Autism Resource blog:
Life Skills

Parent Support University: Q&A

Feb 19, 2020
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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Hey, good evening AnswersNow community. I am Adam Dreyfus, the Chief Science Officer of AnswersNow. Now what is AnswersNow? AnswersNow is an amazing new app that connects you as a parent or caregiver of a child or an adult on the spectrum directly to your own certified clinician. You can just go to the Android store or the Google store or Apple store and check us out - AnswersNow, all one word, if you put a space in there, it's a little bit harder to find it. Prudence, Dreyfus. Nice to see you here. Feel free to hit little hearts and send little messages and ask little questions tonight on this version of question and AnswersNow ask Adam anything. We're going to be talking about feelings, how you can help your children learn how to identify their own feelings and more importantly what I would say more importantly but as important, understand other people's feelings.

Speaker 1 (00:57):

That is one of the big challenges that a lot of parents and caregivers have is, gosh, they just don't seem to understand other people's point of view. So we will be answering your questions and talking about that. I'm going to go a little bit into the background of it all and the science. But also we want to talk to you about some of the things that we're doing here and AnswersNow, one of the things that we have launched recently is something called Communities. So you can go to the app and you don't have to sign up for a clinician. You don't have to give us your credit card. You don't have to do any of that. You can just join a community. And there's a variety of parent communities with a bunch of topics. Victories, I need help.

Speaker 1 (01:37):

How do I handle transitions? And it's where parents are in a monitored group. So a lot of the parents, when we started this, had tried them. Unmonitored didn't work so well. So this is a way we make sure that people don't come in and just act crazy. It's hard enough doing when you're doing without reaching out for help and having to run into some lunacy. So we're going to get started here. Again, Adam Dreyfus, the Chief Science Officer of AnswersNow, an exciting new way of delivering expert advice directly to parents. Check us out in whatever app store that you happen to have. So we're talking about feelings today. And it is one of the least understood aspects of certainly autism, but frankly just the human experience. Autism is characterized by three main deficits: social skills, communication and behaviors.

Speaker 1 (02:34):

We understand the behaviors really well. We understand sort of what causes the behaviors, how to kind of teach kids new behaviors. We understand the communication part really well. We understand how to teach kids how to talk, how to promote more language. We’re going to be talking about that a little bit, we're going to answer one question that comes out of our communities with that last one. Social skills. That is a challenge. We can reverse engineer talking. Adam talks like this. He was a baby. We can build up through those steps. Behaviors. We can figure out what's kind of causing the behaviors and teaching them behaviors. But think about it just for a second, sitting there in front of your computer listening to this. How are you social? How do you know what other people are thinking? How do you know, frankly, what you’re feeling, how accurate are you as a reporter of your own experience?

Speaker 1 (03:25):

This is not a, I'm a, I'm not trying to be cute by this. It is only through understanding how typically developing people kind of put together experiences that we can develop really good interventions to help people who are missing or have deficits in those. And so when we're talking about feelings and especially as it relates to autism, what comes up all the time and is they don't seem to understand what other people are thinking and feeling. And that is a partial truth. But the first question we want to ask is, “Hey, you, mr and mrs typical person, how do you know what somebody is feeling? How do you know what their experience is? How has it, and so the word that we usually use for this is empathy, right? Oh, I empathize with that person. I can, I can feel what they're feeling.”

Speaker 1 (04:14):

And really obvious examples of this are like, you see somebody in distress crying and you feel, Oh, I feel kinda sad, right? Like I, I'm having an emotional reaction to that and I have no idea why they're crying. What did, what happened to them that's making them cry was not my experience. And yet here I am feeling kind of sad. I think of movies you've watched, you laugh, you cry, you have this connection to other people. Now there's a con, one of the biggest myths about autism is that folks on the spectrum don't have this connection that they lack this somehow. I will say this with absolute certainty. I have never, not once worked with, met, dealt with, encountered, spent time with somebody on the spectrum who didn't want to connect with other people who didn't have that same drive to connect that we do.

