Build Independence Skills (Lori H)

autisticadults autisticgraduates increaseautisticindependence Apr 04, 2023

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Hi! It's Lynn, your adulting coach. Thank you so much to Lori for submitting her struggle in a recent email . We really appreciate hearing from everybody because when we share our struggles we can also share the solutions that have worked for each other.

So she wants to know how can she help them believe in themselves and try things that are hard but that they are capable of doing that support the. Learning how to take care of themselves instead of enabling them by doing things for them all the time things that they want to be able to do but believe they can't. Like cooking for themselves and keeping track of their schedule and making friends.

This is such a good question because it's what we all want to do. So I suggest that they need to develop three disciplines. This is the first discipline, responsive discipline, so they make good decisions.

1 The first practice is to accept what is. She needs to accept that this is a skill that she's going to have to practice to learn.

It's just going to take time it's not going to be easy so it's going to be a little bit painful it's going to be a little uncertain as to how it's going to turn out and she's just going to have to do the work. There's no way to level up your skills without doing the work. So we have to accept that it's going to take work as parents as guides for them, for our autistic graduates. We need to accept the work that's in front of us as well we know this is going to take time.

We've seen the amount of extra support that our kids needed in school and they got through that and now we know that if we give them the right amount of support they will also be okay on their own someday.

2 So that's what we have to accept and believe that it's possible. Bit by bit we're going to put it together and make it possible for them to live the life that they want. It's not going to look the same for everybody. We're going to have different strengths and weaknesses. They're going to need different kinds of supports. That's perfectly fine.

But if we can believe. Belief is just a collection of thoughts that we find true. So the second practice is to notice the thoughts that we have on this topic and see if we can wiggle them a little bit just by adding sometimes a phrase at the beginning or at the end of the thought just to see if we can't find...I mean there are so many things that we cannot control but the one thing we can control is the way that we think. That's all going on inside of us so the good news is we have the power to control it.

So when we believe, we look at what's happening. They need to learn how to cook they need to learn how to manage their schedule they need to know how to make friends.

So what is let's break this down into small steps they believe they can try because that's all confidence is is the willingness to try.

Now what? Well, they go try it and then what they get a result. That's how we want to to sort out what's going on inside of their heads: the beliefs the thoughts that they're repeating to themselves that are creating the belief that it's not possible for them to do these skills that we know they can do.

3 When we connect with them, the idea is to help them see that thinking. So often it just spins around just like the washing machine with a bunch of clothes that you know you can't distinguish one from the other one. It's in the spin cycle.

But when we slow it down and use our senses more than not just our thoughts but we also use our eyes, we use our ears, we use our mouth, and we use our hands to sort this out.

We listen to each other. We scribe it so that we can we write it down so we can actually see what's happening. We explain the thinking that's going on. We figure out by using our hands, writing it down, how we can change it by adding, "It's possible,.." or maybe or at the end, "...and that's okay we'll figure it out." and, "...that's okay, I've done this before." Or, "That's okay. I've learned new things before," because then they all have or they would not have been able to make it this far.

So connecting with ourselves is also so important at this point. We have to understand what are the thoughts that create the sometimes impatient responses that we get or the heavy sighs or the other ways that we communicate to them that we don't have confidence that they can do these new things.

We need to make sure that we're centered and that we're in a good place. A place that's hopefully fueled by love because that just is the best emotion of all.

Now that we're all connected let's figure out how to structure what needs to happen next. That's the structural discipline.

4 We anchor in what's important to them and decide the very next thing that we're going to do.

We right size it so that it's a task that they're confident they can do because we want to maximize their motivation, which is their confidence that they can do something. They expect it's going to turn out okay, times the importance to them so that we want to maximize their importance.

We want to minimize their distractions which is how easily they get taken off course. And how far away the reward is.

So if we can minimize if we can right size the tasks so that the reward isn't too far away and we make it so that it's compelling and we remove as many of the distractions as we can we'll maximize the motivation and minimize the distraction to come out with the maximum motivation to get it done.

That's what we need to do next all right so now that we've got the structure in place we know when this is going to happen we know what the requirements are in terms of the materials. We schedule it on our on our calendar.

Then we feel the fear and get through it to do that scary thing anyway. This is where we expand. This is our expansive discipline. We expand our skills. These there are three practices here.

5 We look at our thoughts. "Oh I don't know if I can put a hot pan inside of a hot oven."

Okay, if that's something let's address it. Let's get in those oven gloves so they can set it right in and not even feel the heat there.

Let's just find the thoughts that are convincing them that it's just too much. When we can find those thoughts then we can wiggle them, "Well, I thought this but now that you've talked to me about it I realized that if we you know take care of it this way it's possible," then we act.

We go do it. We feel that fear because it's going to keep coming up.

Because that brain is going to offer them thoughts that protects them against anything that could go wrong, tells them to save all their resources and and helps them find the pleasure in life.

6 Well, we're going to make sure that they know how what needs to be done in as much of a step-by-step fashion as possible. We support them, especially the first few times around until they get more confidence that they can do it in a more independent fashion. That's when we act.

7 Then we debrief together in our partnership process, figuring out what went well, what we could do better next time. And then schedule the next experiment to expand our discipline this way.

So that's how these seven practices work together. I really hope that you'll join me in the Art of Adulting where I give you even more tools to address each of those seven practices.

I put the seven practices together because you know this is a marathon we're on. I realized after talking to you know after close to 1700 conversations with autistic young adults and their families that the things that needed to be done fell into these seven categories.

There are seven days in the week. So let's practice, let's be aware of them. One each day. If the only thing we do is think about them each day of the week, we will continuously level up our skills and our awareness of where we are in each of those practices so that we can be the guide they need to increase their independence.

Bye for now!