#78 | Q&A Emily Kircher-Morris Shares Her 12 GREAT IDEAS to Encourage Self-Advocacy by our Autistic High School Graduates

expert interview Jun 10, 2022

Please click here for a summary of Emily's GREAT Ideas and a transcript of this conversation.

Lynn Davison

So we'll get started here. I'm going to ask a question. Do you wonder if you're autistic high school graduate will ever make it on their own? Well, just by being here, I believe you are a part of the group of families who will close the gap between the 80% of autistic high school students who say they will live independently by the time they're 30 and the 25% of 30 year olds who do so today.

I'm Lynn Davison and I'm fiercely committed to showing families of autistic high school graduates how to move beyond their heart wrenching confusion to the adulting actions that create a life they love. I serve as your trusted guide to inspire long term wins instead of short term battles that disconnect you from each other and keep you stuck.

We have six adult children and our blended family ages 25 to 50, several autistic and all alternative learners. We had to figure this out for ourselves. And I'm happy that my clients say my program help their families become strategic life creators together.

My guest is twice exceptional, has been a teacher of 2e students, is now a clinical psychologist, mental health counselor, author of two books about teaching and raising twice exceptional kids, is the podcast host of the neurodiversity podcast and mom of three 2e kids.

She believes that self advocacy is the number one skill our young adults need to practice and is here to describe her 12 Great ideas that will help us make that happen and answer your questions. So thanks for being here. Emily Kircher-Morris.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Thank you so much. And I'm just going to do one quick mention. So I am a mental health counselor, but I'm not a psychologist and I get in trouble if I went, Oh, okay. Sorry. Just from an ethical standpoint, I don't want to I don't want to misrepresent myself. And so so I'm a master's level clinician. I'm not doctoral level.

Lynn Davison

Okay. Got it. Got it. Okay, so a psychologist is doctoral level, mental health is masters level. Thanks for clarifying.

Emily Kircher-Morris

It's one of those fine lines but I'm sure somebody out there would be questioning. I want that to be clear. I'm here but yes, but all the rest of it was Yeah, and when you mentioned it all out like that I thought, “Oh, no wonder I'm so tired all the time.”

Lynn Davison

I get it. I get it. I get the tired part especially. We do have two participants here. So I would love it. If you would just mention in the chat, where you are from and if you want to share anything about your family, we'd love to hear that too. 

#1 So Emily should we kick off with the first one which is to teach how to advocate for accommodations?

Emily Kircher-Morris

When we're talking about neurodiversity in general, it's really the premise of the neurodiversity movement is about helping kids and people understand that it's more than just trying to change yourself to fit into a society that isn't necessarily created for you. 

So, advocating for accommodations asks people to kind of recognize for themselves what works, what doesn't, and are there certain tools or or supports that would help people with accessibility. 

So just like we have ramps that are available for wheelchair users to access a building. We want to make sure that somebody who is neurodivergent has those accommodations. 

So if they are dyslexic, for example, how do they, you know, what are the accommodations that could be put into place in the workplace so they can be successful? And how do they advocate for those accommodations without trying to limit themselves in terms of what their options or opportunities are? 

Or try to, you know, avoid different situations that might be difficult for them, like how can we build those supports, and so being able to advocate for those accommodations is really important. 

So the way that we can do that to help teach this is in a couple of different ways. 

  1. We can first of all model what advocacy looks like from a very young age and helping whether that's advocating with family members, whether that's advocating with teachers, you know, helping kids to recognize that you're allowed to speak up for yourself, to ask for clarification, to make sure that you understand the situation in order to modify it. 
  2. And then also, we can encourage kids gradually to advocate for themselves. So that might mean that we're going along with them and helping them advocate or they might be writing an email on their own with our guidance, but putting them in front of that instead of us always doing that work for them, so that they can really learn how to have the confidence to ask for those things. What is the best way is to word you know those types of requests, so that they can really be really empowered to continue doing that throughout their life.

Lynn Davison

Mm hmm. And it sounds like practice is gonna make it permanent.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yes, absolutely. And I think it also just normalizes it, because there are a lot of people in our society who feel like we shouldn't ask for help. We should either do it all on our own, or if somebody is going to offer us help, it might be okay to accept it, but we shouldn't impose on others to ask for help. 

And so, there are a lot of societal expectations that can inhibit people from getting the access and the accommodations that they need. 

So when we start with younger kids, and when we normalize that and we empower it within our own households and allow our kids to advocate for themselves in those situations. We normalize that experience. We remove the stigma of needing help, and let them take on those responsibilities.

