Autism Resource blog:
Skill Building

Parent Support University: Week 19

Aug 5, 2020
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Speaker 1 (00:02):

Hello AnswersNow, family and friends, Adam Dreyfus here for another installment of parent support university. This is what we're doing during the pandemic to try to help parents and caregivers out kind of demystify all of the applied behavior analysis, ABA terms that are out there. We have a method to our madness. We do appreciate all of the the likes and the, sort of the comments that you guys have been putting up on our YouTube videos and our Facebook and our Instagram. So please keep checking those out. We've got a great team that is trying to keep content fresh and relevant for you across all those platforms. I know that we're dipping our toe into Twitter a little bit, so feel free to reach out to us there. Who are we exactly always like to start off with?

Speaker 2 (00:47):

Well whoops.

Speaker 1 (00:49):

My name is Adam Dreyfus. I'm the chief science officer and one of the co-founders of AnswersNow we are a mobile platform but you can also access us through your desktop. We connect parents and caregivers of individuals diagnosed with autism directly to their own board certified behavior analyst. So basically we put a clinician in your pocket. And what we're doing here right now is why do you need a clinician in your pocket? Mostly because all of these interventions that have been proven to work so well for children and adults. Have you ever been to be a little inaccessible? We've been using roughly the same playbook for about 30 years, you would think that we would have done a better job of demystifying it and de jargoning it. But in fact, the opposite is true.

Speaker 1 (01:37):

It's getting more complicated. Parents are feeling more overwhelmed. So the core kind of offering of AnswersNow was how do we make ABA applied behavior analysis methodology and interventions, and sort of knowledge available to the broadest possible base. It's very frustrating that if you don't have an in-home person or your kid doesn't go to a clinic, then you're kind of shut out. So what the parents support university is, is about 10 years ago, a handful of universities real universities and not just YouTube universities came together and basically asked the question, what do we absolutely know helps individuals on the spectrum? So they compile the list of evidence based practices and they publish that list. And then they created these little learning modules around all of them. So you can learn at your own pace.

Speaker 1 (02:27):

You can go to the afirm website, A F I R M. That's where their modules are collected. Today we're going to be talking about self-management, which sounds really basic. Mostly because it's a term that we use in everyday life. And I'll explain that in some detail and what it means for you and your child or the person that you are assisting at some point. So self management is the topic of this week. All of us struggle with self management to some extent. So it should be somewhat of an interesting topic. I do encourage you to go to our website, That's all sort of together, no dots or well .com. And check us out a little bit more. We've got some information about our clinicians. We are taking insurance now, so you can find out if your insurance if you're eligible for services.

Speaker 1 (03:18):

So we've got a couple of different ways that we've done connecting parents historically we've done text-based support with some video components layered on top of that. But now we're delivering direct services. So we can work with your son and or daughter in the comfort of your home, on a schedule that works for you through a telehealth platform that we've built. We're really excited about it. And you can find out more about that and we're happy to demo it and show it to you. So we're broadening out what it is that we do and how we do it. That's how technology works. It goes, it goes crazy fast. So yeah, today we're going to be talking about self management and first just think of self management in your own terms, right? Most of us that this is, this is what a new year's resolution comes in, right?

Speaker 1 (04:04):

Ah, I wish I could lose 25 pounds. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. My goal is to quit smoking. My goal is to not lose my temper as much. So you've essentially, you've embarked upon a self management program immediately. Fortunately for the rest of us. There's a lot of literature out there. There's been a lot of research on self management techniques, things that you can, you know, like one that's pretty common to everybody is, you know, don't make your goal too big, right? So if I want to lose 30 pounds, I don't say, you know what, I'm going to lose 30 pounds in the next six months by and large, those that is not successful. But if you're like, Hey, I'm going to lose a pound a month for the next 25 months. And then you figure out what environmental changes.

Speaker 1 (04:52):

You hear me say that quite a bit, environmental change. It's really the key to behavior analysis is you've got this person, there's the environment around them. If they're not changing, then you change the environment and that will change their behavior either a little bit or a lot. And it's sort of a ABA in a nutshell, how to change the environment to help solicit behaviors that are more useful for the person. So quitting smoking, losing some weight. So you see there's a lot of ways you can do that, right? You can, you use a calendar, you can use reminders, you can, it changed the way that you do the shopping. It's the same idea when you're working with somebody on the spectrum, you select a goal that they can learn to self manage. And we usually start with a, we call it adaptive living skills, right?

