"My approach to intervention is rooted in respect for child development and focuses on making the mundane meaningful, looking at daily interactions as opportunities for learning and growth while respecting the uniqueness of the individual and family. It’s about setting high expectations for long term quality of life and relationships for individuals on the spectrum and implementing a specific and doable plan to get there one step at a time.”
– Lauren Wilson, LCSW, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Science of Tantrums

This is quite an interesting 8 minute program on the Science of Tantrums.

The Science of Tantrums

These researchers have identified a pattern that many tantrums follow, from anger to sadness and a whole journey in between.

Some of the recommendations are sound- no sense in attempting to argue or provide rational answers to an irrational child who is screaming their head off.  After all.. could you process what someone was telling you if you were in that state?  Of course not.  Ride it out with silence or short simple phrases or actions.

The last bit of advice they provide is when those all encompassing tantrums begin sucking you in to your own tantrum of frustration consider taking a step back and observing.  After all sometimes the best we can do is nothing while learning what to do later.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quotable Sundays: Dr. Suess

And I'd like to think the same can be said of the person who speaks. :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quotable Sundays: Thanksgiving

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment - halftime.  ~Author Unknown  :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spotlight the Problem not the Solution Published on Forging New Pathways Blog!

What a great honor!  I have been so moved by the comments from folks.  I'm so thankful that the article has been helpful for people.  I have learned so much from so many it feels wonderful to be able to do something small to give back!

If you haven't already bookmarked the blog you might consider it.  The topics are varied and so interesting! :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quotable Sundays: Winnie the Pooh

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.

"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."” 

- Winnie The Pooh

I tell ya, that Winnie the Pooh has some good ones.  

I remember reading a few studies on individuals with autism and stress levels.  As you can imagine, they found individuals living day to day with unimaginable amounts of stress hormones in the system (cortisol).  Of course this comes as no surprise.  It's a normal physiological reaction to massive amounts of unproductive uncertainty.  It can and does happen to all of us- at small doses.  The level and amount that individuals on the spectrum found themselves at that heightened level... oy.

When I read this quote those studies popped in my mind... what really stuck however... was the experiences families have had reducing that stress by stressing quality over quantity of everything.  And from this change of focus and priority comes a change in relationships.  From a child withdrawing more to one turning in.  One who finds safety among others.  Who reaches out for comfort.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Practical Ideas

This was shared with me and I have to say I was pretty impressed.  Some of the recommendations left me scratching my head, however, what a great place to start and get some fresh ideas to modify for your particular child or student.  Recreating the wheel is exhausting,  finding folks who have already done some of the work is a huge time saver.

Concerns and A Smogusborg of Interventions

You'll notice on the homepage there is a Jeopardy board of concerns, click on one and it will open up to a list of interventions to try.  Click on those and it will give you some specific examples.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quotable Sundays: Winnie The Pooh

“If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
- Winnie the Pooh

Ah the wise words of Winnie the Pooh.  This quote reminded me of the profound patience and faith we use when we commit to using experience sharing/declarative communication.  At the beginning oh how it can feel like you are talking to walls! As if there is fluff in your partners ears. 

And then slowly and sometimes without warning those seeds that you've have planted with commenting and silence begin to bud.

It never ceases to amaze me.  Declarative communication is powerful.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quotable Sundays

"We are not going to sweep away all the support, but we are going to dismantle it piece by piece as we transfer the competence and responsibility to the child."

Helen O'Callaghan

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fixed & Growth Mindsets

I've long been an avid reader of Carol Dweck's research.  I see how nicely her ideas dovetail with remediation programs.  It has certainly been my experience than a measurable shift takes place in an individual with autism's program when we begin to see that shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.

Some of my favorite research of hers has been on Praise and Motivation.  The first article I read about this was here, The Power (and Peril) or Praising Your Kids.  The following is a video that also summarizes the research (though I have to say, I like the article a better).

