Attitude Always First
Many parents, professionals and their support staff have asked me in the past a lot of “what to do…” questions. What to do when a child does not respond, does not look at you or engage in meaningful interactions? What to do?
What if a child engages in self-stimulating behaviors for an extended period of time? What to do?
What if a child is crying and you don’t quite know why? What to do?
My most common answer to that question: Before I will help you with the “what to do” I first want to help you develop the most positive, loving, accepting and compassionate attitude you possible can.
“Attitude is the way one thinks, feels and behaves about something, and reflects a state of Mind or disposition. Parents see their children through a filter of conscious and unconscious thoughts, beliefs and attitudes which influence the way they perceive their child’s actions. When these thoughts are positive they usually lead to positive actions, to acceptance, appreciation and enjoyment of the child; when they are distressing, they can lead to negative emotions and impair effective parenting.” (1)
This is accomplished through a gentle, kind and yet probing questioning process based on the book “The Option Method” by Bruce Di Marsico, in which the parent and/or helper can self-examine conscious and unconscious thoughts, past patterns, belief systems, assumptions, negative judgments and/or past habits that may show a negative attitude toward the child or in many cases toward themselves. By changing old patterns, perspectives and judgments into a more positive, accepting and enthusiastic attitude the “what to do’s” look very different when approaching the child.
“Children on the Autism Spectrum have a very unique way of experiencing the world and face challenges in day to day events which they find difficult to process and make sense of. The attitude that surrounds the child is crucial for the child to overcome challenges and affects how responsive the child will be.” (1)
What to Do Always Second
One of the ways we then can demonstrate to the child that we love them without any conditions, we accept them exactly for who they are at the moment and that we do not hold any negative judgment about them or their behaviors, is to follow a child’s interests, through loving, parallel play.
Another demonstration of a positive attitude is cheering, celebrating and/or praising the child for even the slightest contact they are making with another person.
There will be many more techniques further explained and taught on this website and/or in the services that I offer.
The techniques in the Global Autism Solutions Program (GASP) are based on motivating all children to connect deeply with another person, to pay close attention to another person and ultimately interact and engage with another person in meaningful ways.
Besides the parallel play and the celebrating, I teach how to encourage, entice and motivate a child to develop interactive social skills through creative, spontaneous and fun activities and games.
“Motivation is the engine of growth and the largest factor in a child’s learning and progress: if a child is following his interests and motivations, learning occurs at a faster rate.” (1)
ATTITUDE ALWAYS FIRST, WHAT TO DO SECOND
[Prata J, Lawson W, Coelho R. How the attitude of acceptance, enthusiam and learning through motivation affects brain development in children with autism: a literature review. Journal of Intellectual Disability – Diagnosis and Treatment, 2018, 6, 14-24;
Prata J, Lawson W, Coelho R. Parent training for parents of children on the autism spectrum: a review. International Journal of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health 2018; 5:3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21035/ijcnmh.2018.5.3
Prata J, Lawson W, Coelho R. Stress factors in parents of children on the autism spectrum: an integrative model approach. Submitted to International Journal of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health]