Which comes first - Right brain or left brain ?

This has been something on my mind since our last week at Pace Place. The power of right brain (Revolution, inspiration etc etc) versus the left brain (evolution, perspiration etc etc)...

It is quite known that kids in the spectrum have quite a bit of "rules" that governs their day to day life - that kind of shows up as inflexibility and lack of willingness to change and adherence to the sameness. Although DS has made great progress around flexibility over last year; however, there are some few places where he is still inflexible and would not want to change. That stems from a certain of set of rules that he has in his mind. So, we always think these kids are highly logical and analytical and are primarily left brained !

However, there was always an hole in this theory... Because we have seen DS to be highly perceptive; and we have seen that our emotional highs/lows do impact some of DS' thinking and his own moods. Particularly, that of his, DM's. And stepping back, we have found that most of his rules comes from situational incidents that happened at that time.

This was around in our thinking and more so, since we came back from Pace Place. And today morning, something happened that kind of made the light bulb go on for me. DS was typing an email to his grand-parents; and DW was behind him, guiding him. When DS made an error, instead of moving the cursor back to where the error was, he started hitting the back-space, that started erasing all that he had typed. DW who was behind him, seeing him hit back-space, reacted (as is wont with any one), with a bit in higher decibel, that he'd lose all that he had typed. DS who heard it (but wasn't seeing his mom), reacted to the voice (probably, a bit startled at the decibel) with an impromptu "rule" - said he'd start afresh and erased all that he had typed, even beyond the error... Post-that, DW did try and get to the mode in describing the mistake as "small-mistake" (vs medium vs large)... But by that time, DS had "rule" in place...

This actually made me think. In the incident above, it looks like an emotional response has led to the logical action. The first emotion (from his mom) was something he wasn't able to handle; His emotional regulation got him to the comfort zone; that was to have a "logical rule" to that emotion; discard/disown and put a distance between himself and the actions/surroundings that had led to that emotion. And there, birth of the rule.

So, is the spectrum primarily right brained (or inability to handle emotions stemming from right brain) or left brained ? [rhetorical question, btw :-) ]

So from our own perspective, it is clear that we need to do couple of things:
  • Meet the eye when talking to the DS; and touch is very important for that emotional equilibrium.
  • Get the positive emotion first, before explaining the logic behind
The other key observation for me was this - the crucial conversations had to happen with him, face to face, with some kind of touch involved. Any conversation with him, sitting side-ways or across rooms aren't going to help and becomes counter-productive. Thinking about it, this is where the RDI principle of "referencing' could really help...

Easier said than done !! :-)

At a Fast Pace !

Based on a friend's recommendation and talking to another parent who had been through this, we decided to go for the Immersion experience at the PACE Place. [Leave a comment to this blog post with your email id if you need more information on it].

It was a great experience. DW feels very happy about the experience and its as if all the pieces of puzzles are falling in place for her. I'm (DD) more intrigued and I'm in between Storming and Norming phase of Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing phase. I have intellectually understood the concept and have internalized some of them. Its now to get back and do it and make it part of our lives. In any case, our experience has been great and of course, very tiring on all of us. We took some of the challenges with DS head-on (those non-negotiable inflexibility he had). He seems to have come through it. Now the key part of it, is to take that experience and encode it in a way, it becomes repeatable for him. I believe we have some tools for it.

Here is the my list of 13 ! (a bit disparate, but its my list !! :-) )

1. Appeal to the emotional/feeling side before you go the thinking/logical side.
I kind of equated Feeling/thinking ~= Revolutionary/Evolutionary.
Revolutionary changes are quantum leap, where as evolutionary are incremental.
A strong Emotion always trumps thinking.
Do this in the envelope of Bigger-Stronger-Wiser-Kinder

2. Touch, Touch, Touch,
Use Touch to convey emotions/feelings. Silently.
Engage touch while talking.
Disengage touch to communicate disapproval.

3. Anger, Bossy, Irritation (on the DS) countered by higher +ve emotion - push envelope to seek help
(DS base emotion -> safety, fear; ask him to ask questions)

4. Have purposeful motion.
Create obstacles and going around them and create need for purposeful motion (vs Ruminating Emotion)

5. Be conscious of Frequency - Duration - Intensity of any reaction

6. The quantum thing - about preparation and post-summary - Small, Medium, Large (Silliness, anxiety, worry, fun) - The transition between pre and post is the experience. Encode it

7 Use -10 to 0 to +10 to grade silliness, anxiety, worry, fun etc. Do prediction before the event and assess after the event. The difference is again the experience. Through this, look to build anticipation. Anticipation will trump anxiety, which will trump DS's own rules

8. "ASK ME"

9. When throwing a tantrum - "Go to your room" - No anger on our faces - done w/smile (BWSK), as we (DD/DM) continue talking. If 'go to your room' needs to be backed up by a physical push, DD should do it.
Safety is the key" ; can push the envelope up to that point, unless feel safety is threatened
"Ask me 'am i calm'" ?
Hold on to higher positive emotion. Its ok to add edge to the voice.

10. Map the -10 to 0 to +10 scale to Threat (Danger) to Reward (Interest) scale. The key again is the experience. The Fun and the anxiety lines in the graph cross over somewhere during the experience

11. Hand on shoulder or start stop speech to get attention. Eyes follow where the hand goes

12. Baby Brain (makes rules, worries, ruminates, avoids, reacts by being bossy or whiny) Vs Big Kid Brain ( Regulates, organizes, makes sense, deals with the moment)

13. Connector Rx

Here we go - that is my 13 encodes. Now, onward we go !!!

ps: I believe that Eric, Kathi and Steve are perfect complement of each other - this is where the whole was much greater than the sum of the parts...