Quotable Sundays

“Those who know how to think need no teachers.” - Ghandi

It's amazing when we see a child discover a new way of thinking or seeing the world.  They have ownership over it and need little to no direction.  This discovery of a thought process (the why bother) is so much different than the discovery of a skill outside of thought.  Without the thought and context behind a discovery you are always in need of a teacher to remind you to use the skill.  This may be sufficient for the short term... long term though, my do we want to see thinkers!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogs I Follow

On the left hand side you'll notice that there are a few blogs that I follow.  I think one of the most wonderful things about the internet, is the ease in which we can now connect with networks of support.  Recently, one of my most favorite blogs shared a particularly moving post from a guest author.

The story and video are moving.
Ely and Mum Laura

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forging New Pathways Blog

This blog is guest authored about once a week by a host of RDI Program Certified Consultants and parents.

This week's blog had a few helpful and practical tips.

Give it a look see, Building Pathways Through RDI

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quotable Sundays

Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.
M. Scott Peck

And to this I must add, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

One step at a time, always.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spotlight the Problem not the Solution

Being an effective guide is 95% mindset and 5% what you actually do.  Our mindset and point of view are the roots from which all decisions are made.  When I’m given a mere hour or half day to try to explain in a meaningful and practical way what RDI is, I focus on a simple phrase that encompasses a guiding mindset.

Spotlight the Problem, Not the Solution

            Guides recognize that learning, and from there competence, comes with doing.  It comes with struggling, thinking, failing and succeeding.  Guides recognize their ability to make the most of regular ole’ interactions when they focus on spotlighting problems rather than solutions.

            Bear with me during this illustration.  Consider the following two phrases.  Imagine them being said to you.

            “Pick it up and put it here.”
            “This is hard to figure out!”

            This is kind of hokey, but literally feel your brain working as each is said.  “Pick it up and put it here.”  What’s your brain doing?  Right, not too much; it’s pretty much basic compliance.  A great skill to have no doubt, yet as a guide we know how limiting this can be for real world application.

            How about the latter?  “This is hard to figure out!”  What’s your noggin’ doing now?  It’s really trying to work something out.  It’s refocusing on the problem, slowing down.  It’s doing some dynamic thinking.

            Consider the relationship that would grow out of the two phrases.  One could perhaps be characterized by a director and actor, ever in need of direction.  The other guiding.

Here are a few more examples.  Notice how the focus changes from the solution to the problem and the effect it has on the relationship and what learning and opportunities will happen next.

“Say Hi Daddy”
“There’s Daddy!”
“Pick it up.”
“Oh no!”
“Sit down.”
“Circle time.”
“Try again.”
“This is just not working.”
“Good job!”
“We’re doing it!”

            Providing solutions rob individuals of the chance to make those dynamic problem solving connections that we so want them to have.  Providing solutions can also give a false sense of the true abilities of an individual. 

            No where was this more evident to me than during an observation of a first grader.  It was reported to me that he could independently manage classroom routines and a paraprofessional was probably no longer necessary.  In a 3 minute period of my observation I counted how many solutions he was given.  I could barely keep up with the tallies.  In three minutes he was given over 40 solutions.  “Write your name.” “Erase, you need capitals.” “Push in your chair.” “Go to carpet.”  “Cross your legs.” “Raise your hand.” And on and on and on.  Many were given within a second of other children performing the action and often repeated more than once.  I cringe just remembering, and acknowledging that I was once that solution focused voice on quick repeat.

            I offered the paraprofessional a much needed break and sat back and truly observed.  The class moved along and he sat falling farther and farther behind.  He had no ownership over any of the learning that had been taking place.  He had been complying on auto pilot failing to take note of his role in his own actions.  Solutions had been given and therefore his dynamic problem solving abilities remained stagnant.

Spotlight the problem, not the solution.”

            After modeling, practice, adjusting work load and figuring out what his unique processing time was, we put this mindset into practice.  The goal was no longer for him move along, it was to see his wheels turning; to see him practice dynamic thinking.  And think he did. 