Lynn Davison

Love all those words that you've given, you know that I hadn't really thought about the American credo of; “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps as being an impediment.” Surely, those thoughts keep repeating themselves, enough in people's brains where they feel shame if they're asking for help. Right.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Well, and and, and, you know, one of my areas of background obviously, is with twice exceptional learners. And so, in general, when you have somebody who is who also has high cognitive ability or is very able in some ways when they have this other disability in other ways, it's really kind of confusing for them because the expectations often are based on what people think that they can do or they should be able to do, which then also creates this weird in between lands, you know, where people are like, well, you should just be able to do that when people are asking for those accommodations. 

So you have to, you know, help them understand themselves and know you know, so that they can basically provide reasoning or rationale for why they might be asking for an accommodation. I need this because even though it might not look like on the surface that I need a lot of help. I do and this is how you can help or this is how I can help myself if you'll allow me to do that.

Lynn Davison

#2  So that takes us to great idea number two, which is to encourage naming the strengths and the struggles plus what helps.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, yeah. And so when, when I'm, I think that kind of goes back to just the normalization. 

And so first of all, let's talk about labels and diagnoses. I think one of the best things that can help our neurodivergent people. I don't even want to just say kids but you know, young adults, I mean all ages, is by helping them to understand how their brains are neurologically wired

And if that qualifies for a diagnosis, let's normalize that diagnosis. Going back to that idea of stigma, there's so much stigma surrounding diagnoses like autism, ADHD, dyslexia.  

Families are sometimes even resistant or avoid going through the process to formalize a diagnosis because maybe their kids are kind of doing okay, and they think it'll be okay. Or maybe, maybe they're gonna grow out of it. 

But ultimately, sometimes what that does is it actually increases a sense of shame about those like at that point in time, where you have somebody who as an as a young adult or an older adult, all of a sudden they they recognize this and they get that diagnosis at that time, and they realize that they've gone their entire life, and that there's something wrong with them

And they haven't had the opportunity to have those accommodations or supports in place. 

So we want to label those struggles. Let's just call it what it is. It's okay. I struggle with executive functioning skills. I struggle with, you know, managing my emotions when I get really overwhelmed. Let's call that what it is. 

But let's also recognize the strengths. Like I do really well when I can process my thoughts aloud with somebody else. It helps me to organize my thinking. 

I'm really strong in this particular academic area. 

And, you know, if that's something that I can integrate, it makes some of those other areas better for me, when we are very direct and straightforward in our communication about what those strengths in those struggles are. It helps us to formulate a clearer idea of what it is that helps. 

So then when we self advocate, we can say specifically, here are the things that work for me, here's what does it and here's what would help then we can kind of move on from there.

Lynn Davison

I created a brief summary video of your 12 GREAT ideas on Wednesday. I have a really good friend who I've known since she was a baby, she's now turning 40, and she's deaf. And I use that as an example. 

I don't sign. I do have Otter.ai on my phone so I can talk into it and it transcribes it and we can pass or we can communicate well that way. 

But for me not to understand that she needs to be accommodated is kind of ridiculous. 

At the same time I think it's a two way street. She's accommodating me because I don't know how to sign so it goes both ways. This is a mutually beneficial exchange.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, that's a really interesting point that you bring up. And I think that it actually speaks a lot to what in the autism community that we call the double empathy problem, right? There's kind of this idea, for example that autistic individuals struggle with empathy which is really just based on the majority population and the expectations that we have for how people interpret communication and understand what other people are thinking. 

Because autistic individuals are some of the most compassionate people I've ever met. And to say that they lack empathy. All that means is that the communication style is not connecting. 

But what's it say about neuro quote unquote, neurotypical people who don't empathize and understand where their autistic friends or family are coming from. 

And that's where the double empathy problem comes in. But just because one group is in the minority and one group is in the majority, right, we think that this is the correct way to communicate or show empathy versus understanding that there are other ways to communicate and connect.

Lynn Davison

Yes, yes, yes. Because there's certainly no lack of empathy and in my household, none of that going on.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I think that's one of the most frustrating and damaging beliefs that people have about autistic individuals. Yeah, because I don't want to go off on a tangent too much. But one of the things that I talked about, I think, in both of my books is the difference between cognitive empathy and affective empathy, and how cognitive empathy is essentially being able to predict what another person is thinking usually based on context clues, yes, that are that are that you have to pick up on and just kind of intuitively know what they mean. But they might mean different things for different people, versus an effect of empathy, which is, oh, I know how this person is feeling and I can feel along with them. 

I can understand that and that's the drive for that compassion. And those two are very separate, but people don't always understand that those are two different things, but none of them I don't know. It's it's a very odd belief. Like I said that I think really hurts the neurodiversity community,

Lynn Davison

certainly a myth that maybe when mirror neurons were the thing, “Oh, they're autistic because they don't have mirror neurons.”

