#65 | Summary of Dr. Sharon Saline's 12 GREAT Ideas

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Good morning. I am so excited to be here today to share with you a quick recap of Dr. Sharon Saline's 12 Great ideas. I've outlined them in my coach's notes download. I'll put the link here that you can download so that you have a quick reference to what it is that she offers we should consider in our parenting of our autistic young adults.

She's amazing. Her experience her education, and her experience as both a professional psychologist and a mom just gives her insights that are amazing. On top of that she's an amazingly prolific writer and creator of videos that are such a fabulous resource for us. So I'm really excited to be hosting a q&a with her this Friday, May 13 at 11 at noon, at The Art of Adulting and I hope to see you there. So here's a summary of what the 12 great ideas are.

#1 Focus on What's Working and Enhance It

She first suggests that we focus on what's working and enhance it. My best suggestion here is to take the time to write down what are your autistic young adults strengths? And what are some lagging, some unsolved problems which are indicators of lagging skills. If you just divide that list into three areas, what kinds of things do they do that support their energy, create good work and nurture relationships, connections love with both themselves, learning and others.

If you can just take the time to notice what is working and of course it's going to bring up what are the areas that need help. And so now you got a list and then you can decide which one thing you know that you want to work on. But in the meantime, celebrate the other wonderful things that your autistic young adult is doing and make sure that they understand in behavioral terms what you're noticing, and how amazing you feel that is. The more we can reinforce what's working with them helps them do it more.

And with us. It helps us recognize the progress that we are indeed making. We just tend to focus. Our brain is that way. It's going to find what's going wrong. It's going to evaluate and compare it to what it thinks that should be. Like that's just the way our brains work. We can't stop that.

But we can drive our brains to notice what is working and I love that she starts out with in this summary that I did have her presentation at The Executive Function Online Summit, which is the only summit that I promote because it's so exceptional. That's where I became familiar with her work and I transcribed and I took her transcription of her presentation there and created these 12 notes from it. And I pulled in all the other things that she's done. And I mean a sample of all the other things she's done because she's done a lot.

#2 Our brains develop from the front to back and inside out.

The second great idea is that our brains develop from the back to the front and inside out. What that means is that our brain that keeps our breathing, the anatomical part of our brain that just keeps us breathing and and digesting and doing all those things is the first to develop.

The second is the mammalian brain. That's the limbic system. That's the fight flight or freeze part that's trying to keep us safe, efficient, and connected to our tribe. That's our default motivation is in that middle part.

Then the prefrontal cortex the part in the front is you know, where you slap your forehead and go Why didn't I think of that? That's where we're making connection with our cognitive piece and that creates the judgment, which is how we decide what we're going to do or not do or feel or not feel or think or not think. And so that's what she suggests.

We want to make sure that we're recognizing that our kids really truly are doing the best they can with the developments that they've had so far. So just knowing a little bit about that, you know, helps us understand that, okay, why is this part not, you know, not getting them, you know, why did they do that? 

Lynn Davison 6:49
Why did they think that? And the answer is it's still developing it will continue to develop and there is some lagging development that's occurring. Because that middle part that mammalian brain that fight flight or freeze brain, in most of our kids is on fire most of the time, so you know, when they're anxious and scared, it's really not a good place for them to learn.

And then happens so often that they have missed some opportunities along the way to learn some of the things that we'd like for them to know. And that's why when we evaluate where they are, we compare them against their not autistic peers. Then we see what the gap is and we want it you know, we want to help them close that gap. It makes perfect sense that they are where they are is perfectly normal.

And we want to recognize that it's our evaluation of it that says that it's not normal. And that's what they mean when you watch videos and you listen to autistic people who say that they really are in a world where people just don't get them. It's kind of hostile. It's a you know, there's a lot of myths about laziness and all of that that happened around evaluating where an autistic person is in life and what they're doing and it just it's really helpful to understand that it's because of the brain they were born with.

We're the one you know, and other people and non autistic people are making these judgments and so they're kind of, you know, in a hostile world. So that's her second point is just to notice that it's a it's an anatomical difference in it creates different hormones and all those other things that are involved in brain and brain development, and we just need to become aware of that.