Speaker 1 (05:39):

Like brushing your teeth, washing your hands, showering yourself, these routines that the more independent they are in doing them the kind of the, the, the bigger their life will be, if you can imagine that. So I, I think in those terms all the time, like how do I make an individual's life as big as possible? So right at kind of the baseline, right? If you can't communicate the two big ones, if you can't communicate very well and you can't take care of yourself, you're probably going to be in a pretty restrictive environment. You're gonna need a lot of support. Whether that's somebody's because you were, you're not toileted or you can't feed yourself automatically a lot of support, so shrinks your life down, right? Like there's not a whole lot of places that are going to change your diaper and feed you.

Speaker 1 (06:19):

You can't just roll into a McDonald's and by yourself and expect that level of support. So the more of those things that become independent self-managed the bigger, the person's life is the more independent they can live, even if they are in a end up in some sort of supported living for a good chunk of their life, the more independent they are in that environment, the more they'll be able to go out. The more they believe they have choices around what they eat, what they watch, what they read, what they engage in. So self management is crucial, and it's something that if you, you're not consciously thinking about it tends to fall by the wayside. Why? Because easier to do for somebody than to teach them how to do it, like tying your shoes. Think of if you've got a typically developing kids.

Speaker 1 (07:09):

Do you always tie your kid's shoes? Do you always make their lunches? Do you make their bed? Do you dress them? In my own experience it has been informed by my, obviously my work with folks on the spectrum and individuals with disabilities. There's a great concept that I learned early on in my career called the dignity of risk. And it doesn't mean you're just going to go take somebody and put them in risk. What it means is you have to permit people to fail. And even in ABA, there's a lot of, sort of talk and literature around concepts like errorless learning. Like you, don't, the person doesn't even have a chance to get it wrong. And there's definitely a place and a time for that in a sort of a, in the pursuit of a new learning.

Speaker 1 (07:53):

But it's an intervention, right? It's something that is only deployed. If it's absolutely necessary most of us just learn by being in the environment. Yeah. There's some stuff that we're directly taught, right? Like you go to school and you learn things, but for the most part, the world teaches you you're out in the world, right? Like you meet people, you learn how to change a tire. You learn how to do all of these different things. Not because you went to school for it or somebody specifically sat you down and took you through a course. But because you were interested in it or you had to right, the first time your tire blows out on the side of the road, you get out of the manual and you've got to figure it out now, you know how to do it.

Speaker 1 (08:30):

So dignity of risk essentially refers to permit the world too, to exert itself on your child. So I've got a couple examples from my own kids. My daughter struggled with putting a shirt on and off and all the rest of the clothes. She kind of figured out like where we got through it. But man, like, especially a tee shirt, she would just get about halfway. And for a little bit, we'd help her out. Right? Like we pull, pull the shirt off, but then I was like, she's got to learn how to do this. Right? Like this is, she's hitting a little resistance and giving up. So I started just not helping her. And it looks kind of mean, right. I'll admit it, it looks a little like, what are you doing and why don't you kind of help out?

Speaker 1 (09:14):

And she, I told her what I was going to do and she got upset. It probably, I want to say took 10, 20 tries and a certain point I would kind of lean in and help a little bit. But I would extend it out a little bit each time. What you can't manufacture is that first time that she took the shirt off by herself and she was all worked up and right. Kind of upset and it pop off it came. And the look on her face was the look of accomplishment of pride, of self esteem, all of those things that you wish for your kid, you can't manufacture that by doing for them. They have to experience that themselves. I was watching a video a couple of days ago about a, it looked like that about a 13 year old girl. And she was practicing a, a maneuver on a skateboard called a kickflip.