I had someone say that to me, and I'm thinking no, it doesn't fit with what goes on in my household. It just doesn't so that may be a myth. It definitely needs to die. Let's kill it. 

So my parents often are overwhelmed and my autistic young adults are often overwhelmed with where to start? And if I start there, does that mean that I can't change my mind? 

#3 So your third point is to start with what's most noticeable or what's most important to them.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Right? Yeah, and I think I mean, it kind of is logical when you think about it, and I think sometimes we tend to decide for ourselves. 

Instead, finding the starting point for self advocacy is really dependent on recognizing what can be changed, what's most important to the person, you know, what, what will maybe make the biggest difference? 

And I think that sometimes, especially if we are the caregivers or the educators, we can get really stuck in the weeds with the outcome and caught up with all of the different things that we might see in the long run that maybe need some support. 

Just know that you don't have to solve all the problems all at once. 

And And progress is progress. And also, progress is never, I'm sorry to say, going to be consistent all the time, like you're going to make some progress and regress and keep going. And that's normal. 

Again, when we're talking about neurodiversity specifically, it is a neurodevelopmental diagnosis, meaning that it is lifelong. It's about how a person's brain is wired. 

And so for example, a lot of my clients who are autistic or ADHD, for example, may feel like we're like we're always making progress, but because it's related so closely to their development, as they get older, situations change, things change. 

We need to continue to work on a variety of different situations or strategies. 

But when you're starting out and you're really trying to focus on self advocacy, you know, go ahead and tackle, you know, are taking on some of the low hanging fruit first, in order to feel like there's a sense of self efficacy and some progress. And like, oh, this can work, and then build from there.

Lynn Davison

That's what I always say. Let's start and then see once one domino domino can push over another domino, that's one and a half  times its size and weight. And once we put one over than the others do 10. We have confidence, we have faith. Confe-dere. You know the root word, the root of that word. That we have faith that we can do the next thing even though it's uncomfortable

Emily Kircher-Morris

So you get a little bit of momentum going. Yeah. 

Lynn Davison

#4 That ties right into number four which is to discover what they see. 

You know, what's going on for them? What bothers them the most or what are they asserting to?

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, I think it's really easy to put our expectations on to others, and I mean, I think that society, like society does that, parents do that, teachers do. I mean, we just tend to do that. 

The problem with that is when we are talking about self advocacy, it has to be something that is valuable and important to that person. We can't ask them to advocate for something that isn't meaningful for them. 

Another piece of this relates just to motivation in general, where, you know, if there's not some sort of connection to what is the circumstance or the or the request or whatever it is, like there has to be a tie in there. Because if there's not, I don't know, I guess maybe you might be able to go through the motions, but you're not changing anything. You're not making any real progress there. As far as developing, helping somebody develop as a person and helping them develop the skills that they need to be successful.

Lynn Davison

#5 So that right there goes right into the next good point, which is that listening and the power of therapeutic silence.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah. I don't know about you, but I tend to be a person who fills the silence. Yes. Like if there's a quiet moment. It's like, I have to really

Lynn Davison

Nature abhors a vacuum. You want to jump right in.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I catch myself oversharing because I'm like, Okay, well, I have to fill this time here. Yes. Oh, okay. I could just stop what I often say. So I started out my career as a teacher. And one of the things that we talked about in my education programs was using wait time in the classroom. 

And the purpose of wait time in the classroom is that if you pose a question to the class, you sit back and you wait, and you give everybody a chance to process that you don't just call on the first person who raises their hands. You want to give everybody the chance to process. Kids process at different speeds. We want to just give everyone that opportunity. 

And so then, so then I got you know, when I went back and got my second Master's in Counseling and family therapy, we talked a lot about the use of the therapeutic use of silence in the counseling room, and how important it is that as patients we don't jump in and fill in the blanks for our clients. 

And I will tell you that that was really hard for me to do as much as we could do in the classroom where I'm with a whole group of students and everyone's thinking and there's something specific but when you're sitting one on one with somebody, and you're asking them to probably disclose maybe some something uncomfortable for them. It's really easy to go, “Well is it this or is it this or is it this?” We take away that power of finding their own solutions. We take away the opportunity for them to take a risk by sharing things. 

I think even more than what I learned in my counseling sessions by getting comfortable with that. With that quiet is how important that is to us with my own children too. 

Because as parents we know our children so well. And it is so easy to assume that we know the solution and a lot of times we do what's going on. Bbut we have to let them come to that conclusion. We have to let them figure out like, well, what is it that's preventing you from getting your homework done? What is it that's keeping you from you know, handling this, this relationship with your friends in a certain way. 

And, you know, if we, if we tell them what we think they're doing, they'll probably go yep, that's right. You're right to ascribe to it. Right.

