflict.     It also does not mean the 2 are mutually exclusive, either.   A compulsive behavior that they do not want to stop can turn into willful defiance when they make the conscious decision to violate established boundaries.   For example, if an agreed upon solution is that a certain time warning will be given when you expect them to stop engaging in a certain activity and they refuse to.  (some people may be clueless to what I am describing, but  one example is that our ds was literally a compulsive drawer.   He would draw the same thing over and over for hours.   If we gave him an agreed upon warning and provided him with the outside cues to start disengaging, even though he had agreed to certain boundaries like a warning when he needed to stop for dinner, he would not always disengage.   That moves from compulsion to defiance when he has been given the opportunity to mentally work through the steps to stop his activity and knowingly refuses to do so.)

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This is an interesting thread. The Unstuck and on Target Book/Curriculum is focused on flexibility. I see a lot of what is mentioned in some of what that book does. We're only half through, and I've temporarily stopped. We hit sections on self calming/emotional control and spun wheels. I've decided to do another program to target emotional control. Outside of poor emotional regulation, and so not handling disappointment well, my son's inflexbility has more to do with his ideas/dreams/plans/focus than day to day ins and outs of life. The book, so far, is very day to day in it's focus. 

 

I'm going to follow this thread.

Could you give me an example of this?  That's where my ds tends to be.  It's not so much about which pencil (though it can be) but about the ideas in his head, his plans, what he was doing that you interrupted, that kind of thing.  I mean there are some things (clothes), but they still go back to his *ideas* about what people should wear for everyday or church or whatever.

 

And yes, I've been wondering what aspect of that is self-regulation.  I haven't gotten Unstuck and On Target.  It's a shame every cool book costs $40, lol.  I'm a sloth about getting through them anyway.  I need to read more in LIPS to fine-tune how I'm doing that.  There's just always something on my ought to list, oy.  

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My son has trouble with transitions and he is often an "initial protester." 

 

It is both a behavior/compliance issue and not.  It is, in the sense that he is often required to make transitions and do things that he has initially protested. 

 

It is not in the sense that he is in any way doing something *bad.*  He is doing his best!  He is trying!  These are just hard things for him..

 

B/c my son has been doing ABA for over a year now -- behavior and compliance are very neutral words to me.  They do not have "negative" or "bad" connotations.  They just mean -- what is his action.  It doesn't give an interpretation to the action.

 

I see a *lot* of problems where people use "behavior" and "compliance" and include a moral value or judgment.  And if everyone is using them that way -- okay, that is fine.

 

If half the people are using with, and half without, that is different and a major communication barrier. 

 

So in my non-judgmental usage ----- the behavior or non-compliance can be an EXPRESSION of difficulty with transitioning or beginning a new activity (they are heavily inter-related with him -- he just has a hard time in switching gears sometimes -- but the little tricks help a great deal, so it is not a big deal, it is just part of how we do things).  So -- it is not an "either/or" situation.  They are inter-related. 

 

It comes across to me ----- that you are saying, "is this a situation where we need to treat it in this mindset of thinking he has got difficulties with flexibility that are legitimate and that we will accept and accommodate..... or is this a situation where we need to make a moral judgment for the root cause of his behavior and treat it as if it is an expression of naughtiness or inconsiderateness that is within his power to control and change." 

 

But I think that is a false choice.

 

I think in either case ----- he needs to meet the highest standards that he is able to meet.  If there is a standard he cannot meet, that is not being naughty.  If there is a standard he is capable of meeting but he is not meeting it on a given occasion ---- then I think there can be a need for a strict response.  But a strict response is not the only option. 

 

I think the option needs to be judged by *effictiveness* in changing the behavior or in teaching a skill or helping the child learn how to act or helping the child be more comfortable, or it could be holding the child to a standard the child is capable of meeting.  It could mean a lot of things. 

 

I don't think you say "well what is the moral issue" and then choose -- I think you choose from effectiveness. 