Speaker 1 (05:09):

So what's going on there? What, what, what exactly is this phenomenon that we're trying to describe this, this so-called deficit in them understanding other people's feelings? Well, the, the most common sort of theory that you're going to come across a few types in, why don't autistic people understand other people? You're going to come across something called theory of mind. And all that means is somehow human beings have the capacity to somewhat understand what other human beings are feeling and act accordingly. I walk into the room, I've got Allison sitting there who was helping me put this on tonight and most of the time she was looking very professional and she's answering questions. But if I walked into the room and she was crying, it would change my behavior to, “Oh well what happened?” And she might not respond to me. I try not to say anything. She just keeps crying. And so I would give her a hug, might get her a glass of water, like it's going to change all my kind of behavior cause I'm feeling her distress. What is that? How am I doing that? Is that, what kind of superpower is that? So that's called theory of mind. The fact that we can somewhat understand someone else's internal state by looking at their external state. And it is certainly true that people on the spectrum struggle with picking those things up.

Speaker 1 (06:28):

We're sitting here at the, our very fancy offices here at 1717 Cary Street in Richmond, Virginia. I kinda did this one on purpose. I'm in one of the offices here. And the cleaning crew is here, so we’re just telling them to be quiet. So we're talking about feelings, talking about theory of mind and one of the breakthroughs that we really had in understanding this comes from an Italian researcher and they were researching monkeys and they were trying to figure out very specific pathways in the monkey brain that happened when they picked something up. They were looking at motor neurons. So they're trying to see what part of the monkey brain fires off when a monkey picks up a ball. So they were, they were tracking all of this stuff. And what happened was one of the researchers picked up the ball and the neurons in the monkey's head that fire when he picks up the ball, fired when he saw a researcher pick up the ball and opened up this whole new idea that we have these neurons in our brain that they call mirror neurons that fire when we see other people doing stuff.

Speaker 1 (07:41):

So it partially explains like you're watching a football game and it got, it makes a big catch and you jump up and you feel it. It's because literally there's a part of your brain that is experiencing that as if you were doing it like you're, you're the part of your brain that would have fired if you jumped up and caught that ball. There's a, there's a, there's a pathway right next to that and it goes up there. And so this begins to maybe explain a little bit how a lot of neuro-typical people understand what other people are feeling now. It's not like two people with autism don't have near neurons. What's happening, we think maybe is that they're not identifying that, right? They're not feeling that in their head is like, Oh, that's happening to somebody else. So we've got these mirror neurons, we've got this theory of mind, we've got autism.

Speaker 1 (08:36):

We're not sure exactly how all these pieces fit, but we do know that folks on the spectrum can absolutely learn how to understand what other people are thinking and feeling. And we're going to talk through some of the techniques. Now I want to reiterate just as we do this, as we crossed the, just about the nine minute mark, I, Adam Dreyfus, I'm the Chief Science Officer of AnswersNow you can check us out at What is it? AnswersNow is a very innovative new company that connects parents and caregivers of children and adults diagnosed with autism directly to their own clinician. So you would just pick up the phone, text your clinician, ask them a question, why does my kid run too fast? Can you help me? Teach them how to read? Can you help me teach him how to tie his shoes? I'm having trouble talking to his teacher.

Speaker 1 (09:27):

I'm going to the doctor's office and I'm really scared. I don't know what to expect. I just got diagnosed. What does that mean? I'm transitioning into, he's transitioning out of school. What can I do? Our clinicians are all board certified and all have extensive experience working with parents and caregivers with kids on the spectrum. And so that's, that's what it is that we do. I'm the Science Officer there and what we're doing now is kind of doing these, ask me anythings. One of the things that we want to find out is we have these new communities on our website where parents can come and talk to other parents about varieties of things going on. We want to do some ask me anythings inside the community. So it's going to be like a text based support. So you would just come in at eight o'clock on a Tuesday and you would know that in that community about transitions, there's going to be a board certified behavior analyst.

