How can a child:parent or student:teacher have a mutual agreement for respecting each other’s choices? What if distractions feel real a person, and they’re being stopped to deal with it?
Did professionals label it ADHD, ADD, ASD, OCD, ODD, and any other conduct disorder pertaining to distractibility? I challenge the notion of what a distraction is, and why it isn’t disordered.
Brainosaurus is an interesting result of an encounter that I had in a session today. We have a teenage student who is really ridiculously gifted. Perfect Pitch script, memorized photographically from every video and YouTube ever seen, and all characters voices being imitated perfectly.
So, he has an elaborate library in his mind. Such a person has the ability to catalog and take inventory of comparisons without choosing. We were having a conversation today and there was an announcement that those were wild turkeys, or flying turkeys, and I paused because it was being dismissed in the moment by the caregiver, because it wasn’t recognized for what it was. So we paused to say what about the flying turkeys.
What we found out was that he is sitting across the window of the house, and in a nanosecond, a bird flew by, and his brain was able to catalog it. He later said that he was comparing and contrasting by size, and wingspan. I said, “why isn’t it Canadian geese?” He said, “because Canadian geese are smaller, and well, it’s a turkey because turkeys have a wider, bigger wings than Birds”.
So there I had my answer. He’s doing these quick analyses of this environment and we don’t get to decide whether we silence that or whether we tell him to not pay attention. Because he has those gifts, we incorporated this into a tool. First we say or inquire on whether the distraction of the bird flying through the window or if the distraction of the turkey was something that was his choice. Did he want that extra information in his brain or did it come into his brain without choosing?
He said it was not a choice. When it’s not a choice, we know that it is a real occurrence in the brain. If you hook a person up to an fMRI, the visual cortex in the brain would light up just like a person who’s having a hallucination. It’s real too.
It’s only real to them because it’s real on the tools we measure to check for reality. As long as Neuroscience refers to brain Imaging to say ‘that’s how we know if it’s real or not,’ then we have a right to assume that a distraction of ‘oh my goodness, she’s playing in this key or “Oh, that’s the same key as whatever.”
That’s not a distraction. It’s a legitimate experience given a stimuli that was just provided. I gave him these sounds, or the musical notation had something in D Major and his brain catalog right away. Where else he’s heard that before? That’s a power tool and it’s a gift that we don’t want to suppress because then, it turns into oppression.
Today we talked about a hypothetical arrangement during geometry homework. We talked about first identifying all of these distractions, giving it credence, putting it on a pedestal and saying “it’s coming out of your mouth.
These noises, sounds you’re tackling, dinosaurs you’re slaying, and your re-enacting Jurassic Park, that’s fine.” Then, establishing clearly that it’s in the middle of geometry homework. Therefore we have to give it a name. So first we start with asking whose voice are you making?
Oh, it’s Al from x. okay.
Is it Al from a movie, or Al from a YouTube?
So it’s Al from the “manners” YouTube. He’s doing imitation. Okay.
Now we have sorted out that it’s a character. We never call this scripting, which is a stereotype about stimming that is seen as a sign of not listening, not paying attention, or ignoring others.
We know that it’s a character, and we know that it’s a voice, and it’s being re-enacted and it’s happening at the same time that the expectation is to have this class, this homework, this assignment.
Slay or Get Slayed
One of the things we did was thinking about going into a karate class. So tomorrow you’re going to start karate. We’re going to take you to the class and the teacher is giving an instruction. The teacher says, “everyone, put your arm up in defense position.” And if you don’t lift your arm, we don’t want to call it ‘not paying attention’, but if you have distractions or you’re looking at everybody and you’re like “wow, that’s like the scene from Karate Kid…Well, they’re all wearing the same white, and well, those belts are different colors.” So those observations are legitimate.
They’re valid. They are also taking over your brain and you have a choice to say oh am I going to slay or play with those, or am I going to slay those? What are the consequences of playing with them? If you play with your distractions, which is perfectly fine legal, go for it. Have a wonderful day.” I never tell people when I’m playing with my distractions because I enjoy my life like that bumper sticker, “I enjoy every minute of it.” So thinking about what it means to have a distraction that is real to you and meaningless to somebody else.
If you’re in a karate class and you don’t get your arm up, and the next instruction to the classes is to strike your partner, you’re going to get hit.