But maybe there's something else that we're missing is the power in general of letting them come to that conclusion on their own. If we have a problem and we're trying to come up with a solution for it, how can we let kids come up with their own solution in that way so that they can really just have the opportunity to to try to take a risk with something, you know, maybe it's a solution that we wouldn't suggest maybe it's a solution that we know is not a good solution. But there's power in making the attempt and learning from a failure or maybe they'll surprise us and be successful. 

But to allow them to do that, we have to stop talking. We have to stop providing the answers. We have our opinion about it. And we have to let them take that time. To figure out what that might be.

Lynn Davison

That was the biggest lesson I learned four years ago when I started walking with my son every day. There was a time when I was concerned there was suicide ideation. And he's saying his therapist isn't helping. 

And I said, “Well, we've got to figure this out.” 

I found that if I didn't really double zip my lip that I would miss golden nuggets. 

The other thing is that he would “people please” me. So he would choose a direction that I thought he should go in. 

And then later on, he would say but I did that because you told me to. 

So no, I don't think so I found that it'd be best if he came up with the solutions and implemented them and he has had to, you know, take on some consequences.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah. I think the other thing about this, too, is recognizing that neurodivergent people often have slower processing speed often.

Emily Kircher-Morris

And so I'll be honest. I'm an ADHDer, and I have a lot of autistic traits as well, but there's never been an official diagnosis that I've been given. Um, but in general, though, I think the ADHD picks up the process. I process very quickly and I tend to speak very quickly if I'm not being deliberate and putting my thoughts into words. 

And there are times in my personal life, I tend to interrupt people. My brain has called it and I'm, like, come on, you gotta get to the point. 

But what I have learned, again, through the practice, I mean, I always say, going through my master's program to become a clinician and a counselor and working with my clients has been one of the most growth that I've had as a person to be able to do that. 

And I think when I have allowed people the time, whether they're clients or friends or my children, and I give them that time to process and come up with their own responses, I'm often floored. 

With luck that I couldn't have anticipated and I have to, I have to temper my own personality, you know, because my brain is splitting all over the place and allowing them that opportunity.

Lynn Davison

Yeah, because that's a real gift. That's that sacred space that we can hold for whatever has happened, the insights are, it's wonderful when they come up with their own insights, because then you know, it's going to stick.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Way more ways than telling them what we think, waving evidence on the same thing.

Lynn Davison

Yeah. Right. If they come to the conclusion, it's going to stick. Yeah. 

#6 So your sixth point was to try this scientific method.

Wow, that's so good, because everybody knows that. We don't have to learn that in school. So tell me more.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Well, I think so. This is one of my favorite things to deal with, with kids in general and that is, you know, if they are having anxiety about a situation or just not quite sure how to handle that situation. It's a great way to externalize the problem and make it something that isn't quite so personal. It takes away the risk of failure in a way that just says, just try this and see what happens. 

if you if you use that framework of the scientific method and say, Okay, let's just look at this problem as if we're scientists. Okay, what's a hypothesis of what might work or what might not work? 

And how can we build a plan to test this hypothesis? Sometimes the hypothesis is to break through with some perfectionism. 

Like, for example, if I don't get an A on a test, or if I don't, you know, go over this homework over and over and over again until it's perfect. Those are like the half tos. I have to do those things. It's like, do you have to do them? What would happen if I turned in a math test, and I intentionally left two questions blank or I intentionally got two questions wrong. Nothing bad will happen, or my grade will still be acceptable. 

And then it kind of is an opportunity to take that risk and kind of safe way. Yes. Yeah. And when you do that, and you have and then you go back or sometimes it'll even just be like, “Let's collect some data about things.” 

So for example, you know, a kiddo who's maybe somebody who's really struggling with emotional regulation, and you don't have a hypothesis yet, but maybe we just need to collect some data about it. Collecting data about something again, it externalizes it, it makes it more matter of fact, there's no right or wrong. 

And so if you can just collect some data about what are the times of the day that you're getting emotionally dysregulated literally, what are the ways that you will write down how long does it take to kind of get back to baseline? 

That's good information that I think sometimes just reflecting on our own is kind of hard to delineate. So if we're able to use that scientific method, if we're able to kind of look at it in an objective way. As scientists, we can actually get a lot of good information. And again, it allows some attempts for things that you can be a little bit too uncertain about trying. Otherwise.

Lynn Davison

Yeah, I see a lot of fear. In. I remember when I was 15, and I lived in Colombia as an exchange student, and my Spanish was not very good. I was not a very good Spanish student. 

So I didn't have all the verbs and the conjugations and the grammar rules memorized. 

Everything was different. I mean, the way it smelled, the way all the sounds were different, all the tactile references, all the food differences, all the words obviously I was struggling to be heard. I remember that being just draining I would sleep 12 hours a night just to recuperate from that. 