Speaker 1 (10:19):

They're going to be answering your questions. You're going to hear from other parents. So it's gonna be exactly like this with no picture of and just typed out. So definitely let us know. Either email us or put it in the little question. And here, you can write a comment like what topics would you like? We absolutely can customize those ask me anythings to any of your topics. I'm going to go right now before I get into some of the kind of like part two of this presentation. I’m going to read one of the questions that has come up in one of the communities. So here's one. It's, “going to school after a break is a challenge. How should I prepare?” Huge question. We get this all the time and not just a huge summer break, but any kind of break.

Speaker 1 (11:07):

So for a lot of parents, the weekend is a big break. They think kids have a hard time getting ready to go to school on Mondays, but then Christmas breaks, spring breaks any kind of break. So specific to school, one of the best things that you can do is take your kid to school a couple of days before school starts. Usually there's some staff at school, like there, there's teachers and janitors there and they're starting to kind of prepare stuff and you can walk the halls a little bit. You can maybe walk your kid up to the locker, you can, you can experience school a little bit. That's my number one piece of advice. Actually, go to school, just go to school, walk around. And what it does is it signals to them like, Hey, school's coming. There are all kinds of books about going back to if you go to YouTube, there's actually some really nice, they're called social stories.

Speaker 1 (11:58):

So you type in social story and autism and going back to school, it's like a little cartoon story. This is, “Hey, I'm getting ready in the morning, I'm eating my breakfast, I'm getting on the bus. And that has worked. Not for every kid, but for many, many kids. That's a really effective way of letting them know what's coming, what and then prepare a little bit. So that's a great question and it is certainly a question that we do answer in our communities which are free to you. And for sure that's something our clinicians deal with all the time. And can really help you customize exactly to your kid a plan, a strategy based on your feedback and your knowledge and expertise of your kid that can hopefully result in a successful transition back to school. So I'm going to talk about my, this is a lot of my part two here on our, ask me anything about feelings.

Speaker 1 (12:50):

So we've got mirror neurons, we've got this theory of mind. What are some of the theories out there that have that researchers have used to explain like, why, why do we have this empathy? I think this is interesting. But it's what I'm hoping to do is it also when you, when you hear their partner, you hear their theories, it can sometimes help you think about new strategies for your own kid. So one of the theories is and it's out of this great book by Christopher McDougall called Born to Run about barefoot running. And it's this idea of like, where does empathy come from? And so his book is about the reason that human beings look the way that we do and run the way that we do is that you know, a thousand years ago we used to run animals until they fell over and that's how we hunted.

Speaker 1 (13:41):

We weren't faster than them. We didn't have great tools, we didn't have great weapons. But what we could do that other animals couldn't do was we could run way further than they could and they call it, they call this persistent hunting. So if you think about it, a gazelle can run for about 60 seconds before it has to stop. So like, it sees a lion, it's gone for 60 seconds, but it's heart rate gets up so high that it has to stop after 60 seconds. Well, why? And gives up once it disappears around the corner. But for us, persistence, humans keep calming. We might not be as fast, but we're not going to give you a chance to rest. So I'm gonna make this a little bit shorter. The idea is that the humans who are tracking these animals often lost sight of them.

Speaker 1 (14:24):

So they had to stop and think, all right, if I was against me now and I was looking at what's out here in front of me, which way would I go? And according to Chris would Dougal and some of the sort of the evolutionary biologists, the idea that hunting is really what was the birth of empathy, where we began to imagine what another creature was going through. It's a little sad because the whole point was so that we could eat them. And nowadays we used to meet at Starbucks and talk about how we don't like work. So it's come a long way, but if you think about that, like it's this, it's this basic instinct to, there's a reason that you need to understand what that other creature, in our case, mostly the human is thinking. So that's one theory behind empathy.

