Archive for March, 2013

The Integrative Approach to Autism part 21: When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Mar 27 2013 Published by under ASD,Asperger's,Autism,Highly Sensitive Person,HSP

This post continues the 3-Step Integrative Approach to Autism series. Today Part 21: BEHAVIORAL Requirements for Growth: When Things Don’t Go Your Way

What If Things Don’t Go Our Way?

Many sensitive children have difficulty seeing the needs of others and consequently tend to focus exclusively on their own needs. In addition, many sensitive children are deeply aware of their emotional needs and the deprivation they feel that letting them have their way is the least their immediate environment can do to compensate for that emotional void.

Regarding the first possibility, many sensitive children lag behind in learning that in addition to their own perspective, there are other perspectives viewed by others. For example, a couple has two children, one eight years of age and sensitive and one six years of age and less sensitive. The younger one develops pneumonia and has to stay in a hospital for four days until she recovers. When she is back home, the parents decide to cheer her up by sharing some of her older brother’s toys with her. The older brother has been dealing with his parents’ near complete absence for a few days, which is not easy for him. On top of that, now he has to share his toys. The situation becomes inflamed and the older sibling fights to get his toys back, crying and screaming. In this situation, he fights because cannot see the urgent need of his little sister and the health problem she has been through. He is only thinking of himself and his current troubles. The mother takes nothing for granted. She gives him his toys back temporarily and takes him to his room where she explains that his sick sister is in urgent need of cheering up. She explains how she is in pain and relates her situation to when he got sick. She explains the special attention that was given to him during his difficult time, and is now being offered to his sister. The mother’s reassuring words are logical and just. The older sibling feels better and sets out on a mission to make his little sister feel better. He comes out of his room dragging a big bag of toys to his sister’s room. He goes in and offers her the toys, guiding her through what each does and how to best play with it.

This is obviously a happy example, yet things are not always that easy. Teaching perspective to sensitive children often cannot happen through passive transfer of information. Teaching perspective relies on the parents, always asking their sensitive child to consider other possibilities for events. Sensitive children often have rigid ideas about why and how something happens. The role of the parent is to always ask, “What other possibilities could have led to this outcome?” In addition, the parent could guide the child in the direction where she could find these possibilities.

It has been said that a boy does not become a man until he finds joy in helping someone else other than himself. Similarly, a girl does not become a woman until she finds joy in helping someone else other than herself. Yet, the time to go through this process is during childhood. During teenage and adult years, someone who fails to see the perspective of others will have a tough time navigating educational, personal, social and professional endeavors.

Regarding the second possibility, many sensitive children feel entitled to fulfill the lack of emotional attention to her or understanding of her through receiving material, personal or emotional help from her immediate environment. This is a fairly more complicated issue since it touches on the relationship between the child and her parents as a whole. The stubbornness and self-absorption many sensitive children show growing up should be a signal to parents to re-examine their relationship with their child. They need to look for bonding problems that may have created mistrust and/or resentment on the side of the child. It is never too late to try to re-establish the parent-child bond. All it takes is going back to the basics and showing consistency in treating and handling your child for a while. Consistency should always be done with a positive attitude. Forget about structure and discipline for while as you go back and nurture your child through hugs, understanding, acceptance and/or encouragement ‘always in a consistent way’. This might take a lot of effort and might not receive any immediate reaction from the child, but keep at it until you re-enter your child’s heart. This could have immeasurable long-term rewards to the parent and could be socially empowering in the child’s life.

Rami Serhan, MD
Author, Psyche-Smart Autism; Integrative Medicine Consultant
(206) 659-1ASD (273)
Email
Psyche-Smart Autism book
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Autism Screening
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The Integrative Approach to Autism part 20: Dealing with Uniformity

Mar 07 2013 Published by under ASD,Asperger's,Autism,Highly Sensitive Person,HSP

This post continues the 3-Step Integrative Approach to Autism series. Today Part 20: BEHAVIORAL Requirements for Growth: Dealing with Uniformity

Lack of Conformity to Uniformity:

Autistic and sensitive people at large are notorious for their originality. It is very difficult for them to take a socially glorified rule at face value and apply it in their lives. They have to re-think all social rules and traditions and study them first hand and come up with their own version of behavior. This could be a source of great distress to parents, teachers, acquaintances and partners. On the other hand, when a sensitive person tries to conform with society’s rules and demands, they invariably feel miserable. If one does not recognize the necessity to shed tradition in favor of original thinking, they may end up with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. It is very important to teach your sensitive child that she does not have to do anything she is not comfortable doing. She does not have to sit with her legs crossed if it is going to make her uncomfortable and irritable. She does not have to learn to entertain guests if she does not like that. There is nothing wrong with a girl who never wants to wear a skirt or wants to dye her hair black and wear black clothing every day if this is what keeps her comfortable. Other people will have to adjust to her preferences for a change. These are simple examples of sensitive children growing up to develop an individualized sense of preferences that many times may not look anything like any other child within a ten-mile radius. These are changes your child is taking to feel comfortable enough in order to be able to mix and socialize. Your child is not trying to make a statement as much as she is trying to get her mood even, assert her individuality and take away the anxiety of conformity to uniformity. An understanding parent would encourage his growing sensitive child to customize her life according to her preferences and would not impose on her any of the glorified social customs. This attitude of the parents can be a huge part of promoting their child’s development and preparation for a life more socially fulfilling. I hope that we will reach a day when the child who has her own ways of going about her life will not be singled out, bullied, or made to feel different. Tolerance will trickle into society of sensitive people’s lifestyle, but it will absolutely have to begin in the family.