And then I've thought recently Wow, that's the world my kids have been living in. Pretty much their whole life. No wonder it takes a moment for them to recenter themselves at the end of working a four hour work shift. No wonder there are times when they just don't want to sit at the dinner table. There they are in their space and they're having a good time and they don't want to interrupt that. No wonder that's what's happening. 

And that fear of trying something else. Can you imagine the number of times that they were “othered” in Abby Wambach’s words. That is a term. They were “othered” in their class.

She did a commencement speaker speech and she's from Rochester, New York. So that other expression I hadn't heard before. How many times have they been othered in their lives? So no wonder they're concerned about getting out there.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, absolutely. And just taking it the scientific method kind of takes the sting out of it.

It allows, again, you know, just for some experimentation, to recognize that maybe what we've always done isn't more unique. We need to look at some different solutions.

Lynn Davison

So here's a common struggle that aren't my parents also have. 

#7 Enabling, okay, I get it, enabling is doing it for them and accommodating is helping them design the solutions they implement. 

Okay, so but help me find the Goldilocks middle, you know, because there are times when okay, I can say go do it and they don't. Okay, let's put the scaffolding in place. How? Explain that term.  When I saw that on my son's IEP. I went, “What is that?”

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, yeah, I think I'm having the conversations and communicating about what accommodations are needed with a child and, and then establishing with them quickly. Like, why do we need this? Why do you need this accommodation, you know, and helping them really understand why they need it, and then helping them create some parameters for knowing when they won't make? Yes. 

Yeah, so name enabling is when we are doing the accommodations and we're running around behind the scenes and they're just unaware of it. Right. That's when it becomes enabling when we're just doing it and it's just expected and they don't even realize that it's happening for them. 

But when they're accommodated, they're part of the process. We say listen, we're working on building this particular skill. This accommodation is in place for now. And how do we then eventually know that we can either back off on it and reduce the level of accommodation or change it a little bit? 

You know, that is kind of that sweet spot where they're part of that process. 

And when we have that communication, and let's be honest, for neurodivergent people, there may be limitations that they need throughout their life. And that's okay. But really, the goal is that as they enter adulthood, they are able to manage and implement and monitor those accommodations on their own. It's like “semi-self-accommodate” so you know, for example, I know that you know, I struggle with organization right in the ADHD brain executive functioning. 

So I found that the accommodation for me, one of the things that works is I have one planner that has all of the things: the home stuff that works at the pocket like all and I can't have I can't have different digital apps I can't like, but that's what works for me. 

That's a really minor one. Yeah, but it took me a while to kind of figure out what was going to work with that. 

And so helping individuals figure out what accommodations they need or like. 

Another one would be if I can't work in an area that has noise, like if I'm trying to focus or write, I have to have quiet because my brain if actually, as a matter of fact, people if people are watching this, or we started in with you and I were kind of sitting here sitting here chatting. I could hear my son downstairs and he was probably just watching like, we're on his phone and all I could hear is like when I'm talking like you'd have to turn off the volume. Like it's only like I can pass on it. So I'm sorry for my family members who are here who have to deal with that. 

But you know, so what are the accommodations? Well, these are two issues here and I'm at my desk and I'm doing something and I was like I've got instrumental I can have instrumental music and I have headphones on to drown out the other noise or noise in my office the all of those accommodations.

So how do we help individuals get to the point where they can be aware of what accommodations they need and implement them on their own? And so that's where we have to like in our mind, that's what our end goal is, then we're not going to fall into that place of enabling.

Lynn Davison

And that is what a lot of the parents that come to me because they're in their 20s and they're literally stuck there. They're in their rooms, on screens. They won't do anything. They're just not actively participating. 

And so, I've come I've come to up with a hypothesis that the reason why that transition is so difficult from the school world to the working world is because in the school world, things are pretty well defined meaning I do have clients who have graduated from college and they just, you know, they met all those expectations and the now what becomes how do I define what I want? How do I put the structure in place, and that is what keeps them stuck because they have what's the next we have to teach that part? That doesn't just come intuitively.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I agree. Yeah, I was talking with a parent earlier this week. Who was talking to me about their child who has a master's degree but it's living at home and I'm really, really involved with a particular video game which not right or wrong there's like that's like the the main bulk of that the idea of having to go try and find a job and get employment in kind of this world because school is so structured and it kind of propels you through. You know, in a lot of ways we went over that. Yes. 

And then at the end, it's like okay, now go do it. And you know, for some individuals that's a really big leap. 

And honestly, we don't do a very good job through high school and college, preparing young adults for what adult life is really like. They might be trained to do a better job, perhaps, but making that transition to who they want to be, that doesn't come intuitively. It can be really difficult.