Speaker 1 (15:14):

The second one comes out of evolutionary biology and is a little darker. It's essentially the idea that we're really social animals, right? We really, I want to hang out with Allison. I wanna hang out with Brian. Not for nothing. We didn't get invited to dinner tonight. Just saying we wanted to go. That didn't matter. We're not the cool kids. We gotta to sit here and do this. Ask me anything. I'm asking. I'm hanging out here with Prudence Dreyfus though, who is one of my favorite people on earth. Oh, I don't even see that.

Speaker 1 (15:50):

That's weird. Hey Pepper, hey Sonia. For whatever reason, I am not getting the, the feed going by me. So this second theory is all right. We're really social, but we're really selfish. So let's take me for example, I'm really social. I want to talk to people. I'm really selfish. I just want what I want when I want it. But everybody knows that about everybody else. We're all social, but we're all selfish. So what's a really good skill to have been a little deceitful, right? I'm on a date. I don't want someone to know like, Hey, all I want out of this is I want you to be the mother of my baby. Well what? That's a bad opening line. Trust me, I've used it. So we have to kind of lie a little bit to make sure that we get our needs and wants met.

Speaker 1 (16:42):

Well the theory of mind here says that what the voice in your head, the consciousness is doing for you is it lets you lie to yourself. So you get to be really selfish. But the little voice in your head is like, “Oh Adam don't even really good guy. He's a really nice guy.” That's, I mean that's really what it is at the core of it. Like you work with autistic kids, you're nice to demos, you're a nice guy. Why is that important? The more I believe that, the more sneaky I'll give me any, like I said, it's not the nicest thing. And the last one, and this is my favorite one and frankly pretty, this is for you. So this is my favorite theory of where this game from 150,000 years ago. Human beings, super isolated, not very social did not have much theory mind, not much empathy.

Speaker 1 (17:25):

We were largely hunted by ourselves. And then what happened? What happened about 150,000 years ago, we intersected with dogs, dogs, highly social hunting packs and instead of us domesticating dogs as the traditional thinking goes, it's more like we became partners. They taught us how to hunt in packs. They taught us how to socialize. They taught us how to take care of each other. So it wasn't like we were  this really sophisticated creature 150,000 years ago. There was like, “Oh, I'm going to take this dog and domesticate for my own good.” It was more like we weren't very good at what we were doing and the dogs were like, you know what? Those humans know how to make fire. We'd like fire. We don't know how to make fire. Maybe we can hang out with them. We'll teach them how to, I mean, of course making it is a little bit sillier than it is, but there's a legitimate theory that that's how at that intersection of a sort of packs of dogs and humans that hung out with them is where a lot of our socialization was born.

Speaker 1 (18:28):

All right. That's it for my little science experiment. Or an explanation. Just to remind you my name is Adam Dreyfus. I am the Chief Science Officer of AnswersNow at Oh, here we go. I got one. I did see that one. I don't see YC. So Elena asked a question, “Is empathy a learned behavior or is it intrinsic?” So I would say that is a chicken or the egg question. Elena, I don't think we're ever going to know that. What I hopefully went over a little bit with some of those. Funny, weird but actually true science-based explanations is that that thinking is that empathy was not something that was intrinsic and it's something that we developed fairly recently. Those were all three explanations for how we developed it.

Speaker 1 (19:22):

So I would argue that at some point we learned it. And I don't know that I would say today that it's intrinsic. I'd say that it's something that's taught. We're born awfully selfish, hang out with a one year old. And you'll see not a lot of empathy coming out of a one year old. It's something that you learn, but I'm a little bit out on the ledge on this one. This is more my opinion than some hard scientific facts. But we can certainly learn empathy. There may be some level of intrinsicness. But it is certainly learned. So let me do, I'm glad to answer your question, Elena. It's nice to see you again. I'm going to answer a second question out of our communities and then gonna give you three tips for how to teach your kid to understand their own emotional states and how you can help them understand other people's internal states.