            This change in mindset is big and it is hard to do.  When we see someone struggling for a solution our mirror neurons (http://video.pbs.org/video/1615173073) fire rapidly.  We literally feel them struggling and are pulled to relieve that tension by providing a solution.  And then, seemingly overnight it becomes an automatic response.  Before we know it we’re anticipating the problem and providing the solution before the child even recognizes it.  We become the solution managers instead of the opportunity givers, decreasing rather than increasing our child’s ability to function in the world.  We wind up doing all the dynamic thinking work for our children who need the most practice at it.

            We know that change in possible, and it starts with us, the guides providing an environment where dynamic thinking can thrive.  Start by taking time to do… well, nothing.  Slow down.  Observe your child, you’re looking for their edge of competence and that’s a moving target.  What I find most often is that folks are surprised by what problems their child can solve on their own.  What competence building moments for our children!    

            Opportunities (problems) will start to arise.  Shoes will be lost.  Zippers will get stuck.  Play ideas will make one person happy and not the other.  Your turn will be skipped.  As you slow down you’ll see your child resolve many of them leaving you an opportunity to spotlight their competence.  Others will loom larger and you’ll see the solution and want to blurt it out immediately. 

Hold that thought. 

It’s in this moment that your child needs you to guide them.  To scaffold, what you see so clearly.  Clarify theproblem” for them; guide them in the right direction.  You might have to do this more than once.  That’s ok.  What’s important is you leave that room, no matter how small, for your child to discover the solution.  And who knows, it might be better than the one you had in mind! J

Spotlight the problem, not the solution.”

Here are a few more examples to consider
Child takes your turn while playing         
Give “the look” and smile
It is taking longer than expected and you can see it on your child’s face
“This is taking a loooong time!”
Shoes are lost.
“I forget where we found them last time.”
There are 2 cookies and three people.
“Hrmm, this is a problem.”
Child looks hungry.
“I think we skipped snack today.”
Look forward to hearing your examples and experiences.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quotable Sundays

"If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." ~Lawrence J. Peter

And that's not always a bad thing, unless you're out of milk.

It can be a difficult balance to know when to hold tight to our original plan of an activity and when to let go and see where you will end up. My best advice, give them both a try. Having always and never rules never always work. ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is RDI?

This is a common question, and even after five years of being certified in the program, I have to admit I sometimes struggle to fit into a concise sentence, because on the one hand, it is so very very simple and on the other so very difficult.

What is RDI?  Applying typical development to kiddos for whom this has been a challenge.  

RDI Parents are often pleasantly surprised to find that there are no secret strategies to employ.  It's all the things parents are naturally amazing at, reading their child, providing safe challenging opportunities for growth, spotlighting memories and transferring wisdom.  The trick is doing all these amazing things at a slow, deliberate and individualized pace for their child on the spectrum.

It also seems most helpful to be able to "see" RDI.  Amy Cameron and a wonderful family of hers have provided a window into the world of an RDI family.

A quick search of RDI on youtube has many more examples by brave families who have put their learning out there for others to see.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What is Episodic Memory?

This *is* episodic memory, and quite a funny example of it.

Notice how emotion is tied in with the description of this memory, and the usefulness of how this young boy has embedded the memory.  The next time he is faced with a challenge, you can bet this memory will be used to remind him of his prior successes.

There has been a wonderful four part blog on Episodic Memory from a fellow RDI Consultant.  Episodic Memory and Children with ASD.  She does a beautiful job of breaking down a rather complex concept into easily understandable and transferable ideas.  These make for great sharing with friends, family and school team members.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quotable Sundays

 “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

Another favorite.  If we spend out days looking for the elusive peace or perfection we will run ourselves ragged.  The truth of the matter is that we can always find it, because in the midst of all the nuttiness that sometimes can take over a day there is our ability to embrace it for what it is and say "aaahhh" and when needed, remind ourselves that "this too shall pass."

Have a great and "peaceful" week! 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Children with autism and siblings share brain 'signature' — SFARI

"Children who have autism and their healthy siblings share patterns of brain activity that are different than those seen in children with no family history of the disorder, according to unpublished research presented Thursday at the IMFAR 2010 conference in Philadelphia."

