#31 | Resistance, Chaos and Transformation Q&A with Yulia Rafailova

expert interview Feb 18, 2022

Click here to download a PDF of Yulia's 9 GREAT Ideas plus the transcription of our conversation with the link to the video and summary of Yulia's talk.

Hi, I'm Lynn. Your adulting coach. I help autistic young adults and their families systemize adulting together. And it is my pleasure today to present with my very good friend and executive function coach Yulia Rafailova.

Yulia Rafailova 0:36
Thank you so much, Lynn for having me. I'm so excited to chat with you today. I'm so excited to be here.

Lynn Davison

What we're going to do today we're going to answer several questions that have been submitted. And please, please join us on the chat. Anytime you wish. Because I'd really like to hear from you all. And you know what, I'm trying to figure out where the chat went. But anyway, I'll do that while Yulia is answering the first question. And that is,

What is executive function anyway?

Yulia Rafailova 1:08
Awesome. Well, I found the chat and I see participants so Hello, everyone, thank you for being here. 

I'm going to talk fast and I'm going to draw and I'm going to draw using my whiteboard because other tech was not available. Okay.

So what is executive function? There's, there's many like different ways to define executive function. And what I want to do is to just be really practical, and look at it from a couple of different perspectives.

So first, the definition is very simple. It's our ability to visualize ourselves in the future, getting to some goal, and then being able to visualize that, orienting ourselves, and figuring out what steps we're taking in order to move closer to that goal and and being able to persist until we achieve it.

So that very, basically, is what we mean when we say you know, executive function, executing, getting stuff done.

And then if we want to go a little deeper into that, there are several functions that our executive brain manages. And these are, you know, neuro biological functions, right.

And so, for someone with ADHD for example, these functions are delayed in development, and they are asynchronously developing, so some of them might be, you know, right where a neurotypical brain is, and some of them might be about 30% below.

So when we're looking at executive function, we're really talking about this part of our brain that's our prefrontal cortex. That's in charge of managing all the things we need to do to move through time and space toward that goal.

And so that means seeing ahead to the future: future thinking.

That's an executive function being able to understand the concrete steps, organizing the steps and organizing the tools we need and and managing our time. That's an executive function, and then persisting through difficulty and boredom. That's an executive function, right? Until we reach that goal. So, you know, initiating self starting self directing, being able to coach ourselves forward. These are all executive functions.

Lynn Davison 3:47
That's a lot, isn't it?

Yulia Rafailova 3:51
Yeah, but basically, it's like you know, if you think of an executive, think of a CEO. CEO is like the executive at their company, and we're all CEOs of ourselves and that executive part of our brain, that's what we're talking about.

Lynn Davison 4:06
Yes, yes. So it's the thing that helps us get things done. Exactly. Okay. All right. So, the first question we can start out with is,

How do I get my child to listen to me?

Yulia Rafailova 4:26
This is like the biggest question and I wanted to talk about it first, right? Because this is like what we hear from parents and also what I hear from teens, right. So can I do a very quick introduction? Absolutely.

Okay, so just super quick. So I I'm an immigrant I grew up in a Russian household where, you know, we didn't really understand or talk about, like mental health or ADHD or any of that. So I just want you know, the audience, you know where I'm coming from.

So I grew up undiagnosed ADHD undiagnosed with anxiety, and I really struggled. I really was very scattered.

My mom's nickname for me in Russian meant like somebody with Alzheimer's because she just couldn't figure out why it was so hard for me to do the simplest of things.

Like why kept leaving, you know, if there was a mess on the floor that I mean, someone should go get the broom, right. So she told me go get the broom, and go get the scooper and go clean up your mess. And so I would comply, I would go get it and I would start cleaning up and then some thought would pop into my head and distract me.

And I would say, oh, I need to go do that and I walk away. And I'd leave the mess. And so like 30 minutes later, my mom's like, what's wrong? You know, I thought I told you to sweep the floor and you don't care at all right?

So there's there's all these misconceptions about why this behavior is happening. And so that's why I'm a passionate advocate for kids.

I see the comments and like Carol saying that sounds like me. So that's why I want to do this work because it when we understand the reason why behind this behavior, then we can really help kids to become aware of their behavior.

And so, um, and so typically, I work with a family now, and I don't just work with the child.

Because what I realized was that it's the whole family system that that establishes the environment in the home.

One of the most important things we'll talk about is this language right now. It's called declarative language. And that's where we have I do declare.

So declarative language helps kids like me, right?

I'm still a kid. Come up with some situational awareness. So I can, I can look up and say, Okay, what am I doing, uh, what's going on? And then I can make my own decision about what I need to do.

If my had mom said in that moment, "Hey, I'm noticing that there's like a big pile of trash in the middle of the living room." I wouldn't, I would have probably, you know, I would have been doing whatever I was doing.

So if she had she done that and then paused.

Lynn Davison 7:22
The pause.

Yulia Rafailova 7:25
If she had said that and then paused it may have taken me like a few moments to think to myself, "Oh, did she say something? Okay, what did she say? Oh, big pile of trash living room, but oh, yeah, I was doing that an hour ago and I did a good pivot."

And then my executive brain would imagine myself in the future, you know, going to get the broom. I'm going to clean up and I would have that self directed action. And I would say, Oh, I I'm going to go get the broom. And I'm going to go clean it up. So my executive function went into making that decision for myself. Right? Right.

And that's the part of the definition of executive function to I decided to do that. And in that moment, that would have helped me to build my executive function brain.

By the way, Lynn a really important concept, when we talk about ADHD is that our executive age that's a really important concept to understand.

So if you have a 15 year old for example, their development is about 30% behind in their executive function, and this continues to grow, your brain continues to grow until your mid to late 20s. So, you know, eventually, we catch up, but there's still some lagging skills that we need to really, really be conscious about building so if your kids 15 They're really like 12. And that's really important because you would have different expectations of a 12 year old than a 15 year old.