Speaker 1 (20:14):

So the question is, “My kid has a speech delay. He's great at repeating sentence options, ideas, but any advice on expanding his vocabulary?” Couple of different things there. That's a great question. That was one of the ones that got in our communities. So one of the things that you can do is if they can read, you have them read sort of longer passages, you have them read out loud. I would continue giving him sentence options but longer sentence options. And then I would also, this is a, and hopefully you can, I know the person's not seeing this, but this is a, if you guys kind of look at my face here, what I like to do when I'm trying to get more language out of the kids is have a naturally occurring cue that I want more language. So usually in the clinical setting you'll get a lot of like, give me a longer line, give me a longer sentence or that's not, but what happens in the natural world when somebody wants more information from you, like in a conversation or they're not sure exactly what you said, they make a face, right?

Speaker 1 (21:15):

Like kind of like a, Hmm. Like I didn't quite understand you and I will exaggerate it so the kid will say something and I'll make it and it's not a verbal, I'm not telling him anything. What I'm trying to signal is look at my face and what you should be reading is, I didn't understand what you said and I want more information and kids can learn that cue in the same way that you would learn in cute. Like if you were talking to me and you're like, yeah, I want to talk about it. I was like, well, kind of lean in and make a little like what? What did you say? Kind of it. And you're like, Oh, what I want you to do is pick me up at three o'clock tomorrow at the bus stop. You make a clarifying statement, you clean it up, you make sure it's a little tighter and you can do the same thing to kind of expand on the, as they say in the science world, M L use mean length of utterance.

Speaker 1 (22:00):

Like how long somebody's sentence is. Or you could simply just say like, teach your son that maybe the facial expression. So if you say I want more, I need more. And then reinforce it for that. And you want to like when they give you more, give him a hug, give him a high five humans. Like that's what I'm talking about. Something that they like. So that's a really, really good question. And that came out of our communities. Adam, what are these communities you're talking about? Great question. They are our newest feature. If you go and download our app off of, out of the Apple store or the Google store you will come in and you'll see a lot of content and some buttons and they're like, Hey, you could pick a clinician cause you might be like, listen, I need to talk to an expert right now so you can sign up that way.

Speaker 1 (22:42):

But we also have communities at, “find a community.” You can click on that. It's 100% free and there's a variety of communities. We've got one dedicated to victories. Cause sometimes you know, you”ve got to shout from the mountain top. When you get that kid to say the longer sentence or you get that kid to go to school after a break you should celebrate those things. And that's where, that's where we've got one for transitions. We've got one for young families. I'm missing the last one. Behavioral challenges. Of course behavioral challenges; wouldn't be much of an autism support parent group if you didn't have behavioral challenges in there. Thanks for the little thumbs up. Nice to see you. Sasha Yazdgerdi Erickson. We've got the full team here. So at this point I am 23 minutes in. I'm going to go into three ways that you can help your child understand their own emotional states and understand others.

Speaker 1 (23:34):

And these are very simple, easy to do. So the first one, and this is where, when you, when you see a lot of kids, five, six, seven, eight, but even 15, 20, 25, they don't understand their own emotional states. How is it they generally talk? Usually it's someone like me sitting at a table with a flashcard that has a picture of a face on it, like a sad face and I'm holding it up and I'm trying to get them to say sad face. Well is that the way that you learn emotions? No, it is not. The way that you aren't emotions is in the moment when you were feeling an emotion. Somebody said what that emotion was and that's exactly what I want you to do. So like if the kid falls down and skins their knee, say pain, that's pain. What you want to do is give them the language of what they're experiencing.

Speaker 1 (24:22):

Insight. If they're crying, say I'm feeling sad. Usually that person- first language could kind of help cause you, you have to sort of imagine they're hearing it in their head and when you want them to hear is, “I'm feeling sad.” So they're internally hearing what is happening to them. Same thing with happy. Same thing with any of them, you want to catch them in that emotional state and just label it. Just say that's, you know, happy, sad, crabby, whatever your words are. Some are very difficult like ambivalent. I don't know if I would be like, “Hey, you're ambivalent right now.” That's a really hard one. If you think about it, there's all these sorts of internal states that we struggle to have the language with. It's one of the things that makes it so difficult to teach somebody how to go to the bathroom and when to go to the bathroom because we all sort of know this instinctively.