Speaker 1 (10:00):

So imagine I'm standing on the skateboard and a kickflip is I kinda kick the back of the board. It pops it up, spins around, comes back down and they land on it really, really hard to do. I've never been able to do I skateboard a lot. I’d never do a successful kickflip. She had apparently been working on it for several years and she on film, she started crying, crying, tears of joy and accomplishment, dignity of risk. You have to permit them to fail. It's hard. It's hard as parents it's hard as caregivers, but that's where they learn self esteem. That's where they learned self-management. So a lot of self management stuff is just selecting a goal, which if you've got a kid on the spectrum, their whole life is goals. Whether it's physical therapy, occupational therapy, like shouldn't be too hard to do this, but how many of those can they do by themselves?

Speaker 1 (10:48):

Right. And it can be making a sandwich. It can be, you can't underestimate the power of somebody doing something for themselves and by themselves. Of course you don't want them to suffer unnecessarily, but there's no way to do it without it being challenging. There's no way to do it without being hard without some tears, without some struggles, without some giving up. But all of those are really important skills to acquire too. Right. Persistence. persistence is a huge one. And if somebody is doing for you all the time, you're not gonna have much persistence. Cause you know that if, if I just sit here, someone will come by and bring me a sandwich. Or if I, you know, essentially like quiet resistance just wanna remind you that you are watching AnswersNow YouTube parent support university, we're covering the topic of self management.

Speaker 1 (11:40):

I'm Adam Dreyfus. I'm the chief science officer and I, one of the co-founders of AnswersNow we are a company that connects you directly to clinicians. So that you don't have to go wait in line. There's a, we don't have wait lists, you just sign up and you will have a clinician in your pocket. And now we're taking insurance and those meetings, which were asynchronous for a while where I like you can text a question or leave a video question and we'd get back to you. Now we're doing direct services into the home just like other ABA providers. So we're excited to talk to you about that or get you started with that, go to and check it out. Again the topic is self management and self management for children on the spectrum and adults on the spectrum is not that different than self management for you.

Speaker 1 (12:28):

And we tend to pick a pretty difficult things to use for self management. Like I said, like weight loss or smoking cessation or any kind of difficult behavior. And that's good. That's a good way to think about it because for our friends and family on the spectrum it's hard, it's hard to learn how to do these things and it doesn't take, you know, just five times or 10 times it can take hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times and you have to back off and back off and back off as they get better and better. And that's really painful for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it's just the emotional pain of watching a loved one sort of, it looks like they're suffering. Is there a kind of struggling, but the other is the pain of inconvenience, right?

Speaker 1 (13:09):

You know, you've got someplace to be, do you have half an hour to wait while they try to get their shoes on? Well, you're gonna, you should build in that time. You should build in that time so that you do have enough time so that it's not an imposition on you. So as you're working on self management, you want to make sure you schedule in enough time so that they can experience the dignity of risk and, and learn how to do new things. And very rarely for one of our folks on the spectrum, is it like the first time they do it? You're like, Oh, I'm done. All right, they have it. Now. It wasn't that way with any of your kids that don't have autism, whether it's tying their shoes or learning how to cook or doing their homework or learning how to read a good mindset to be in is like, you're a coach and coaches recognize that you just, you go over things hundreds and hundreds of times.

Speaker 1 (13:56):

And even once they're, so-called mastered right there. Like, I think about the last time you saw a football game or a professional football game, this is all these guys do. They get paid millions of dollars to do it. They're experts at it. And you're watching the game and you look on the sideline and the coach is showing them something. Now 99 times out of a hundred, he's teaching them something that he's already taught them during the middle of a game. Usually you're not trying something new. That's not a good time in football to, Hey, we've never done this before. Let's get these 11 guys to try something new. No, they're repeating the same stuff over and over and over. And that's really the key to any kind of, sort of successful long term learning, whether it's a teaching, parenting coaching you name it. So self management should be a singular kind of goal.

Speaker 1 (14:40):

I think of a better way of thinking of is independent, right? What can they do independently? So definitely check that module out at the afirm website, AF I R M this falls under the umbrella of the National Professional Development Center and they're evidence based practices. But even more importantly, check us out at, and feel free to check out our blogs. And you can sign up for free. You can download the AnswersNow app straight out of the Apple store or the Google play store, just type in AnswersNow, no spaces and away you go. Well, thank you very much for listening and hopefully you and yours are doing well in this very challenging time. We will see you next week.

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