 

And I think that understanding what the needs are is what will help.

 

I think he is probably showing you his needs. 

 

That is how I look at things -- I think I am a little vague, but I just think, it is really a false choice and unnecessary to see behavior/compliance in moral terms.  And be aware -- anything you are reading with "behavioral" stuff, those words are not used that way.  They are used very neutrally.  A behavior is just a behavior -- it is just a behavior that occurred.  It isn't like "oh this behavior is so bad, this one is worse, this one means a kid is really bad" the way I think some people think.  Using those words doesn't mean "well it is time to crack down."  It just means -- well, here is a behavior, let's see what we can do that will be productive and effective to help this child have more appropriate behaviors instead of non-appropriate behaviors. 

 

I totally have this feel-good sounding kind of idea, but I am strict on many things.  There are standards my kids need to meet.  But I want to get there the best way, and often that is not the "crack down" "this looks like old-fashioned discipline" way.  Also, sometimes my kids have a standard that is lower than age-standard in some things, and higher in some things.  I try to fit my standards to what they are capable of.  I agree that higher expectations are often better, but if they are too high, that is just as bad as too low.  They need to be the standards that can be met. 

 

He is really not very rigid, though, so I don't know a lot about rigidity.  My cousin is rigid in ways like 8FillsTheHeart says.  It is like -- he does not want to accept the way things are in adult life.  Actually -- less like that now.  But I know what she means from when he was younger.  But my son is really different from cousin that way, or he is at his current age.  But he is young enough some things are not showing up yet.  He has a twin sister and a brother, and with that, it does keep him from having a rigid daily routine or a chance to get his way too often.  Any times I am tempted to, there is my son saying "no fair," and my daughter with a sad look on her face b/c I am favoring her brother over her.  So it is like -- I go through his expression of not liking not getting his way, and then it seems like it helps him to not get too set into things.  But I really think ----- b/c I remember my cousin ------ that my son is just different this way, it is maybe not my parenting or home situation.  Also his therapists have said he is not very rigid -- and in a therapy session, they are running their sessions the same way and working with kids for very long periods of time (months, years) and so I think it is fair to say -- that is a difference in the child and not the environment -- so I do think that is a "nature" thing and not just a "nurture" thing even though I think "nurture" can contribute......I deeply don't believe that this is a problem that could be prevented if "nurture" just happened differently.  But I do think that my son would be more rigid if he wasn't growing up with siblings ---- b/c I am sure I would give him his way more, b/c there would be no reason not to. 

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I've been thinking about this for a few hours now, and I'm thinking maybe I should plead the 5th?   ;)   It's a very good question though, and I'm catching something that hadn't occurred to me, that it might show up different ways in different people.  

 

This made me laugh.  It really helps to know yourself and see how you might be contributing unknowingly to the problem.  That is true for all of us.  And we all have a blind spot.  You don't have to answer the question here - just ponder it on your own. ;)

 

Can I ask a question though?  How do you as a mom, when something is happening in front of you in a young dc (10 and under say), determine if it's a rigidity/flexibility issue or a discipline/compliance issue?  How do you sort them out when the rubber meets the road and you're responsible for teaching to BOTH?

 

I usually intuitively know when something is a discipline issue or an emotional meltdown that is beyond my child's immediate control.  Fortunately, my non NT kid has always been my most compliant so these things have not been muddled.  I parent very, very intuitively, and if I am on my game, I know what my kids need and respond to what they need, not just how they behave.  A lot of years of doing therapy went into this intuitiveness, and it is not something I can easily explain or teach to someone else.  (I have tried with dh, as he tends to respond to the behavior and not what the child needs.  I don't assume that everything is a compliance or behavioral issue, though.)  I give a lot of grace when I think that a kid is struggling emotionally and the poor behavior is not a character issue or intentional disrespect.  I do not tolerate verbal disrespect, though.  It is where I draw the line.  Do not say ugly things to me or shout at me ever.  It is not okay, and I will respond to it and walk away until the child is calmer.