Rami Serhan, MD
Author, Psyche-Smart Autism; Integrative Medicine Consultant
(206) 659-1ASD (273)
Email
Psyche-Smart Autism book
Youtube Channel
Autism Screening
Google Profile

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The Integrative Approach to Autism part 19: First Impressions

Mar 04 2013 Published by under ASD,Asperger's,Autism,Highly Sensitive Person,HSP

This post continues the 3-Step Integrative Approach to Autism series. Today Part 19: BEHAVIORAL Requirements for Growth: First Impressions

First Impressions:

There is nothing about this phrase that the average sensitive person can identify with or care for. This system of first impressions done after a few minutes when two strangers meet is prevalent across the world. However, it is solely for the benefit of insensitive people meeting each other on a generic basis. Once two insensitive people go through this brisk introductions process, they quickly realize that they have nearly identical personalities. From that point on, the relationship thrives or fades based on physical and economic attributes in addition to achievements. They do not need any time discovering the other’s personality since as far as they are concerned there is only one personality, that of a “well-adjusted” person. This whole system in not applicable to sensitive people who may need days or weeks to broadly examine the personality of someone they meet. You can see how your growing sensitive child is at a disadvantage in socializing with 80% of the children they will meet. Unfortunately, many sensitive adults are forced to learn the system of first impressions as a survival mechanism. It is a very painful and lengthy process. It took Jerry Newport, author of Mozart & the Whale, over a decade to perfect the process of talking to strangers at an even keel. There is no magic to socializing the mainstream way. It takes trying over and over until one can perfect it. The difference prohibiting sensitive people from making an instant connection with a stranger is our thorough and more logical processing of input. This type of processing slows down the reaction time, and the intelligent answers take a longer time to appear. By that time, the insensitive person has already lost interest or called us names and moved on. However, with constant trying most of us are able to cut down on the processing time and to achieve the acute mindfulness necessary to give timely intelligent answers to remarks thrown our way by strangers. Trying over and over allows the person to gradually learn to screen out the irrelevant stimulants in the environment and focus only on the person they are communicating with. Well, it is a little more complicated than just trying again and again. On many occasions, the rejection can be cruel and hurtful and many of us stop trying consequently. Attempting to contact strangers requires a support system, which can undo the hurt of rejection including family, friends and an enlightened therapist. Family and friends can provide the safety and comfort necessary to wash out the hurt. They can also provide the encouragement and the conducive atmosphere in which the sensitive person can muster the will to repeat the attempt at the risk of suffering the cruelty of an intolerant insensitive person. Once the barrier of fear due to past experiences is gotten over, then it is only a matter of time before we can master their system. Hopefully, one day we will collectively reach a point where both systems of socializing become equally accepted and equally practiced. Today, the pressure is on us to adapt to the mainstream way of socializing if we wish to be part of the mainstream social establishment. Maybe one day we will have a choice of adopting their way or going about it our way without being erroneously considered rejects or defective beings.

Rami Serhan, MD
Author, Psyche-Smart Autism; Integrative Medicine Consultant
(206) 659-1ASD (273)
Email
Psyche-Smart Autism book
Youtube Channel
Autism Screening
Google Profile

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The Integrative Approach to Autism part 18: Embracing Failure

Mar 01 2013 Published by under ASD,Asperger's,Autism,Highly Sensitive Person,HSP

This post continues the 3-Step Integrative Approach to Autism series. Today Part 18: BEHAVIORAL Requirements for Growth: Embracing Failure

Encouraging and Embracing Failure:

We live in a society today that glorifies success so much and stomps over failure so harshly. No one wants to acknowledge how success is achieved. People like to believe that life is a smooth ride and that success is in “the gene pool”. I would love to tell you this is true and life is a bed of roses but reality prevents me. Life is a series of failures interrupted by the occasional success, save maybe for Bill Gates and the trust-fund babies. Any reasonably successful person will acknowledge this reality. The world today consists of two types of people: those who can learn from failure and those who can’t. The point is, insensitive people making every second count rarely stop and reflect on their life in order to learn from their mistakes and failures. On the other hand, sensitive people spend their whole life reflecting on and processing their failures in order to find a way to success. Embrace failure in your child and cherish it. Allow your child to celebrate failure and work with him or her on processing each failure so they can shorten their learning curve, go out, and succeed. The alternative is to frown upon failure. For a sensitive child this fuels avoidance and leads to withdrawal. Many sensitive people stop trying to succeed because they get convinced by their parents and surroundings that they “are failures”. This could be triggered only by a handful of minor setbacks early in life. However, it can easily ruin someone for good. This is how low self-esteem gets started. This is also how the destructive mentality of “I don’t deserve to succeed” gets started, too.

Rami Serhan, MD
Author, Psyche-Smart Autism; Integrative Medicine Consultant
(206) 659-1ASD (273)
Email
Psyche-Smart Autism book
Integrative Autism Blog
Youtube Channel
Autism Screening
Google Profile

No responses yet

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