That doesn't mean parents should like be super permissive and lower their expectations but it means you need to adjust and see what your kid is capable of.

And when you can use, you know, conversation and communication, this type of language, declarative language, to help them become more and more and more aware more often, so that they can start to make decisions for themselves.

By the way, that's where self esteem comes from. That's where competency comes from. That's where growth comes from, is when your kid makes decisions for themselves.

There's an important assumption that parents need to have in those moments, especially the most chaotic moments, which is my kid wants to do well, my kid does care deeply about getting along.

And they do care deeply about being good, put that in quotes, because there's a moral definition of good. 

Our kids very much want to be competent and when we give them an opportunity to think and decide and act even if their decisions aren't great. Even if your actions lead to consequences, in that struggle is where they build their brain and they build their self esteem.

Lynn Davison 10:27
Yep, yeah.

Yulia Rafailova 10:29
So real quick example of declarative language. So instead of saying, for example, get your shoes, right. That's an imperative command. We could say. I'm wondering where your shoes are.

And I'll say one more thing before we continue about declarative language, which is often kids with ADHD, they're very easily triggered. And when we're triggered, we go into fight, flight, or freeze, right? And so sometimes even asking a question that kind of demands a response, that's triggering.

I had a mom asked me or tell me the other day, I had a session with her son. She said, I asked him what you guys talked about today, and he just said, I don't know. And she was like, What? What do you mean you have no, right. What do you mean and so and so my feedback was it's not you know, it's not that we didn't know it's it's that that question demands an answer.

An imperative is the opposite of a declarative, which is, I'm telling you to do something or I'm demanding the answer to the question.

So a declarative question is more rhetorical. It doesn't demand an answer. It just raises awareness in the situation.

And this is what really helps our executive function like hey, I notice all the kids are getting out their lunches, you know, and so it's like, the kid looks around and sees everyone getting their lunches and then he automatically like his body. it's not conscious decision, it's more like, "Oh, I'm gonna go too." Right?

So everything around us, you know, also governs our executive function, the expectations of the environment around us, what's everyone else doing and we co regulate with each other?

Lynn Davison 12:15
Yeah, yeah. I love that co-regulate, and the environment, too. That's so helpful to keep that in mind.

Yulia Rafailova 12:26
Did we spent way too long on this question?

Lynn Davison 12:32
It giving us the foundation. It's giving us the fundamental you know, what are we going to build on next?

Yulia Rafailova 12:37
Carol asks the question, "what should you do next?"

So, two things you use the word should, right, which is like, like, You should do that. So I would definitely steer away from that. And then that question kind of demands an answer.

So I would ask you, Carol to think about, what's a way you can reframe that where you're just building awareness?

So it could be like, I wonder what your next step is going to be? Right?

So if you're just wondering, like, your kid doesn't think like, "oh, no, I have to figure this out right now."

It's like, Oh, I wonder. And so that language, I wonder. That's a good declarative language.

Lynn Davison 13:17
Oh, I love that one. "I wonder what your next step could be." Because that takes a little bit of the pressure off.

Yulia Rafailova 13:26
Nan says she said to her son, "I noticed your bathtub is dirty," he comes back with, "It doesn't matter." Um, I get resistance, right.

And we're gonna model this out anytime I get resistance. It's like, hmmm, interesting. Oh, it doesn't matter. Okay. Tell me more about that. You know, usually that first reaction that's like, it's a no, because that's how our brains are wired.

Lynn Davison 13:52
Yeah, yes, they resist. Yeah, we are going to save energy above all. Yeah, don't don't make me do something.

Yulia Rafailova 14:01
If you asked my mom I was born saying no. Oppositional. Okay, I was the tantrum throwing kid.

And we can't react to that first bit of resistance. If we pause and say nothing. And we kind of let that filter through.

I bet you your kid is going to like really think, "Okay, fine," you know? I just don't want to do it right now. Because nobody wants to like bathe and and during that that's gross.

Yulia Rafailova 14:32
To that point when it's important to talk about, you know, expectations.

And it's important to make very clear to kids that you know, when you live in a family, you're not truly an individual. You're part of a bigger whole.

Yulia Rafailova 14:46
And it's important for kids to feel like they're contributing to the family and to support them to have responsibility.

And it's important for those expectations to be very clear. And for there to be some natural consequences. That and some limits because kids need to experience oftentimes a consequence in order to get through resistance.

Lynn Davison 15:10
Yes, yes. Oh, perfect. Oh, that's so good.

So then the next question comes up with how do I get them to use and practice their new skills? Got it.

Yulia Rafailova 15:24
I will say one more thing about the last question, because this is one of the most important things sorry to go back, but this was this too.

How do I get my kids to listen to me?

Yulia Rafailova 15:32
Listen first. Listen, listen first.

Yulia Rafailova 15:35
They're not going to listen to you if they don't perceive that you can really understand them and that you're really listening. And the way to do that is to be a mirror and reflect back what you're understanding. This is one of the most important things we're never taught. And like had I known this earlier, my life would have been a lot less chaotic, right?

Yulia Rafailova 15:55
Especially when someone is frustrated or in a moment and they're emotional.  They're riding that emotional wave. You know what parents need to be able to hold a really safe space for that where they allow their kids to like melt down and get it out because they need to get it out.

Yulia Rafailova 16:13
And so when you're noticing anything from your kid, you know when they're talking to you, you want to listen first and you want to summarize back to them what your understanding.

It's like, Hey, I noticed you're really frustrated right now. Here's what I'm getting. Like you really are angry about this and you didn't think that was fair. Kids really enjoy when things are fair, right? And they're really pissed when something doesn't seem fair.