 

So then to explore how I *think* you could answer the question I posited on discriminating discipline vs. SN (both of which obviously should be taught for), would you say the distinguishing feature is basically a meltdown?  But then how do you discriminate a meltdown from what my dd terms a temper tantrum?  (I hate that term and wouldn't say my ds does such a thing, but it's a term my dd uses, perhaps imprecisely).    After all, these ARE still developing humans with volition and will that enters into the equation.  As dh and I talked about it, that was the question that developed.  

 

My non NT kid has meltdowns, not temper tantrums, usually.  I do differentiate between these two.  The meltdowns occur in spite of his attempts to control the overwhelming emotions.  He does not want to cry or lose control or draw attention to himself, so it is always easy to tell.  He does get angry and have difficulty controlling himself.  When he was younger, he would hit himself.   More recently, he hits the couch hard, slams materials down or stabs a marker against the whiteboard.  I always correct this behavior because no good comes from it.  It is not terribly common that he does this.

 

So how have you as mothers discriminated there and determined how to handle the thing in front of you?  

 

I hope I answered this.  It would be easier if we were sitting over coffee, you know.  :)

 

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Lecka, that was the most fascinating thing you've ever written me, and I appreciate it IMMENSELY.  That's EXACTLY what I was trying to sort out, and I think I'm going to read it about 30 times over till it sinks into my pea brain.  :)

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I didn't not know about this, but it makes sense.  So at what age do they typically shift out of this concrete perspective?  

That varies from kid to kid, but an NT kid usually begins the process of shifting from concrete to abstract thinking around 8-9 years old, I would say. It is a process.  Death is an abstract concept, and little kids in the concrete stage don't understand that death is permanent.  This is why that one of my kids at the age of five attended our hamster funeral and prayed that Digger would not die again, offending my 10 year old greatly because she was in an abstract stage and realized that the hamster was permanently gone and could not die again.  That was fun to run interference for.  Not.

 

With kids on the spectrum or close to it, it can take longer.  Sometimes a lot longer.  My non NT kid actually followed pretty typical developmental patterns in his move to abstract thinking, but he was spotty in his development rather than linear like most kids.  NT kids are more predictable in their developmental phases, IMO, than non NT kids.

 

This is the short answer since entire textbooks have been written about child development and the stages we go through as we mature from birth through adulthood.

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I love what Lecka wrote and agree with it completely.  What my son does is often beyond his control.  It is not from defiance, it is his short-circuit-y brain.   I do not place value judgments on his inability to conduct himself like the general population.  He is truly doing his best almost all of the time. His best looks different from other kids' best. 

 

ETA:  I am conscious that other people have kids with a higher degree of special needs than my kid.  My non NT kid passes in almost every situation as completely NT.   My advice may not be appropriate for all, but I can only offer something based on my own experience. 

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I will add, in ABA language, so the language a lot about autism is written in..... a behavior is "an observable action." 

 

So, greeting someone is a behavior.  Looking when your name is called is a behavior.  Copying a peer's action is a behavior. 

 

So it is really like -- behaviors are split up into behaviors we want to increase and behaviors we want to decrease. 

 

It is really a different usage than how I think it is used a lot.

 

But this is how I am hearing the word "behavior" used so often.

 

I recently spoke with someone..... to me a "behavior plan" is a good thing.  It will help my child.  It will help him have his needs met.  It will help adults know how to respond to him appropriately and how to help him learn appropriate behaviors.

 

But to the person I was talking to ---- "behavior plan" sounded like "punishment plan" like he must be getting in horrible trouble and the teachers needed lists of punishments that I had allowed (or something).  But actually his behavior plan is mostly "antecedent control procedures" which is code for -- setting things up so that he has a good chance to have appropriate behaviors, if he needs little things here and there.  That is what it is.