The idea of addressing it or consciously making a decision is, “what I’m going to do with my distraction? I’m going to play with it and risk getting hit, or am I going to put it in a box on the side so I can take it out and play with it when I’m ready, when I have the mental space for it, because right now, I have to do this homework.”
The consequence this student described is The Prompt of the people who don’t give credence and address it as prods
straighten up your body.
Look at the page.
Don’t look at them
…all of those. He said it’s breaking his brain.
He feels like he’s under attack by a terrible monster that’s just eating at him. His natural first response is a dinosaur attack. He goes into attack mode because of his self defense. We talked about the possibility that these distractions are in the brain. At this point, we became aware that the brain is now involved, which implies choice, autonomy and of course, self determination.
Since the brain is involved, we decided to make a picture of the brain. For my drawing, I thought his brain looked like a brainosaurus. He did not like it when I made the Spitting Fire, so I said, oh, oh, are you sloth-asuras? Does your brain work like a sloth, and do you only eat grass? Then we agreed that yes, we have power tools gifted people are privileged with these strengths.
We have a powerful Brainosaurus, and we yearn for a nonverbal way for the prompts to stop. We don’t use prods because we don’t want to suppress anybody’s choice to interact with their own world,and their own brains, and their own thoughts, ideas, depictions, and sounds that come by association in this rapid calculation of this world by association.
That is really the beautiful wonders of the autistic brain. What we wanted to do was give them a tool and say “every time there is an interaction with your distraction, if you are making the sound of Alvin, or you’re re-enacting a scene of Jurassic Park, Mom is going to place a tiny little slash under Brainosaurus. You don’t have to look at it. You can ignore it. You can let it go. So she’s making these bright pink slashes to mark a moment in time.
These slashes come without prompts. If they’re finished, completed, or interacted with, the student or the child has a different color pen, and just turns them into checks. A real example in this case geometry homework, requires Brainosaurus. It requires your full powers. One of the power tools you have, is to choose what is motivating you more. Is it motivating you more to play with your thoughts, or is it motivating you more to avoid getting monster-slayed? Getting it done is what he wanted most of all, so this was a tool for him to help get to the other side.
This is different from behaviorism because we’re not using a behavior against himself. We’re not using the expression of any scenery that he has in his brain as a behavior problem. We’re not seeing it as a distraction because of something he wants to avoid. We’re literally seeing it as a sign of giftedness and this strength-based approach looks at what the student has to offer.
Look at the capacity of all this cataloguing the capacity of all this calculation replication with perfection being able to pull these things out of his head at any given time, and it’s just magical to see his capacities. Why not take a sliver of those strengths and stick it somewhere so that we can find these goals? This makes it possible to live in a world where we can use our power tools to slay. We can’t actually make Mom stop telling us what to do. We can’t make the teacher stop telling us what to do. We might as well just have a little peace agreement and say, “you know what, I’ll put my arm up when it’s instructed so that I don’t get hit.” Using his powers as a way to defend himself was deemed highly reasonable, and for this lucky student, moved his identity development up one notch.
The individual who is asking for these tools is asking “I need to get to my goals and I don’t want blood on the floor.” Why is everything an argument?
Rule number one, give credit to the expression put it out there. Give it a name and ask where it’s coming from. Identify the source and value it as a legitimate occurrence.
One of the distractions we have today was a walrus.
Is there a real walrus right now in your living room or is it in a movie that’s in your head right now?
Oh, it’s in the movie.
Oh, okay. So that’s fine. No difference.
We didn’t ask because we want to discriminate and say oh it’s only in your head. It’s not a real danger. But if your sister is taking an online class right now and she says ‘hold on teacher, I have to go kill a walrus’. Is she being responsible or irresponsible?
Well, in reality, I have a walrus to kill, and I have to take care of my life. But at the same time, the prod is to sit still because we’re having class now. Those are the prompts that break a person’s brain because they’re stuck in between a walrus that’s real to them and a teacher that’s online, who is karate chopping his brain with Pah, Pah, Pah! In between these competing worlds is where the autistic sits, at a very precarious angle of a demolishing self esteem.
Please read: AUTISTIC ABA SURVIVORS GROW INTO SOUL-CRUSHED TEENAGERS: TRACING THE ROOTS OF THE DAMAGE