Yulia Rafailova 16:37
So so we want to validate you know, how they feel, even if we're not agreeing with it.

And I think this is really hard for parents and they get it. When you hear some your kid saying something that you just it just goes against your values.

And you're thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is not how I want it. You know, this is not what we're teaching you and what if you know when you're an adult, you know, this is how you're going to be on my, I can't even imagine the consequences," right?

So it's so easy to get lost in that in that you know, catastrophizing loop.

Yulia Rafailova 17:10
But if you could just be really, really, really present in the moment and just say, Okay, here's what I'm hearing you say, you know, you give your kid a chance to really process what they said, which they're not really doing. They're just kind of impulsively, like unfiltered, saying what it is.

Yulia Rafailova 17:25
So repeat it back to them, give them an opportunity to digest it and process and think like, Okay, do I really agree with that? Or, or say, no, no, you're not understanding this. This is what I need. And you say, Oh, this is what you mean. They're like, yes.

Yulia Rafailova 17:38
And when you get that, like, when they get to this point where they're like, Oh, finally you get me. Right?

It doesn't mean you agree with everything. In fact, you probably disagree with 90% of what they're saying. But when they feel understood when they feel seen. When they feel safe to be authentic. That's when they're going to tell you the truth.

Yulia Rafailova 17:55
And that's when you're going to say here's my concern. I have a concern about that. And my concern is this has negative effect on you and people around you.

Yulia Rafailova 18:05
And then you pause again.

And you say, "Do you understand what my concern is? And can you summarize it back to me?"

That's how you get your kids to listen. You know, otherwise, you're they're like in fight/flight, or they're just lying to tell you, whatever it is you need to hear so you can get off their back and that's a nervous system reaction.

Lynn Davison 18:24
Yes. Yeah, that's built in. Exactly. We all have it. Exactly.

Yulia Rafailova 18:40

And, you know, as adults, we're better able to regulate that, you know, yeah, yeah. You know, they're just like, right here in the present moment.

Lynn Davison 18:55

And many of our young adults are still there too, because of that lagging. You know, the lagging development that happen as it from a cascading effect of the brain, just not capturing every moment of the learning opportunities. It happens. It happens and we all get uneven development as well, right? We all get it.

Yulia Rafailova 19:02
All right, it's learning which is great.

So I just want to emphasize the executive function is is something that we need to directly teach and it's a learning deficit. It's not like a mental health issue. That's why mental health professionals aren't really trained to deal with the executive function.

Lynn Davison 19:20
What did you say after that?

Yulia Rafailova 19:21
That's when they're authentic. So when kids feel safe when they know that they could say anything to you and you're not going to react, they could be their authentic selves. And that is a deeply seated need that humans have is to be authentic.

And the other need kids have is to be connected right is to get positive attention. So those are like such core human needs that when they when those buckets are full, right? We have enough energy and safety to function.

Lynn Davison 19:51
That energy management piece, I just find that we really have to pay attention to that and the safety needs are important. Because if they're drained, if they're if they don't feel safe, the energy just is drained out of the equation. So yeah, I I've seen that.

Alright, are we ready for the next one?

Yulia Rafailova 20:08
Oh, my gosh, we're still on this question. Yes.

Lynn Davison 20:12
Hi. So how do we get them to use all these wonderful things that we're teaching them?

Yulia Rafailova 20:17
Okay, so this really depends on like, what age your kid is, right? So if if in the comments you want, like, if you want to engage with us, I welcome you, but I'm curious. How old are your kids for those of you who are here so we can tailor the answers. Okay, great. Yeah, and so your audience is young adults, right? Mm hmm. We can focus on young adults.

Yulia Rafailova 20:43
So the question is, how do I get them to use and practice new skills?

Okay, thank you. So, I really firmly believe that parents are the biggest influencers in their kids' lives.

Yulia Rafailova 20:57
And, you know, a coach can certainly come in and do some damage, right, some good. 

The most important person that we want to learn these skills that we're teaching is not the kid it's really the parent.

Yulia Rafailova 21:09
And as a parent, you can guide you can guide through this process, right. So how do I get them to use and practice new skills?

Yulia Rafailova 21:18
You can, you can co regulate.

So one way to do it is using the right language and then working with your kid.

Learning how the dance goes. And if you guys are dance partners, you're the leader right and the leader if you've ever danced, is like a little stiff. And they're kind of pushing and pulling you around, and you're just going with the flow, right?

Yulia Rafailova 21:43
So that's very similar to the coaching and to parenting where, where you're kind of guiding your kid and you want to get them to follow along with you and collaborate.

Yulia Rafailova 21:54
And so there's something called, you know, assigning roles of competency, for example. And so you can as you're working together, you can say, well, you know, doing something that's really difficult, it's a new skill for them and they're way outside their comfort zone and they're they might be like oh and that's a good thing, because you're challenging them.

Yulia Rafailova 22:14
And what you want to do is like, you don't want to challenge them like a tyrant because then they're going to associate learning that skill with feeling really crappy, right?

Yulia Rafailova 22:25
So, first of all, like let's play, right new skills, executive function. The best way to learn that is through free play. And I'll give you this example, imagine one of my neighbor kids, he's like a genius. He will take his parents couch apart, and he'll reconfigure it until like 10 different designs. Yeah, right. Right. Like, okay, that's executive function. Right?

Yulia Rafailova 22:50
That's him self directing through play, and creating an image of something and solving problems as he goes and persisting through frustration. Why? Because he really friggin wants to.

Yulia Rafailova 23:04
And so that's where motivation comes from. Right? And that's what executive literally, that's the best way to build executive function and learn new skills through play. So if we want to help kids or young adults do this, the first principle is like, you know, like, let's play.

Yulia Rafailova 23:21
Because it's a trial and error. game and you need to feel safe enough to like say, I don't know if this is gonna work, but, you know, like, let's give it a shot.