Speaker 1 (25:15):

You, your desire to go to the bathroom starts way before you're thinking about going to the bathroom. So I can't look at somebody and say like, “Oh, in 25 minutes, they're going to need to go to the bathroom.” But that's what happens. Your biology starts to change, your body starts to get you. By the time you're aware, like, “Whoa, let me start looking around for a bathroom.” It's pretty far in the process. And how do you teach somebody to identify that internally when you can't see it? We do it with the little kids. Cause what do they do? They do the little dance. Oh, I gotta go to the bathroom, cross her legs. And you'll say to them, “Hey, it looks like you have to go to the bathroom.” What did they say? Nope. I know. And they frequently peed their pants right after that.

Speaker 1 (25:57):

So label their emotional states when they're happening, “Hey, you're being calm. You look content.” What you want to do is give them words for their own experience. And I would do this even with, for, I do this even with non verbal kids if you don't know, you don't know how much they understand. A lot of kids don't talk, but they understand a lot of what is being said. Call those listeners skills. There are kids who don't have any speaking skills, but they can understand hundreds if not thousands of words. So yes, give them the words in the moment. I want to go to the second one and then I'm going to jump to a community question. So the second one jumps it out a little bit. Jumps it to people. So it is the most challenging part of it, right?

Speaker 1 (26:48):

It is to get our kids to understand, pardon me, other people's internal states. Well, quick reminder here. I tried to do it at sort of fixed times. I am Adam Dreyfus. I'm the Chief Science Officer at AnswersNow. That is a new service that delivers ABA directly to parents of children on the spectrum. So it's an app. You go and you sign up, you go to your Apple store or your Google store and you download it for free. There's all kinds of information on there for free. One of the main things that we are talking about right now is we've just started communities. We want to have a place where parents can come that doesn't cost them any money. That is a very low barrier for entry where we provide really good information in a safe environment and answer their questions.

Speaker 1 (27:38):

What we're going to do for topics we're not sure yet. We're asking you right now. Should we do events like this inside communities where you can sign up and you'd be able to ask questions via text. So yeah, definitely check out those communities. So one of the, most of the kids that I've worked with, not all of them and adults like to watch something, show something visual on a phone. And so this piece of advice is you, you want to make sure that you're watching something they haven't seen before so they don't know what's about to happen. It should be something that they're interested in. So they're paying attention to it and you just get to pause and you ask them, what do you think's going to happen next? What that does is it forces them to try to guess what the people are going to be doing, which is exactly what empathy is.

Speaker 1 (28:35):

No matter what you think about how accurate you are, you're just guessing. Like somebody is crying and you're guessing they're sad. They might not be sad. It's a guess. This is very difficult for a lot of our kids on the spectrum to do. So I remember one kid I worked with on this, I started doing it [the video exercise]. I'd stopped the show and I'd say, “Hey, what are you, what do you think can happen next?” He was, “well, I don't know. It hasn't happened.” “Well, I know you're right. It hasn't happened, but what do you think is going to happen?” “How would I know it hasn't happened?” I said, “I know, but I want you to guess. I want you to think about what's happened so far and think about what is going to happen next.” “Well, how can I do that? Cause I don't like...” it was, it was very difficult for him.

Speaker 1 (29:14):

And he got very resistant to it. But after enough persistence, speaking of persistence, Ryan, he started getting it. The way that I framed it for him is, I want you to be a detective. I want you to look at the people, look at their faces, look at what they're wearing, look at what their bodies are doing, and then tell me what you think is going to happen next. And he was terrible at first. He goes, “Well I think they're going to fight.” It was like two people sitting on a couch having red wine and they were about to kiss. I was like, “Wow, that's an interesting guess for that particular thing. What makes you think that he looks angry? Hmm.” “Well to me he does look angry” and he looks like he's really happy and is gonna but that's a, that's interesting. We'll work on that.