Children with autism and siblings share brain 'signature' — SFARI

The Social Brain and ASD

New research from Ami Klin

The Social Brain and ASD

"The discovery of distinctive brain activity patterns for individuals with ASDs and their siblings has great potential to advance autism research and clinical practice. By looking at the functioning of socially- activated regions of the brain, we may be able to tell who does and does not have ASD. We may also be able to tell who seems fine but carries (and perhaps overcame) genetic risk for ASD. There may come a time when a diagnosis of ASD -- and even a measure of its severity -- is based not just on observation of external behavior but on this "neural signature." In addition, new treatments focused on social deficits may intentionally target activation of crucial brain regions, while the effectiveness of older treatments might be measured by how activation of the social brain changes over time."

 It has certainly been my experience that as children on the spectrum are given the opportunity to make those important neural connections make true progress in remediation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Transitioning to Adulthood

I've been so thankful to see in the last few years more attention be paid to the transition to adulthood for individuals on the spectrum.

Recently the New York Times published a piece on the subject.  The video included in the story is a bittersweet look at the progress we have made as a community and the road we still have to travel.

Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quotable Sundays

"Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve." 
-Roger Lewin

This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes of late.  While having a few answers is nice, it's the ability to problem solve in the face of uncertainty that gets us where we want to go.

This week I encourage us all to put some problems at our child's feet.  The competence they gain from working through one is learning that lasts a lifetime.

Daily "Problems" (read opportunities for learning!)
-Allowing disagreements
-Allowing things to stay lost a little longer (Moms, I know you actually know where everything is!)
-Turning off the GPS
-Missing chairs
-Deciding what to wear
-Deciding who goes first

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Intersubjectivity and Mirror Neurons

It's long, 54minutes, but very interesting.

Survey Participants Needed


A doctoral candidate on the Big Island is looking for research participants.

Here is a bit about the study:

Research Purpose

Understanding the effects of advocacy training on the perceived self-efficacy and parental stress in parents of children diagnosed with autism could provide compelling evidence that parents need advocacy training to protect their mental health.  Healthy parents promote a healthy family system that benefits all children.  Such a link may also provide evidence for the need to make advocacy training more accessible for parents who are new to caring for their child diagnosed with autism.  This study was expected to provide valuable information for parents of children diagnosed with autism as well as those involved in providing assistance and training for these parents.  If the study found a decrease in parental stress and an increase in perceived self-efficacy in parents of children diagnosed with autism who participated in Wrightslaw Advocacy Training (WLAT), it could measure the benefits of such advocacy training programs.  

Perceived self-efficacy is the belief in one’s personal abilities to complete a task.  It is more concerned with the judgment of how well one can perform rather than how well one actually performs.  

Find out more or particpate here:  http://www.autismparentresearch.com/index.html

Friday, September 9, 2011

Autism Remediation for Our Children

This was recently re-brought to my attention.  It is a wonderful and very active yahoo group about remediation and autism.

Join here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Visuals Visuals Visuals

Where would we be without visuals?  My most difficult days are often the ones where I have forgotten to bring my planner, the adult version of a visual support.

Visuals can take some of the anxiety out of every day situations allowing our kids to be more available for dynamic thinking.

I recently came across this site that has many pre-made visual supports and simple video clips explaining possible uses for each.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Failure the Opposite of Success?

"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear." 
-Edmond Burke. 

I think not.  I like to think that failure are the bumps we face on the way to success.  We only truly fail if we stop at those bumps and refuse to move forward.

I think we've all looked fear in the face and felt frozen.  And yet, if we take a moment to re-frame that fear, often of failure, we find the opportunity to make great things happen.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nobody Asked You

Taking "Spotlight the Problem, Not the Solution" to the next level.

Nobody Asked You

Thank you Susan for drawing my attention to this wonderful article!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Brain Bugs


Fascinating and easy to understand look at how the brain works & creates (and changes) memories.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ross Greene: Collaborative Problem Solving

A wonderful resource from Dr. Ross Greene. There are many clips in the series that can be viewed on youtube or www.livesinthebalance.org