Yulia Rafailova 23:32
So use and practice new skills. It's like, hey, you've never washed a sink full of dishes before. Why don't you stand here and I'll hand off you know, the dishes and you can dry them, right? And now you're hanging out and you're doing the dishes together. And it's a it's a way to connect.

Yulia Rafailova 23:49
Or maybe they're really grumpy. And maybe, you know, you just let them stand there and be grumpy. Because you know, what we what we want kids to do is to figure out how to be strong enough to do the things that are hard. Right?

Yulia Rafailova 24:05
And so tolerating boredom. That's a new skill. You want your kid to practice, right? Because boredom feels like frickin torture. We have ADHD, and you're gonna do anything you can to avoid it. So how do you get your kid to build executive function?

Yulia Rafailova 24:21
Help them be bored. Right? Limit their use of social media and internet so that they can sit there and and and do other things. Right?

Yulia Rafailova 24:32
But like don't just leave them to their own devices. Help them figure out one or two or three activities that they really enjoy, and, and kind of scaffold their day a little bit.

Yulia Rafailova 24:43
But you want to push them outside their comfort zone, and just do it one little tiny bit at a time so it's not too scary. And then each time they try something new and they're like, Oh, I did that. And we celebrate every little victory.

Yulia Rafailova 24:58
We celebrate even when, like the outcome was not great. We're like, well, you gave it a really good shot and I'm really proud of you. That was really sc

Lynn Davison 25:17
And you segued right into the next question beautifully, which is, how do I convince them that the chaos from being outside their comfort zone is worth it?

Unknown Speaker 25:25
This is where we get to doodle. When Lynn and I looked at this question, our first reaction was like, you can't convince them, okay. Yeah. talk them into any new ideas. You're not going to lecture or you know, whatever. You can't convince them. Like by talking.

Yulia Rafailova 25:43
We have to create a series of experiences that give them the experience of navigating outside their comfort zone, right. So we want to put a little pressure.

Yulia Rafailova 25:56
One way you know, is you could share your stories, right, that goes a certain way, but oftentimes, Lynn, doesn't this happen where parents are telling a story or they're saying a comment, but there's an agenda behind it?

Lynn Davison 26:09
Yeah. Oh, always.

Yulia Rafailova 26:12
And my kids are really good at picking up on that. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

Lynn Davison 26:18
yeah. Okay. Mom. Okay. That was the last century. This is the 21st Century, Mom.

Yulia Rafailova 26:31
You don't even know how the world works now, right. This is an agenda queen. Right? It's really hard to like, really check in with yourself and ask yourself like, am I do I really have an agenda here?

Yulia Rafailova 26:45
And this is my personality type. Like I want to control everything and everyone around me just to feel safe, right? So I grew up being like this really bossy, aggressive kid in my family. Whenever I noticed something was off. I would just throw a huge tantrum.

Lynn Davison 27:00
We have one of this in our family.

Yulia Rafailova 27:09
Okay, so let's model out. This is kind of the the topic of the day right like what I wish parents would know, and and getting through chaos. Getting through resistance and getting to a higher level of functioning, right, so let's map it out.

Yulia Rafailova 27:26
So I'm going to use my whiteboard. So the first thing I want to I want to share is, is what change does not look like. right. Because we're talking about building new skills. Right?

Yulia Rafailova 27:36
So oftentimes, the idea is like, Oh, we're going to start working on this and it's just going to get better because we're working on it. Right. So it's when when things don't get better right away. We're questioning like, Am I doing the right thing? You know, does this really work? And then sometimes we we give up, right? Because we don't see improvement right away. And then we go back to our old old habits.

Lynn Davison 27:59
Or we get distracted. It's so easy to get distracted and not keep the focus on that important thing that needs to change.

Unknown Speaker 28:08
Exactly. And so when we're talking about you know, build, like, building executive function, we're really talking about learning. Learning a new skill, right? And it doesn't look like this. Like it's not a linear process to learn a new skill. It's like, oh, it just gets better and better and better over time. And then I ended up here. That's, you know, if that's your assumption, then you're going to run into a lot of a lot of trouble. So you want to be really realistic about it.

Yulia Rafailova 28:35
And we could use the example of, you know, how do you help your kid build a new skill? Well, that's like teaching them to play the piano. You know, it's like that's gonna take a lot of little tiny steps to get to the point where you know, not only can you read the sheet music, right, but you can also like, control the fingers and, and do all that complex, complex stuff. And we know when we're, and so that's what teaching executive function is, right? It's like learning a new instrument.

Yulia Rafailova 29:04
Yeah, like learning how to read. Yeah, right. Like, if parents or teachers treated executive function like reading, they would never expect to like have a conversation with a kid and say, Okay, this is what we expect, okay? And like, this is what we want you to do. And then the next morning they wake up and you're like, Well, you haven't done it yet. You said you're gonna do it. It's like, No, dude. They don't have the skills. It's not that they won't do it. It's that they literally can't. It's they don't, they do not have that skill and it's takes a lifetime to build a skills, right, like we're all still learning.

Lynn Davison 29:44
I love what Ross Greene says when he says unsolved problems is when lagging skills show up.

Yulia Rafailova 29:49
Exactly. Yeah. Makes sense. Whenever you see chaos, right? That's like an indication that there's this unsolved problem that we keep happening over and over and over again. And we can't really fix it as it's happening, right? Because by the time it happens, that's way too late. Right?

Yulia Rafailova 30:09
So we have to anticipate that this is going to happen again, and we have to figure out all the things that lead up to that problem. And then you go backwards. From that, you know, point of explosion or whatever. And you will see there's a pattern that leads up to that and it happens over and over again. So we have to start before it happens the next time right and develop some awareness here.