#3 Pills don't teach skills.

The third hurt third grade idea is that pills don't teach skills. I see this a lot on Facebook. Do you think I shouldn't have my kid take this you know, or our doctor recommended that medicine? Is that going to take care of the problem? And the answer is okay. I am very grateful for the medicines that my kids take. Some take more than others some work better for it for for some of my kids and others. There isn't a one size fits all prescription for what is going to solve these and it's not going to solve the problems anyway.

The skills are going to help them solve their problems. So the pills can help and I'm grateful for them and we still have to be, you know the coach in their lives that helps them learn more of this encourages them to learn the skills that warns them if they're not learning the skills, what could happen, and to make it all safe for them to do both of those, you know, be who they are in our presence so that they do consult us for the solutions that they're looking for. In their lives. Even if sometimes they tell us they don't like it. They still like to be able to consult with us.

#4 5Cs: Self-control, Compassion, Collaboration, Consistency and Celebration

Her fourth grade idea is these five C's they are so spot on self control. That's ours. Okay, well, they've got some self control to do too. But compassion as well. That's where we understand more of where it is that they are and I think it's so helpful to not only really just listen, listen, listen, but also hear other people's points of view other autistic people that are ahead in their journey that are older than our kids are.

Just listen to their words. About what they struggled with, and we get a much better concept of what it is that our kids are struggling with and why.

And you know, sometimes these artistic people that do these videos are so vulnerable and so articulate, and so willing to share, we've got to listen. There are the lessons. There's so many there that we can that we can benefit from. There's some really good people out there, you know, like Hannah Gadsby, the comedian and then there's this neurodivergent rebel on Facebook. I mean, there's so many out there I can't even you know the Asperger asked the guys out in Washington, Asperger Experts. They really are so helpful to me to get a better understanding of because they articulate loud and clear what it was, the struggles they had when they were growing up and I really want to listen. So that's where that compassion comes from.

And then the collaboration is let's solve the problem together.

Lynn Davison 11:07
You are not alone. I don't have all the answers. In fact, I am going to default to you. Because listen, we want to try what you think is going to work first because the more we practice what with what you think is best, the more confidence you're going to have that you can come up with a solution that works.

And we're here as your support. We are here because we love you. And we want to see some things happen.

Now, that doesn't mean that we're not occasionally going to warn that if they keep going down a certain path. It's not going to be the one that's going to create results that they want to have in their life, but that's being apparent we're good with that. Being consistent without to that consistency of here's our approach, and we're going to stick with that approach because we know that that you're the one that's running your life, especially now that you've aged out of school.

Then the celebration of oh my gosh, you know, look at how many wonderful things you're doing those five C's, I think our golden then our last,

#5 We have to use cues.

The fifth ideas that she really encouraged us us is to have our kids notice the cues. What she's talking about there is something that I cannot believe how often I see checklists in real world. Real real world applications.

One of my favorite doctors and authors is Dr. Atul Gawande. H e wrote a book called THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO.

So in just in case your young adult is saying I don't need checklists anymore, I'm grown up, have them just watch one of his videos on his TED talks about how they use checklists and how he was part of the World Health Organization. He's a surgeon and he advocated using checklists in birthing centers in all kinds of places and how maternal mortality and infant mortality dropped using these checklists is a really moving story.

So this you know, if we had a bad experience with checklists when they were younger, or if they rejected them when they're younger, we have to encourage them to revisit this tool, because it is also the number one tool in quality processes that they use in manufacturing units. 

I've learned a little bit about the quality movement, the Edward Deming and Juran, those guys, they say, checklists are one of them. So you know, these are things that we're going to use throughout our adulthood.

So we have to give them some cues to the kinds of you know, because we're just plain busy, we need tools, like a checklist and one of my favorite ones that I'm using these days is the Google task list. It's an app. It's so simple to use, it attaches right to their Gmail account, and they put it right on their phone and they can just tap on that and they know what they need to do next.

And I teach about how to divide what they need to do next into the 10 domains in The Art of Adulting. And you've got to learn these because it takes that huge, you know, huge elephant in the room of how do we approach creating the life we love and divides it down into parts, which makes it so much more easy to tackle.