Speaker 1 (30:00):

So that's a really good one. It does. You know, you're, you're going to be pushing against something that they're going to be resistant to. This is not going to be easy. One, you're stopping at a show. I wouldn't want you to come into my house and stop my show when I'm doing it, but it is a really good way to begin to sort of force that mechanism that all right, how could I, what information can I see that is going to tell me what's going to happen next? All right, I'm going to go to the next one and then I'm going to go to one of the community questions cause they kind of flow together. And I don't think I've got any questions other than from Elena. So the second one is the same exact idea, but I like to take things out of the, Hey, we're watching TV or watching a show.

Speaker 1 (30:47):

Get away from the screen a little bit, but it's the same exact idea, except you just go out into the world. So you go sit in a public place when there's a fair amount of traffic. Food court in a, in a mall is ideal. There's a lot of people, there's a lot of stuff and it's not weird. And you're just sitting there at a table and then you just look around. You say, “Oh, see those people over there? What do you think they're saying?” “Well, I don't know. I can't hear what they're saying.” “Well, no, I understand. But look at their faces, look at their bodies, think of…” and then I would model it. I'd say, “Oh, it looks to me like what he's saying is, Hey, we should go to the movies. Oh look, she saying, no, I don't want to go to the movies.

Speaker 1 (31:25):

I think we should go shopping some more.” He said, “Well, how do you know that?” “I said, I don't, I don't, I'm being a detective and I'm using my detective skills to tell me what it is that they're talking about.” And it's a great game and once the kids get into it, they really get into it and you will find it first. They're really terrible at it. They don't know how to pull those pieces of information out that are accurate. And if I'm a pretty social person so I would go up to the people afterwards, say, Hey, my names, I’m here with this kid. And we were just wondering what you were saying. And they'll tell you and we'll see who's right. Most of the time I was pretty right. I'm actually pretty good at this game. And but it's a, it's a great way to get kids thinking about what information can I pull out of the world.

Speaker 1 (32:22):

It tells me what people are thinking cause they'll say like, I have no idea what's going on. I'm like, right. Most of us don't have any idea, but here's how we do it. We look at people's faces, we look at people's bodies, we listen to the tone. Is that like there's this total hours. It's saw, is it sad? Is like, and so they literally, and I'm not using that word as a joking way, need to be taught those little markers that the rest of us just naturally take for granted. And we just do like, ask somebody, how do you know when someone's sad? Like it's hard for you to think, well, I guess their face faces sad or like, I especially, well when was the last time you really felt somebody else's experience? Oh, I was watching the news and I saw this kid who was a refugee and it just ripped me apart.

Speaker 1 (33:14):

Right? Like this. Well, what about what, why you are not experiencing that, right? You weren't there. So what is it about that? What are the pieces of information? So those are my three things. Help them label their emotions just by giving them the names. Just give them the names. When this happens, you're crying - you're sad. They're laughing their toocuses off, you're happy. All right, this is the word that matches what's going on inside of you. And then a couple of strategies for taking that into other people is, one, watch a show that they haven't seen. Get them kind of into it and then hit pause and ask them what's happening next. And to just go out in the world and play. People watch, people, detective. That's right, miss Lyons reading body language for whatever reason. And we don't understand. I talked through some of the theories.

Speaker 1 (34:03):

Most of us read body language pretty easily. Like that's a, like if we, if somebody comes around the corner and they're in a very hostile side of state and they're very tense, we immediately like, Whoa, that person's really angry. I probably want to go in the other direction. For reasons we don't fully understand people on the spectrum it doesn't come as naturally. It doesn't mean they don't, they can't learn it. And it doesn't mean they don't care about other people. It just means whenever that natural faculty is, doesn't come as naturally to them. But think about it like I'm terrible and instruments. Does that mean I have a huge disability? No, but I'm literally, I don't hear music. I've tried reading it and I think that's my challenge. It'd be really, really hard for me to learn how to play a guitar or the drums.