Yulia Rafailova 30:33
So this is you know, so one more thing about like learning skills, right? Learning executive function skills, just like learning how to swim, learning how to ride a bike, learning how to play the piano. It's complex, it takes, you know, when you're learning the piano, you don't you don't say like okay, here's Tchaikovsky symphony, and we're gonna play both hands.

Yulia Rafailova 30:53
It's like no, that's way too big of a step. Right? Right. It's like, here's, here's middle C, and your thumb goes on middle C, right, like, right. That's the basic. That's step one. And then the kid hits the middle C with their thumb and you're like, Whoa, yeah. Look how powerful you are. You made a big sound.

Lynn Davison 31:18
Look, when we did the Suzuki method with my daughter on Viola, and it was just wonderful how they broke it down. And they would you know, they would scaffold and then they teach, teach, teach and then they take the scaffolding away, like they put the tapes on the fret. That's where they knew where to put it. Well, she doesn't need that anymore. She knows exactly the muscle memory that was all there. But she needed to be scaffold and up to that point.

Lynn Davison 31:42
I never could get the bow grip, right. I tried to learn how to play it and my my little finger just didn't but they have a little thing now where you actually set I mean, it was beautiful. And it was all built. They taught me more about parenting than I learned anywhere else. That's what was learning from the Suzuki method. It was wonderful.

Yulia Rafailova 32:00
That's brilliant. Lynne That's brilliant. Yeah. And so let's let's look at that and say like, you couldn't have learned that just by watching someone else do it. No, you have to get in there.

Lynn Davison 32:11
I was in there. I was in there trying to play that stringed instrument. The people that can play them are miracle workers. I don't know how you know, think of it! the amount of repetition!

Lynn Davison 32:20
But that's what we're trying to that's what we're expecting our kids to navigate now that they've moved out of school, where things are pretty defined by them and us by the school or us to young adulthood which is where they define everything.

Lynn Davison 32:33
They decide what they're going to do, when they're going to go, how much money they're going to make, what kind of friends they're going to have. They just that's a big leap and that's why this is such a challenge: moving from schooling to young adulthood.

Yulia Rafailova 32:45
Absolutely. And I mean, gosh, it's a challenge for people who you know, are neurotypical with abundance of resources and I mean, it's built a challenge, right? So my heart really goes out to people who, who really struggle, you know.

Yulia Rafailova 33:00
They deserve all the patience and compassion in the world, but that doesn't mean we infantilize. No, it means we got to push them to their limit and and keep them in that territory outside their comfort zone, right? But I want to do that through inspiring through encouraging.

Yulia Rafailova 33:20
So it's like what's the biggest influence a parent can have on their kid? It's like, I believe in you. I am confident that not only are you going to figure this out, but you can tolerate the difficulty.

Yulia Rafailova 33:31
I know. If you fall you're going to get back up and I'm here for you. I got your back like, we all need just one person that has our back. Because that fuels us. Yeah.

Yulia Rafailova 33:43
And, you know, if you're raising a young adult, like nobody wants to be told what to do. Even if we want to do the thing.

Lynn Davison 33:53
So what we have to notice is what they want. Yes, that's an important thing to be aware of, because that's where we're going to get the most leverage because that's where they're gonna invest their time.

Yulia Rafailova 34:03
Exactly. And then it becomes you know, it's not why don't you just do this dude. And then it's like, Hey, this is what you want. I'm here to support you.

Yulia Rafailova 34:14
And I'm going to challenge you, right? Because I want you to get that thing and it's going to be hard. And and you need to anticipate that this is going to kick your butt. Yep. And then it's going to feel really good.

Lynn Davison 34:27
When you're done. Yes. When you've gotten there, yeah. You'll have more confidence in what you can do like that thing.

Yulia Rafailova 34:36
Let's look at the problem. The problem is that kids with executive dysfunction, they really just live in this present moment. It's really hard for them to do this thing called future thinking. Right? Right.

Yulia Rafailova 34:50
So future baking is really hard. And this is like where motivation lies and once you get it done, that's going to be in the future. Right? Right. And hopefully you're gonna feel like well, I can't draw backwards at all. That was supposed to be a happy face.

Yulia Rafailova 35:05
You carry their gratification, right. And so why does your kid give up so quickly? It's because right now, this feels really frustrating.

Lynn Davison 35:14
Yes, that's the word.

Yulia Rafailova 35:17
Imagine themselves getting it in the future, right? Because this ability to think ahead and see yourself in the future, like that's an executive function skill, right?

Yulia Rafailova 35:26
And then they don't really have episodic memory, right. So they can't really remember a time in the past where they felt this way and persevered and got through it. I'm sure there's plenty of times that has happened, but it's really hard for them to access those memories.

Yulia Rafailova 35:42
And in fact, it's a whole lot easier for them to access all the negative times all the failures, maybe they're like, Man that I'm never gonna be able to do this. I may as well give up now because I don't want to try really really hard and then fail.

Lynn Davison 36:00
Mm hm. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. We just do we just do our brain goes to it. It has that negative bias where it's looking for why do I need to learn from that, that bad situation so that I don't, you know, die. Right.

Yulia Rafailova 36:17
Right. And so I was a little distracted by Eileen's comment, but I think your comment, it's like, what's the balance of compassion and accountability?

Yulia Rafailova 36:28
And it's like, well, well, first of all, like, there's no time when there shouldn't be compassion, right? There's always compassion. And there's no time there shouldn't be accountability. There's, there's always compassion and there's always accountability. And I think that's the magic sauce. Right? It's it's unique both all the time. It's like kids need way more accountability, but they also need sometimes more scaffolding. So if missing a doctor's appointment, you know, is a recurring problem. It's like cool, let's look at it right. Let's look at all the things that have that lead up to missing it. Let's pick it apart. Let's do that with some compassion. Like, I'm not going to be you know, obviously you might be frustrated and you lose money, right? There's a consequence, but what's a way that your kid can either pay you back for that? Right, like earn money to do or you know, who scheduled the appointment, right? If you did all the work and schedule the appointment, and then they just have to show up. Well, maybe get them involved in that process so that they have more ownership, and it's their choice, or what system are they missing? Right? That's going to help them remember stuff.

