I can’t believe that I’ve already covered 4 of the 5 core deficits! (self awareness, episodic memory, appraisal/dynamic analysis and experience sharing) The time goes by fast! The final core deficit is creative/flexible thinking. Quite often this is the core deficit that most people can identify and say “ah, yes” autism and flexible thinking certainly go hand in hand.
The core deficit of creative/flexible thinking is the idea that a person comes upon a problem (a change in what is expected) and is able to come up with a creative way to solve the problem. They are able to be flexible and come up with a solution. I’ve had families share with me that they don’t think their child has a problem with flexible thinking. They tell me “He is able to go with the flow of the day. I can drive different routes to different places and he is just fine.” This same family ran a little test and every day switched seats at the dining room table. The first night, not a big deal, the second some resistance and by the third time it happened, outright refusal to change seats. Not so flexible after all. Many times a child can appear flexible, but if you know your child’s coping mechanisms you may figure out that they are not coping as well as you thought. Many times you will notice when there is a change in routine these coping mechanisms show themselves in full force. Some will fall to the ground in a full out temper tantrum, others will get silly, while others will start scripting or using delayed echolalia etc.
A great way to help not so flexible thinkers to become more flexible is to present challenges that they can be successful in solving. As they feel more competent in successfully solving a challenge, the more they will approach moments of uncertainty or challenge with less anxiety and more willingness to work through it. It really is amazing to watch our kids work through challenges and come out feeling so great about themselves. Those who are brought through a challenge with the right amount of support quickly become much more flexible in their thinking.
Imagine entering the working world and not being able to be creative or flexible with a problem. We would run into problems immediately in any job! Challenges arise all day every day and it’s essential to learn to work through these moments with creativity and flexibility!
Until next week!