Lynn Davison

I've seen it and it causes a lot of anxiety which then builds up further learning when the midbrain is on fire, the front brain isn't thinking and that's so the first step in most case in any case, is figure out how to get that calm.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, I think one of the most encouraging I see is the number of neurodiversity in work, hiring initiatives and those types of programs where the corporate world I think is ahead of the educational world, where they're realizing that people need accommodations, they need the support to make that transition. And we are losing out on so much. Talent. Yes. And duties. You know, for people for people with these.

Lynn Davison

Yep, yes. We are. Because of the employment, they're hard to really pinpoint, but they're not no matter what number you look at, it's not where you want it to be. 

#8 So this is where you say that we can name our brain.

I thought that was brilliant. And then if we oh, this part of my brain tends to be warning me. How, you know, if we speak to them with compassion, us with compassion, then we're so much more likely to come up with a solution that works for the brain.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, I think that goes back to just that externalization. 

For example, when who we're dealing with, kind of OCD types of thoughts, right, and they have those intrusive thoughts and they just can't get rid of them. 

The thing about those types of thoughts is it's not like other ways that you can kind of rationalize through or try to, like, use cognitive behavioral techniques, because there's no real logic to them. 

But if you can just label them and say something's, depending on an individual's age, like, oh, well, there's that subsidy thought again, they're gonna close that and just kind of go through. It's not me. I am not my thoughts. I always love this phrase, just because you think it doesn't mean it's true.

Lynn Davison

Right? That's really important. 

Emily Kircher-Morris

With younger grades, you know, younger kiddos sometimes will do things like oh, well, let's you know, this is a worry monster or your brain bully. And something along those lines. 

Again, it kind of gives them the power to to kind of be more in charge of it. And so, but recognizing that those thoughts, those worries, those fears, those whatever, aren't you, that's not who you are and they don't have to define you. And that can be hard sometimes to think for people.

Lynn Davison

They don't have to extinguish them. Sometimes that's what they immediately go to, “Oh, I shouldn't think that.” That resistance just makes it worse actually.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I agree. Yeah. And that's out. Yeah, I was talking to a client earlier this week, who has just graduated college and you figure out like, what are the next steps? Where am I going and you know, has a lot of these but they define as negative thoughts and right and I just, you know, so so their homework between our next you know, until our next session is just to stop trying to talk yourself out of those thoughts, right. Just go. “There's that thought again.”

Lynn Davison

There it goes. Okay, there it goes. Okay.

Emily Kircher-Morris

All right. In you don't have anything in it. You just have to go. Well, I'm not coming yet.

Lynn Davison

Space. Yeah. That's been a focus for my clients as well. Oh, yeah. And they worry about not making progress fast enough on that one. No, but I should be further along as well. Right. Who decided that?

Lynn Davison

I loved the developmental timeline, and yet I almost wish it weren't even a thought.

Emily Kircher-Morris

You know, we're how we look at the well, first of all, if there's a timeline, there are multiple options. Okay, there's a way to put a timeline, and additionally, to quantify it because it all happens at its own pace. The hard thing is sometimes it doesn't always happen. In order the way we would like.

Lynn Davison

#9 Well, because people are disabled only if they aren't accommodated..

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah. You know, talking going back to that example, I was talking earlier about, you know, building for individuals who use wheelchairs. So we recognize that ADHD and autism and other diagnoses like that are not disabilities. 

They definitely are struggles that come along with them. 

And I feel like sometimes honestly, when we have, well, that's my superpower. I worry about that sometimes because it kind of minimizes the difficulties that go along with it. 

And and almost sometimes makes it, “I shouldn't have to ask for those accommodations that we're talking about.” 

So how should I be able to compensate because of all of these things? 

But with that being said, we recognize that these things are impairments right? How to be impaired and your emotional regulation or the way that you've you communicate, or, you know how you regulate your emotions or whatever that might be. 

But, it isn't disabling. Somebody doesn't have accommodations.

If my eyesight isn't corrected, right? Disability,

I'm no longer disabled. Insofar as my eyesight goes because I have glasses. That's an accommodation. 

So how do we put accommodations that will allow people to access work, or even whatever it is, you know, transportation, I mean, there's so many pick an area it's not disabling until society doesn't make accommodations.

If any of you are curious, if they wanted to look up the social model of disability and talk about how that fits there. It is a really interesting concept and it's a valuable framework. Do I think that that's really like? 

If we can put all of it in that realm. Like, let's be realistic, right. But I do think it's it. It puts things into perspective about tinnitus, being put on society on some level, to make accommodation that people can be included in society.