 

So I just had this reminder that I might be using the word "behavior" and it might not be coming across the way I am (now) very immersed in hearing it and using it, b/c it is how I always hear it now.  But I remember it being a little jarring in the past, to hear something described as "a behavior" and think "that was not a behavior!  he was doing really good just then."

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Could you give me an example of this?  That's where my ds tends to be.  It's not so much about which pencil (though it can be) but about the ideas in his head, his plans, what he was doing that you interrupted, that kind of thing.  I mean there are some things (clothes), but they still go back to his *ideas* about what people should wear for everyday or church or whatever.

 

And yes, I've been wondering what aspect of that is self-regulation.  I haven't gotten Unstuck and On Target.  It's a shame every cool book costs $40, lol.  I'm a sloth about getting through them anyway.  I need to read more in LIPS to fine-tune how I'm doing that.  There's just always something on my ought to list, oy.  

 

I'm really bad about finally buying, and then not completing these things, which makes the cost that much sadder for me! He just needs so much, it's hard to know where to put my limited energy (and funds). I very much "get" that ought to list you have going.

 

I pulled my book, and it turns out I only did 3 (of 9 I think) sections in the Unstuck book before we stopped. So we weren't at all half way. But I realized in the third section that emotional regulation was a huge part of my son's flexibly, and general, issues. So I'm working on that with Zones, then I'll see what I'm left with in terms of flexibility work. For us, I think the emotional stuff might be a huge part of the flexibility issues I do see, and was going to stand in the way of significant progress at any rate.

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I'm really bad about finally buying, and then not completing these things, which makes the cost that much sadder for me! He just needs so much, it's hard to know where to put my limited energy (and funds). I very much "get" that ought to list you have going.

 

I pulled my book, and it turns out I only did 3 (of 9 I think) sections in the Unstuck book before we stopped. So we weren't at all half way. But I realized in the third section that emotional regulation was a huge part of my son's flexibly, and general, issues. So I'm working on that with Zones, then I'll see what I'm left with in terms of flexibility work. For us, I think the emotional stuff might be a huge part of the flexibility issues I do see, and was going to stand in the way of significant progress at any rate.

What is the Zones book you are using?

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My son does some things that I think were originally part of RDI, and I have been very pleased. 

 

The therapists he sees are primarily ABA but they use anything that has a positive research base -- they just start including it into their ABA.  They include a lot that used to be from Floortime, also. 

 

I think for him, it has mostly been joint attention and mand training (making requests for things that will be naturally rewarding for the child in their environment, aka the child asks for something he wants and then gets it and that is a natural reinforcement). 

 

He is a lot younger, so that is what he has had, but I have a really good impression of RDI. 

 

There is no one where we are who is only doing RDI, though, just using parts of it that have become standard approaches for a lot of therapists (my understanding) but that come from RDI. 

 

I am excited for you guys, though!  That is so cool!  I am excited to hear how it goes!

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Do any of the above mentioned resources work with older kids? Or does anyone know of appropriate resources?

 Dd 13 has HFA and anxiety.  I need to be much more intentional about flexibility with her, especially this summer or it's going to be torture, for me especially!

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Do any of the above mentioned resources work with older kids? Or does anyone know of appropriate resources?

Dd 13 has HFA and anxiety. I need to be much more intentional about flexibility with her, especially this summer or it's going to be torture, for me especially!

I haven't read it, but the authors of Unstuck and On Target came out with a more general book on teaching flexibility called Solving Executive Function Challenges. I am thinking it maybe one that would be easier to just take ideas from and adapt it for your use.

 

ETA: tried to link, but wasn't having any luck from the iPad.

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Thanks, Jennifer.  I will give that one a try.  I have other EF books but in some  ways they just don't seem to apply to her situation. If anyone else has any suggestions, I look  forward to trying some new things.

 

OhElizabeth, thanks for sharing your friend's advice.  Some very wise ideas there as well and from others posting on this subject here.  I will definitely print that one out!

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