#6 Move from disconnection to compassion.

She suggests in her sixth great idea that we move from disconnection to compassion. And you know that's, she just admonishes she says, self control you parents, "You've got to manage yourselves first before you deal with your kids. If you are dysregulated if you are off your center, you are basically just taking kindling and throwing it on the budding flames of your child's dysregulation."

Oh my gosh, she nails it. It doesn't help you and it doesn't help them. "So I want you as parents to regulate yourself first." That's a quote. 

I think she is really dead nuts on there is that we really need to regulate ourselves first so that then we can have the connections with our kids that are that are really what we dream of.

I mean, we really just love these kids anyway, we just want to be so well connected to them. And that's where the compassion comes on. 

Lynn Davison 15:26
She suggests and I can't agree more, that it's the metacognitive that works well with our kids.

Now, I'm not saying that works 100% of the time but metacognitive means being aware of our thinking, the impact that it has on our emotions, and our actions. And teaching ourselves how to you know, choose the thoughts that work best for us. And decondition the thoughts that don't, even though a lot of them are automatic and have been there for a long time so it can take time to decondition them but just being aware of them.

Then teaching our kids that tool, the STEAR Mapping tool, I think is really it's it's one of the critical things that we have to do to not only you know, get ourselves at center, but also give them the tools so that they can get themselves to center quicker, which means that they will have build that confidence we know they're going to need when they're tackling a lot of the issues. They're going to face a lot of the challenges that they're going to face in life.

So moving from disconnection to compassion, using the tool, the steer mapping tool, you can find a quick guide. I'll link to that about how to use that STEAR Mapping tool in the in the transcript of this of this presentation of this video.

#7 Work together for solutions.

So for seven big idea, we want to work together to find solutions. And this is where Dr. Ross Greene gives us a step by step how to do it.

  • The first thing we do is we agree on the facts because we know from the steer map, that the situation is always neutral. And if we can start in a neutral place and bring us you know, our, our, our joint attention to the problem, that we can solve it better.
  • Then we want to make sure that we understand where they're coming from. That's the empathy step. That's where we really listen and hear what's going on with them using our reflective listening skills. And I talk about those a lot in The Art of Adulting as well because I believe that reflective listening one of the Keystone skills that we have to practice all day long, 10 times a day. If we can do it, I mean, if we have an opportunity to do that, we can do it. We just have to look for the opportunities and when you when you find how how much this helps increase your connection, this reflective listening tool. You're going to you're going to get addicted just as I have.
  • Then we figure out what our STEAR Map is. Where are we coming from? And we share that so this becomes a joint problem solving process. It's not us telling them or them telling us what's going to happen next. It's worth considering both points of view. So important for us to train our kids to do this for us to practice this with them. So it becomes permanent, because they really need to know how to listen to the other person as well when they're trying to solve a problem. It can't just be what works for them. It has to work for both parties and train you know getting this practicing this and getting it to be just a habit knit part of who they are will help them in their relationships, everywhere, at home, at the doctor's office at work, lots of places. So we really want to we really want to emphasize this.
  • And of course then the last step is to agree on what the next steps are. What are we going to try and how can I help you and what are you going to do to get to the solution? And they probably you've already probably identified the next steps and a lot of the dialogue that you've had already, but it's this step will we actually agree on what we're going to do next?

#8 Frustration, trauma and fatigue hold us back.

Her eighth big idea is that frustration, trauma and fatigue are holding us back. Wow. Yeah. I was so grateful when I saw this. Okay, come on. Here we go. Because I don't see this very often. I don't see a professional acknowledging that. We also have frustration, trauma and fatigue.

I see a lot of discussion about how to help your autistic young adult and not I'm not as much about how to help the parents handle helping the autistic adult and that's why I created the art of adulting because I felt that I found myself that that's where I was so I really wanted to make sure that I address this and I do think of adulting and so it works you know in the process is working for both you and for your autistic young adult.

So what she's saying is frustration and fatigue hold parents back from doing the five C's naturally. That's in my experience, and what she calls trauma repetition. So, so good,

Because I think trauma and all the research has been done on trauma can really help us address our challenges in a really productive way.