Lynn Davison

Because that that bell shaped curve of needs. Societies go to the middle, it's just and yet the the extra, you know, the tail outliers have to always you know, what we're trying to do as a society at that part it's not that we were wrong or right now it's not bad. It's like we're trying to improve.

#10 So here's the scaffolding, lots of practice, then slowly removed the scaffolding to transfer responsibility.

You made the remark in your book that sometimes the scaffolding gets removed too quickly.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yeah, yeah, I think that um, we need to be able to make sure that cuz I say kids just because it's I taking it from the from the kind of like I said, an educator or a caregiver or whatever. And I like like, if it was adult kids, they're still they're still children. Yes. 

And so, but but it is, you know, when we are writing the support through the scaffolding, so basically meaning what are the support they need? What are the accommodations, and we start to transfer responsibility over to them, how do we help them recognize what they need to notice to let them know that they need to put something back in place? That they can Yes. And be really realize that?

A lot of ways.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I don't know.  Maybe it sounds like I’m asking, “What's the rush?” sometimes with things and is it better to have a conversation if somebody's like, not sure if they need the support? 

 Let's just look at maybe about that scientific method piece and say, Let's collect some data. What are you actually using this accommodation? Are you just keeping it there? Because it's a safety net. You're keeping it there? Because maybe that's okay, but maybe we need to recognize that what is and not something that you really need some way as something else? 

Again, bringing that together and really reflecting on what's working, what's not. What can we change to empowerer people to make those decisions for their own lives. That's where the self advocacy comes in. They need to be able to advocate for what's working so that they can continue to support if they're needed to be successful.

Lynn Davison

And that was the shock when my my young adults had a job and there were some things occurring, some bullying and even some harassment. And I couldn't do anything. Yeah. It would have been inappropriate for me to step in and it was like I was they had to tie my hands. Do they understand that this violates their rights?

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yes, absolutely. And they have to be able to do that. And that's why we have to start with that. So yeah, to empower them to do it so that it's normalized for them. And so that they're not afraid to move on and on. So that they recognize what their needs are. Yeah. And so yeah, it's it's amazing. And it's sometimes disheartening. 

We see people who are going in their jobs and they're willing to take these steps. You know, I have a client who we've been working together for a couple of years and they have a job in retail. And, you know, the fear of disclosing.

Lynn Davison

Yes, because of all the shame that came with it from before.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yes, and then they treated they disclose that diagnosis. And so, you know, this person disclosed it and was hoping you know, to access some accommodation. altom Utley felt like it just meant that people were condescending to them, and really didn't understand. 

And so, after the course of a couple of years, though, we're finally now to the point where we're formally asking, you know, for some disability accommodations, but it's been, it's really hard to self advocate because it's scary, and people don't understand. 

I think that, especially for invisible disabilities, like neurodiverse diversity, you know, sometimes you'll see these people don't get it, they think that they think that it's, you know, being lazy or unmotivated or whatever. And so that's the stigma in society that we need to remove to empower people to ask for these accommodations.

Lynn Davison

So well said because that was those were the thoughts. I don't want to be because nobody wants to hear that I have autism and I don't know, but I'm uncomfortable that if I disclose they’ll start talking to me like a two year old you know, which is not what I need. Yeah.

Lynn Davison

And yeah, so we worked through most of that and then eventually, but and it was interesting. During this pandemic, both of the young adults we have at home are the were the first to get laid off to the well, you know, it wasn't targeted in any way. I'm, you know, the whole thing. The jobs just weren't available during the pandemic but that hump me, me. I said to myself, if something catastrophic would occur in the next five years, where would they be, is something that can happen to me? 

And that can be putting the financial things in place to make sure that I've done everything that I could. I suppose no one of us wanted to get all those accomodations and all those benefits from the government. I'd been taught that that was shameful behavior. 

And I evolved from that what I'm thinking which is if something happens catastrophically in the next five years, and brothers and sisters need to help, is it to impose on them the economic burden that that would just for them to have access to health care? Safe Housing, and yeah, so I said, we're getting that stuff. We're putting it in place. You may make too much money and you get kicked off of it, yes, but you are all so probably, you know, they're the most vulnerable in terms of layoffs easily reinstated, so that's what we're working on to get in place. This protection. At least something is there in the home, the family and was it done everything we could admit and maybe minimize the resentment of having to do this plus one.

#11 I love the map time in visual blocks.

You liked the paper. I prefer digital. Now that I can see it, and then I can just click on it and move it and this is good stuff. And that's what we've added that task list thing on the side of Gmail and Google Calendar and to do's over there. And I don’t have to copy them over and over again. So all these free tools are time visually in blocks, which is so helpful.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Yes, absolutely. And I think that for anyone who struggles with just time management, and or anticipating things, it's really, it's really useful. 