Speaker 1 (34:48):

It will take a lot of effort and it's the same kind of thing. It doesn't mean I don't like music, doesn't mean I'm not coordinated. It doesn't mean I don't have these other skills. It just means that particular skill doesn't come so naturally to me. All right. We're about 35 minutes in, reading body language. Correct? That's exactly right. I'm gonna wrap it up here pretty shortly. I am Adam Dreyfus. You have been listening to AnswersNow’s latest ask me anything or ask Adam anything. And I want to thank Allison for helping me out and sticking with us then. It's 7:30 something here on the East coast here in lovely Richmond, Virginia. If you want more information, go to But I would highly encourage you to download the app from the Google store or the Apple store. It doesn't cost you anything.

Speaker 1 (35:36):

And then when you've got it in your hand, there is a lot of information about autism. There's also free communities that have active real parents in there and BCBAs that moderate those communities that can answer questions or really the kind of the core function of what we're doing here is you can click your own clinician and you can sign up and you can get assigned someone like myself that you can text 24 hours a day, seven days a week and ask the questions about whatever is a challenge for you. I'm gonna take my last question. This is, you want to remind anyone that if anyone on there has questions, they can ask them one more time while you're answering this. I don't know if you guys heard that. So Allison was writing to me like if you guys have any questions before we sign off here, you can type them in the question bar and we'll answer them in real time.

Speaker 1 (36:26):

This last question is we've drawn some of the questions out of our communities. The reason I keep looking up like this is a, there's a big whiteboard here. I would turn this around and show you Allison, which you probably wouldn't like, just got a haircut. The question is, “Should my high school aged kid be involved in his own school meetings? He has learned about his disability.” That's fantastic. Well done mom or dad and IEP, “but he gets anxious in meetings.” So there's kind of two things. I'm here and here. Why does he get anxious in meetings and what can I do about that? And two is should he be involved? So not everybody knows this, but if you have an IEP at 14 years old it is highly encouraged that you participate in your IEP meetings because they begin to put it in transition goals.

Speaker 1 (37:11):

Like, what goals are you going to do once you get out of high school? So the answer to that first part is absolutely. If your kid's in high school, he should be participating in his IEP meetings. Now in dealing with his anxiety. I would have, I would work to try to deal with that. So one of the things I would do is say, “Hey, we would love you to have you come to the IEP meeting. It's really important that you're there. It's a lot of information and if you get too anxious, you can just leave.” I'd give him the out. Just say if you're feeling too much anxiety, if it's feeling overwhelming for you to stand up and walk out. You don't have to say anything to anybody. You don't have to ask me. You can just, it's like a get out of jail free cards, walk out the door and I'll come get you.

Speaker 1 (37:55):

But the second one was like, try to get to what is the anxiety for some kids it's, there's so many people in the room so you could have less people in the world. For some people it's the space, right? A, a lot of the IEP meetings are done in little teeny tiny rooms. I don't like little teeny tiny rooms, so maybe you could do it in a bigger room, but getting some information about where the anxiety is coming from. But definitely having your child participate. All right, we're about 40 minutes. I am going to sign off now and wish you all a very wonderful Wednesday evening. I want to thank everybody who's listening, everybody who's going to listen to this. It's pretty neat to see how many people watch these over time. And thanks Allison for helping out.

Speaker 1 (38:38):

We will have another one in a couple of weeks. Feel free to shoot us topics. But definitely check us out  at or just go download the app in your respective app store. We really would love it if you would check. Our community's not going to cost you anything. You can go in for free, ask a question, see what they're all about. But you would just download the app and then click what does it say? Pick a community. Select a community. Find a community. All right. Glad to see you on here, Sasha, thanks for jumping in here. Elena. Thank you very much for participating and we will see you next time, but as always, we're really easy to get in touch with. There's lots of emails all over. Get AnswersNow. You can sign up here. You can put something up on our Facebook. We'd love to hear from you. So thank you very much and wish you the best.

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