Lynn Davison 37:40
Three alarms. That's what you gotta have three of them. You got to have the phone, you've got to have it you know, whatever. It is the three ways of remembering you

Yulia Rafailova 37:48
watch. Yes, you need redundancy in your system. Absolutely. Absolutely. Because you you know, you can't rely on the brain. Because the working memory is like that desktop, it just shuts off because you know, when kids like mess up, they really feel it. Oh, man, they feel like they know that when they're making a mistake and they feel really bad and they understand like, do this is making sure the people around me really upset and that like that's a killer, you know, because you want to be competent. And when you hear your kids say like, I don't care, you know, that's like a defense mechanism. Yeah, you know. So it's complicated on so let's model

Lynn Davison 38:38
that. Yeah, thanks, Eileen for that because that's really good. And that's Yeah, yeah, she like was a car accident until she had to pay me back and couldn't car until she did. We didn't get the learning happening but didn't learn.

Yulia Rafailova 38:53
And you know, and you can't have a consequence that feels like you know, a tie a tie radical dictatorship, like punishing you away from this behavior. Like that doesn't work. No consequence needs to be delivered, like with a lot of compassion, and it's like, Sorry,

Lynn Davison 39:09
dude. This is the way I'm going to roll for a whole semester. But we have that opportunity to talk in the car. So you know, I didn't but she didn't have she couldn't drive anywhere for three months until she earned the money back and yeah, it was a tough but it worked. Now that she hasn't had other accidents since then, but they're on her mind.

Yulia Rafailova 39:33
So they took young adults especially they want to feel like they have ownership yet, right.

Lynn Davison 39:40
salutely Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So good. All right. Let's go to the next question. Because we got 20 more minutes and probably, we've got five, four more questions.

Yulia Rafailova 39:49
Okay. Why don't Is it possible to Okay, that's a great question. That's exactly right. Yeah. Chaos with confidence is the result of what? Yeah, okay. So that brings up a really interesting question because, you know, our thoughts, create our emotions, create our actions, right and let you talk about this a lot. Yes. Well, it's like what we're thinking creates what we're feeling and then we operate with that framework. Oh, speaking of which, I need to plug in my my computer right now or else people die.

Lynn Davison 40:28
Welcome, Eileen. Thanks for the question. I think it's a really good one. And I love the double answer. You gotta have both scaffold action and the accountability. Yeah. Yes, absolutely.

Yulia Rafailova 40:41
And then when they take ownership, right, it's like they can see themselves in the future going to the doctors. Because they're setting it up. So the more preparation you do, the more you're preparing yourself in your imagination to do it. And that's where executive function starts. It's in the imagination and the behavior comes from executing that image.

Lynn Davison 41:06
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, definitely. It really is. Yeah, money, you know, and it's just like, it's not, you know, 50 100 bucks. 200 bucks it can be when you miss an appointment. So oh, 75 Ouch, ouch. Well, that I did. Yeah. And that one back. Am I Yeah, yeah. Okay, Nancy, my adult daughter with ASD, and lunched with emotional dysregulation as is very common. Is there still hope that she can develop stronger? Exactly, absolutely. We have to believe that this is possible. And that we can find our the way that works for them. Because it's not always going to work the way that it works for somebody else. It we really have to custom create mission together and try it and see if it works. And when it does, we we celebrate and then when it doesn't we pivot. Yes, but it can be done. Yes,

Yulia Rafailova 42:08
absolutely. And, you know, I struggle with emotional regulation all the time. It takes a lot of work. And one thing that's important to you know, to teach young people is like to anticipate that things that when the challenge is coming, like hey, if you're going into this situation, like not anticipating that it's going to feel frustrating or difficult or emotionally you know, maybe scary but you know, front loading that like getting stealing yourself for it and anticipating it is like one of the best ways to get in there. Because what we all need to learn as we grow. It's like we're we're stronger than we know. We're like you're way more powerful than you could ever imagine. And you don't even you don't even know what you're capable of. Right, right. And so we have to firmly dig into that and believe it and and understand that like we can tolerate emotional distress. Yes, we can. Yes. That's why I love your emails. Lynn because the mornings I wake up and I'm like, I don't know how I'm going to get through today. I'm just so anxious sometimes in the morning. I do not want to get out of bed. You know it's really hard some days but I'll grab my phone and it's a Thursday morning, an email morning and they're like well woke a spark and also you know what, yeah, I feel crappy and also

Lynn Davison 43:43
when it's okay as you say, you know, peace Yes, yes. Yes. Every morning with anxiety, I think it's a characteristic. Many of our adult young adults, many of them they just wake up and they're, you know, worried about what's gonna happen next.

Yulia Rafailova 44:00
Yeah. And you know what, that's a legitimate worry. Yeah. Life is hard, man.

Lynn Davison 44:09
Yes, and especially when you're trying to do something new like decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. I mean, that just blows whenever I you know, whenever we bring that up the way you just see the wave of pour over my daughter's head. It was like she just can't even you know, we were talking about what major you want to have. And it was just, and we had to just say, Okay, wait a second here. We're gonna slow this weight on and we're gonna break apart. Let's look at a list of classes and you decide which one looks most interesting to you. And that's where we started and she's taken several courses in psychology, and that is the thing she's, she's really into like the professor and that matters. Yeah, yeah. So she found a professor and she just found that Professor versus what they thought so but the slug breaking it down is what really, really helps with anxiety.