The other thing is just as far as time management goes. I think that one of the things that can be really useful is kind of measuring things in blocking along certain tasks. 

And so if you know that it takes a minute to do XYZ, then when you map out that time, it is like a little puzzle. You can move it around and understand how all of those things are going to fit together. And realistically, how much time do you have? Did you know whatever the situation would be, I think that it will. It's really a really useful practice to be able to visualize that if it's not something that comes on at play. Right. Right.

Lynn Davison

And that's the last step will go through the IMAP process where we look at okay, what how does it integrate into what we're doing when and I love that tool? Because it can you can actually tell it, you're gonna get it done at this time and I love that it has the recurring option as well. 

So yes, start looking at how are we investing our money? And does that align with who we really want to be? Because it's the one thing that is finite, man. I mean, money is not. You can always make more money but time is a finite resources that is precious to all of us. 

We want to make sure we invest in a way that you know, could grow who we are and do what matters most to us, because I and I thought this was really cool that most depression is triggered when we are not meeting our own expectations. 

Whoa. There's an insight it didn't have before. Yeah. Depression myself, and it clicked and it said, oh, yeah, it's really good enough. I wasn't a good enough mum. And that was what and I think that's what happens to parents who you know, are given neurodiverse kids, they feel like they don't know what to do. Because you are an expert in your kid.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I agree and just take the your next step.

Lynn Davison

Listen, if you don't know the next one after that, that's okay, because it will become obvious.

Emily Kircher-Morris

There are very few wrong decisions. Yes. You just keep doing the next best thing during the next you learn as you go I mean, it's hard to hard

Lynn Davison

Because our kids are wired for customized solutions. Yes. If I had a magic wand, I would wave it.

But I know that's the discovery process is so rich. We know each other better. We have the connections that we didn't before we can solve the problem together. It's just hopefully you think when we think about that, and I love the last one.

#12 Straightforward talks about uncomfortable topics.

Emily Kircher-Morris

Tell me about that. Yeah, I think that that's again, another thing that really has been something I've learned in practice, but something that I wish maybe had been occurring when I was younger, just for myself, because it's when you have neurodivergent children, no matter their age, I don't even know as neurodivergent when you have kids, we can't assume that they know things or that they're going to understand things.

So being really straightforward. And talking about what's going on. Whether it's uncomfortable for us or for them. Being very matter of fact, is really useful. 

One of the things we talked about communication and I'm not going to remember the term right now. I'm going to use this term but I might be using the wrong term but like there's high context conversations and low context conversation. 

So high context conversations are where you're taking all of this information from the webinar or what the nonverbal communication from the other person, and you're having to put all of these pieces together to understand the big picture. And so when we say things that are kind of human terms or analogies that aren't very clear, if somebody doesn't have that background knowledge, but I don’t know what that means. 

But if we put to a low context way, we just say that thing very directly. It makes such a difference. The number of times that I've had clients come into my office and they won't have such an such issue. And this was the thing they just don't they just don't care. They just aren't good at figuring it out. 

I talk to my client about it, and we're talking about and I'll basically say when somebody says blah, blah, blah, what they really mean is if somebody says this, what they're really looking for and I wish they told me.

It's like if somebody had just let me know I would have been able to handle that.

Lynn Davison

Yeah, this this is the book that read, Autism Is Context Blindness by Peter Vermuelen. was context blindness. Oh, interesting. Yeah. His PhD work has been with autistic people. I can send my book summary to you if you want.

Emily Kircher-Morris

I would recommend, What to Say Next, by Judy Baxbaum, which is written by a woman who is autistic and her autistic husband and she basically as a career, she was a guest on the podcast, best guests on the podcast. Which on YouTube, it might be time, maybe it is context. That's the terminology.

Lynn Davison

approach say next. I'm going to have to bring one up. Yeah, yes. Oh, good because we talked and then the other thing in a an uncomfortable that the parents are struggling. I think the piece that is that some comfortable is the need to share your struggle, because they need to see that it's okay to struggle and how does it work best for you to work through that? 

I just had a conversation last week that I was not proud of. I just said I really struggled. I said that and now I'm making better. How to talk to that part of my brain that says you're not good enough and figuring out where that all came around and going oh, okay. Now I know better and they need you know, if they see me struggle that gives them permission. I think.

Emily Kircher-Morris

It normalizes it. Yeah, it lets people know that we're all human. Yeah, nobody has figured out thank you

Lynn Davison

Well, I cannot tell you how wonderful this conversation is. And I really want to everybody, no need to do that and go right to your website is your name.com or to my website.com forward slash blog is where the transcript in the replay of this will be. If you didn't get a chance to come back. We're happy to see you on the replay. 

So thank you again. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you. Okay, bye for now.