So, you know, first of all it's frustrating raising kids who are alternative learners and I love that, that is the best label "alternative learners." She's dead nuts on what she says that because the all the other labels labels can tend to be so negative This one says they just wanted to print late they got a different green. 

Lynn Davison 20:23
I mean there's 7.9 billion people in the world.  Did we not expect that there will be some variance in the way the brains come together. What is all this normalization? We got some people on the on the outsides here on some characteristics. Not a big deal. It's just not as that and let's figure out what works for them.

So you know where we get frustrated. And, you know, and we compound that with this invisible backpack that we carry around of our own past experience. And we kind of dump it on our kids like we don't we don't want what happened to us to happen to them. Or they're triggering us because of what happened in the past.

So that's what she talks about with the trauma repetition is that it's not only you know, our own experiences being repeated, repeated but then we're putting them on our kids. I just think she's really good about identifying that those are the ways in which we push our agenda onto our kids even though we don't mean to.

She gets this she's you can tell that she's had both professional and personal experience with some of these challenges. So just great her her video of "Why am I so exhausted all the time?" I highly recommend that you watch that. So that is just a summary.

Thank God there's somebody out there that actively identifies what the challenges are for the parents of alternative learners.

#9 GRIT: Get Situated, Resist Distraction, Incentives, Talk Through Small Steps

Her ninth great idea is that we want to use grit to anchor ourselves in what we're doing.

  • G stands for get situated. Think about the goals. Get that list that you made of what's going well in your young adults life in improving you know what are the unsolved problems and lighting skills in each of those three general categories of energy, work and love? And let's you know, let's get situated. Let's figure out what our goal is. And let's take on one thing at a time.
  • Resist distraction because there's never only one problem. There's always going to be more but hey, we're not going to try and tackle them all at once because that's just going to overwhelm both us and our autistic and adults. Let's focus on the one that seems to be , the most troubling. When we have success with that it will become easier to have success with the second and the third and the fourth because we have established a process that works for us. We've established a common language. We've established a lot of connections and celebrate through the Select celebrations and all the improvements that we've made. And now we're teed up and are really ready to tackle, you know, numbers 234.
  • So she also says use incentives you know, there's no there's no shame in saying when you do this, I will do that. And you know, watch their eyes light up because you know, this is not easy for anybody in the room. And it's really helpful to be able to anticipate a reward at the end of solving some of these difficult challenges.
  • And then of course, the last one of taking the small steps. Lord knows that's the best approach because we can only take on so much at a time and our autistic and adults would need to learn it at their own pace, even though we think they should be because we're always evaluating where they are versus where we think they ought to be. And even you know, we think we'd like for them to go faster than they are. It's not going to happen. We have to meet them exactly where they are and take them forward from there.

#10 Stop Arguing

Her 10th grade idea is to stop arguing. I love love Maggie Smith from Harry Potter.  She is just such a classic actress.

Dr. Sharon Saline is arguing is that our kids don't like us arguing with them any more than we do.

So let's figure this out. Let's take the deep breaths. Let's count backwards from 10. Let's do whatever it takes to notice what our thinking is that's evaluating this as a bad situation and compare it maybe to how it could be worse. So maybe we're grateful for where we are and see what we can do to center ourselves,

Be the person to live the identity that we have articulated is important to us. We are the kind of parents who do not yell at our kids. We are the kind of parents who love our kids actively and show them in so many ways that we want to encourage them. we want to warn them and we want to be there for them to consult with us.

Lynn Davison 25:14
They're not going to consult with us if they feel insecure in our presence and that's why we've got to extinguish the yelling. It makes. It makes a huge difference because I used to yell and now that I don't and it makes did not come you know now I don't think I really do. I think we've pretty much extinguished yelling around in our house and it has made a huge difference in kids feel in bringing up those struggles and in addressing them.

It's okay, we're gonna take one little step at a time.

#11 Limit Screen Time

Her 11th Good idea. Great. Idea is to limit screen time. Yeah, good luck. I know. I know. I know. I have to do this myself. And the best way that I know how to do it is to set a boundary for myself.