Yulia Rafailova 45:04
Yeah, like if the first you know, so there's this great quote, like, if they're overwhelming. The first step is like too big. So like, so. So it's like so some of the language is like, Well, okay, so that's 200. Would you be willing to do this? Yes. Would you be willing to like like, if they can't write an essay, you know, would you be willing to write a paragraph? No. Okay. Well, what about like sentence? What about like one word? And so we pull back and we meet them where they are and then we've got together forward right? point there, you know, like they can they can move on without us to confidence and competency. skill area, right. Let's talk about chaos. And we I know we have about 15 minutes. So Virginia Satir is who developed she was basically the first family therapist, and she wrote a lot of the initial literature and she, her core belief was that everybody can learn and everybody no matter what, no matter what your situation, no matter where you are, right now, you understand this process of how to learn and how cheating happens? Formation, right because that's really what we want. Then you will be able to navigate this with more certainty and aggregating uncertainty and ambiguity. That's okay. And so if we can zoom out and see the big picture, it really helps us to be in the chaos freedom mean you know that like, everything's going wrong, and it's catastrophe, caviar essence is between us is good. So what does that look like? So we already said what it doesn't look like right? It doesn't look like that straight shot up. So what does learning skills actually look like that? And this is what it looks like. It looks like this curve. Okay. So I'm just gonna build on top of this so we could be getting more and more understanding. So there's, there's a Y axis and an X axis, right? In the y axis is productivity. And the x axis is time. So when we look at the change curve, and I'll label it because my best teachers always said Don't forget to label your, your glass. Okay. So this is the change curve. So what do you notice? And, you know, when you're starting out, is that your claim, you know, this way that you did? First, and then you go up? And I was speaking about when it as I was falling asleep last night, and I thought it just kind of looks like a swimming pool. It was like a diving board writing. supposed to jump into the water and then like swing through and then climb up, climb up the wall. Like, I like that analogy.

Yulia Rafailova 48:28
Because that's what it feels like.

Yulia Rafailova 48:31
And imagine, no, you're starting your comfort zone. Right? All of us, all of us experience model all the time. So, I hope this answers the other questions, right? Because questions are just like they all fit into this model. We all are in our comfort zone, right. And so we started and we have to we want to get up here right? So this is a new skill. And so when we're in our comfort zone, leaving that comfort zone, so scary, right the first thing we come up against is like that's a built into the into the efficiency. So if you've change or a new skill, you better anticipate some reason, right? Cuz that's your brain trying to protect us and say, no, no, no. Yeah. I just want to read here consequence rooms plan position,

Lynn Davison 49:39
okay. I get that respond like that. And when we're not physically around you it is harder. Yes, it is harder. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah.

Yulia Rafailova 49:58
Okay, so I'm going to try to rush through this rough comfort zone, right and this is called a foreign element. So sometimes it's like this, this, you know, our comfort zone is so comfortable in time because whatever patterns that are, in our comfort zone, they're usually leading to some pain, but we're going to take that pain because at least that's predictable. Right? But at least that's predictable. But then something usually happens. Now, let's say this external pressure that sticking you out of your comfort zone is is a new expectation or new responsibility or you know, and you realize I can no longer comfort. Okay, so this process kind of happens automatically. When when there's an instruction to our group. We necessarily, it's because imagine you're standing here on the diving board, and like, how deep is that pool anyway? And how good of a swimmer am I and then once I swim, I have to climb up this wall to say, that's scary. Right? Um, so, you know, how do you navigate resistance? You will, first you want to fix it. Like scary monster standing in your way. You have to be able to look at it. And and so I experienced this the other day where I was just really really struggling and I realized like there's something I was doing that was really causing me a lot of pain and I needed to change that and that was terrifying. And then for a couple days, I was very dysregulated. And, and luckily I have really good friends. And a support team, right? That's so special. I was able to say like, Hey, I need your help. Good. Yeah, like we need to feel safe in order to take this big of a risk, right. So the environment within which change happens has to be a positive environment. We have to feel that passion will help us and that it's okay. Like, you know that they're going to be here with us that we can like I just want to emphasize like we're not individually, like connected to each other and we need each other and we need to be able to ask for help. And like that's one of the most important ones in developing relationships we have are the ones that are going to guide us through the chaos then because I tried doing this on your own. So that's actually I'm glad you did that. Because like how do we help them purchase just like we're here. We're here and we ask, we're also we're not them. We have to step back and allow them to experience that right. So as soon as actually as soon as this disrupter happens to your comfort zone, you're in chaos. Because now you're in uncharted territory, and your brain the resistance is like don't go don't go.

Lynn Davison 52:49
So good. Yes, right. Yes. So chaos now um,

Yulia Rafailova 52:57
you know, like this is really scary and your productivity is going to dip down. Yeah, this is we're preparing for teachers might get scared. It's like, well, 20 missing assignments, you know, an extra proof, right? But this is an extra fee and we have to, you know, like solve the problem immediately. Right? But it's like, no, we have to we have to let you know the person experienced chaos and develop resiliency. Yes. And the way to do that is like hey, man, I see are really struggling.

Lynn Davison 53:31
Yes. Yeah.

Yulia Rafailova 53:34
Yeah. And, and everything because if we can tolerate chaos, right, if we can help them to tolerate chaos, we get to this moment here.

Lynn Davison 53:44
Where there's a new idea. Right, right. Right, a new idea, a new skill. Right. We still think

Yulia Rafailova 53:54
that the skill is just it's really just the idea because you're like oh, yeah, oh, I really need a calendar to help me organize my day because, you know, when over here, the parents like, well, you need a calendar because this calendar you need and once you get through this chaos, and you suffer that consequence, like man, you're like, Yeah, I really need a new right.

