RDI training continues…Loss of Resilience!

How many of you out there have done this training already?  Please encourage me to persist!!  hahaha!

Seriously though, this week we learned about the Breakdown of the Guided Participation Relationship between the parent and the child.  I just want all of you to know how fascinating this is to me.  All behaviors in the/my child are the direct result of the loss of resilience.  …(this is key here!!!)

Here is the definition from the dictionary…

Resilience: 1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

(Sounds like me and Sam at the mall 2 saturdays before Christmas of 98–a tantrum that has been written down in history!  I sill remember the stares from the other mothers who could control their children!)

Basically, as parents, we are responsible for developing resilience in our children by ” stressing” them with new situations as a part of growing up.  But, we can not stress our child too far, just far enough to learn, then give them a safe place to escape back to.  If we push too far and too fast, we get a meltdown.  All children learn by this relationship between parent and child.  You see, the alternating between STRESS and SAFETY builds resilience in your child.  They no longer have to fear change because they KNOW that they can survive or “adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

In the child with ASD, this relationship tends to breaks down early because the slightest stress will trigger a meltdown.  The child will “escape” the stressful situation by averting his eyes, rocking, or other stim.  The child, then, is fearful to try anything new in order to reduce stress.  Any input from a parent my be stressful at this point and the child may “cut out” or limit contact with us.   All this leads to no interactive learning and no Dynamic Intelligence being developed.  This leads to underdevelopment of the brain in certain areas which is termed Neuronal Underconnectivity!  Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

Neuronal Underconnectivity on the brain level equals poor resilience on the social level.  This leads to dependence on Static Intelligence such as learning words, scripting actions or conversations, forcing eye contact at certain times etc…  So, the child has a hard time putting all these bits of static knowledge together when faced with a new situation.  If a new situation occurs, then the child gets stressed, which leads to rocking, stimming, humming, biting fingernails, or possibly a full fledged meltdown!

The bottom line is this: Restore the parent-child guided relationship, and navigate through a series of stress-coping real life situations and voila!  …resilience is restored to your child who can now navigate alone through life’s unknown turmoil…Maybe have a friend, or drive a car, hold a job, go to college, or gasp…even get married!  The end goal is to make your child be the best that he/she can be, what ever level of functioning that is.

The end goal sounds delightful, but you and I know that there is a lot of work required to restore resilience.  I will tell you this…Shoot for the stars!  If you only land on the Moon, it is still better than where you started!

Ever the Optimist,

Your Dr. GF

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