So at eight o'clock, I don't look at my phone again. It's done. I'll pick it up again after I've exercised in the morning. That's my limit. I've set my boundary for myself.

And now that I've done that, I noticed that I just feel less overwhelmed. I mean, the research is really clear that we're taking a heck of a lot more immigrants than our ancestors did that it was designed for. So is it any surprise that we feel overwhelmed? It makes you exhausted.

One of the easiest ways to decrease the number of inputs coming in our brains is to turn off screens.

It's so obvious, and yet our kids love screens. And that's because it's a huge dopamine activity for them, especially if they're playing games.

It's also a social currency type of a thing you know, and it's a way for them to socialize in a way that that really works for them.

So we don't want to say you cannot you know, we don't want to say that but we have to discuss, you know, what's a reasonable amount of time you think you should be on a screen.

Could you notice when you feel better and when you feel worse? And is there any correlation between the amount of time you spend on screens?

It make sense that you need to be in this world actually creating what you want and that you can then use that time on screens to, to have fun to enjoy your life, I get that.

And yet we can't over indulge in that because then we miss the opportunities of really creating the things that matter to us.

These are the discussions, these are the noticings.

If we go to that learning, if we go to that, you know, their relationship with with inputs are they do they notice how much you know, four to five hours a day on screens, playing games is an inch, you know, if you multiply that out, that's a significant part of their waking hours and is that what they want to do? Is that how they're going to create what they love?

Just the dialogue around all this? What are their thoughts? What are your thoughts what's the next steps using Dr. Ross Greene's collaborative proactive solutions that he advocates on his website lives in the balance that work?

#12 Maintain and nurture our connection.

And then her 12 in final great idea is to maintain and nurture our connection with our autistic young adults that the opportunities you know, to create and continue that trajectory that we want to know is, you know, it's just that's the Keystone. That's the key.

Dr. Saline says the key to success in parenting is maintaining and nurturing your connection with your child. Absolutely. That's what's most important.

It's not whether or not they get you know, the grade that we would like for them to get or the job that we would like to get or the savings balance that we would like to them to get or the body composition that we'd like for them to get.

It's actually the connection that we make together. And I love that this she ends with this is the bottom line, because I just I'm with her on this one totally with her on that one.

So those are the 12 great ideas. Let me just give you a quick summary of them.

And I've got them written down here:

  1. Focus on what's working and enhance it.
  2. Our brains develop from the back to the front and inside out. So notice what part of the brain is active whenever you're engaging with your child.
  3. Pills don't teach skills, we need to actively encourage our kids to practice the skills.
  4. Those five C's of self control, compassion, collaboration, consistency and celebration. I'm gonna go to the next slide because that is kind of flashing a light.
  5. Five, we have to use cues. Checklists are a great way to cue cue things. remarks, you know, quick reminder statements, not questions, but statements are the best way to get our kids to think about those.
  6. Moving from disconnection to compassion, maybe bringing in some other perspectives so that you understand what it is that adults who are now who are autistic or who are reflecting on their childhood, what their experiences were. Sometimes that gives me insights into what our kids are facing.
  7. Work together for solutions. Collaboration is the way to help build those executive skills and confidence so that in the future, when we're not here, they know how to solve problems.
  8. Frustration, trauma and fatigue hold us back. We need to take care of ourselves. And it's so nice to have somebody actually say that.
  9. GRIT. Get situated. Resist directions. Incentives. Talk through small steps. That's how we're going to make progress with our kids.
  10. Stop arguing is number 10. Because that just severs the connection.
  11. Limit screen time, because that's going to help them feel better, usually, and
  12. Maintain and nurture our connection together because that's really the bottom line. That's what we are trying to do. That's what we dream of, is just a connected, loving family. Together.

I am so grateful for Dr. Saline for putting all this together in one place where now I know what to do next. And I love how she reinforces a lot of the things that I teach in The Art of Adulting and I'm really hopeful that I will see you there.

Please go to WhenAutismGrowsUp.com and it'll take you right to my website where I explain how to join us there.

Bye for now.