Lynn Davison 54:24
Yeah, I need to set up alarms. I need to have some a reminder on my, you know, when we are in the morning

Yulia Rafailova 54:34
your mom is telling you to do that your young adult you'd be like get out of my face. I'm not doing that to do but if they can come to that idea on their own and the language we can use here that hey, man, I noticed you're really struggling.

Lynn Davison 54:49
What's up?

Yulia Rafailova 54:51
What do you think you can do a little differently next time to avoid pain. And let them really think through

Lynn Davison 55:03
or what would work better? I don't work. Yeah. Fantastic. Yes. The OtterBox. They've come up with crazy ideas way better.

Yulia Rafailova 55:18
And as a coach, you know, the tough part is like, I can't just give you a new system and say, Hey, this is what I use. Right? Because I had to figure out what works for me. And so now we get to this. We have a new way. By the way when we allow this process to happen. This is all happening subconsciously. This is like your body is doing the work for you. Like you're kicking when something's wrong and like that doesn't feel good. I don't want to feel this way anymore. I'm so like, you're you're automatically seeking out solutions. What you need in that moment is someone to say like, Hey, man, you are struggling and you are strong and you can get your back. No, you know who I can support you. You know what it is that you're doing here to help so let's be collaborative partners here. Consultant right. Now the relationship is really important, right? Because like if, if your kid and you have this dynamic where you've been already, everyday for like three years this is going to take some care. So you have to constantly be returning to part of the language is like hey man, yesterday I got so frustrated when you miss your doctor's appointment. I really blew up at you and you did not deserve that like me not being able to manage my own emotions. And that is not how I want to be with you. Like, you know, I want to make sure like, you feel safe to talk to me and I'm working really hard on that right to modeling, self reflection, you're modeling or modeling ownership. You're modeling communication and you're repairing the relationship.

Lynn Davison 56:58
You're modeling the struggles, okay, that we can struggle and the struggle is how. Yeah, and I love it. What you're sharing is that with my son take walks when it gets warmer. And then you know, when I say I blew it, and he said, Mom, I know you're doing your best to keep

Yulia Rafailova 57:18
that you know when I was freaking out and I called my friend and we did all this like inner critic work. We all have really loud inner critic. Most of our resistance is starting critic telling in our head really loud, right like you like, do you think you could do this like Who did you know you're smart enough to do that? You better stay in your comfort zone. Right? So um, yeah, like that's hard. And so when I was talking to my friend, I said, You know what, thank you so much. I guess I just have to figure out what the solution is. Something so profound. And he said you have to figure out with a solution. Just give yourself Self Compassion right now, right? And, and and just just love that view. That's, that's like it or whatever, and just accept it. And the ideas man, they're gonna come and he was so right. Yep. And so the most important thing when they're navigating chaos, right, is is we need an environment that is safe and the parents recreate that environment.

Lynn Davison 58:27
With us be

Yulia Rafailova 58:31
I'm the director thinks that's quote, you know, it's not a guarantee that we're all gonna make it up here and oftentimes, like, you know,

Lynn Davison 58:38
what is this model really looks like this like,

Yulia Rafailova 58:42
like, man, it's really chaotic because it like goes all over. Wow. Yeah. I doubt that. Some of us like we stay in our comfort zone, the status quo. We didn't really learn that lesson and integrate the new skill. But if we can get to the point where we do, and then we can practice the new idea. This is trial and error. This is where you're going to be kicking your butt. You're going to keep climbing up the wall, every step. Every step has an exponential return at this point in motion. One step I get like to two things up or three things up. More and more and more and more, until I reach my new comfort zone. And this is a new level of competency this new thing that used to be really hard back here it now feel easier. And now we don't have to put so much effort into doing this one thing. And now I feel proud and confident. I learned this used to be Oh, it's better. Yep, I can do the next. Change is a constant. And it goes up and up and we develop skills. baby step, baby step.

Lynn Davison 59:53
Yep. Yep. incrementality is really yeah, that is such a great summary of what we've all been experiencing with our autistic young adults. And in my own life, I get this all the time. And so it's good to be aware of me experiencing it so that I look at them I can see myself now. I have even more compassion for both of us.

Yulia Rafailova 1:00:17
Exactly. Exactly. And I want to say, you know that this can happen in 30 seconds. Yes. Yes. It's like, clarity. Yes. Like I'm watching TV and I'm exhausted and I remember crap, dishes to wash and I'm feeling resistance like, but I'm thinking ahead to the future. And I'm thinking to myself, you're not gonna wake up tomorrow and have that sink dirty because you're anxious in the morning and you're grumpy and mornings don't feel great. And you're going to really be angry at your night self for the damn dishes. And so that's my that's my coach. You know, telling me the future is this and remember last time we were feeling the same and you thought like there's no way I was gonna get through this but then like 30 seconds after you started you just went with it. Yeah, was built like this routine and the hardest part is getting started. Then that's where you want to coach yourself and say like, well, it's only going to suck for like a minute, then it'll be great. And then I want to feel so so good that I did that.

Lynn Davison 1:01:21
It's only for a minute. That one day night when

Lynn Davison 1:01:30
I get going Oh, I love seeing thank you so much. Yulia. Wow. Thank you. Thank you so helpful. I love your language on this and totally identify with the people. You know the comments and and this whole experience was so reinforcing. Thank you. Thank you. Really appreciated and I will be transcribing this. transcribing this and making it available to everyone is so we, you know, we can go back and read some of those great phrases that Yulia used but only among we can use their thoughts and have that sense of humor and fun for them to chaos and that was a lesson for me because I'm not very good at making things fun. So maybe that's my own self coaching right there is that I gotta find the fun in it. And that better so appreciate it.

Yulia Rafailova 1:02:35
Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm happy to come back. Anytime.

Lynn Davison 1:02:38
Oh, you're invited. Alright, everybody. Yulia can be found at mindfulleducation.com In mindful has two L's.

Thank you again and yeah, come back and again, thank you.