Welcome back to ASD: A New Perspective, the podcast show where we help you understand what is going on in the mind of your child, and we do encourage you that growth for your child is possible. I’m Kat Lee, and in this podcast, Dr. Gutstein continues his conversation with us about adapting and reminds us that it is so important for both parents and professionals to know of the value of adapting for our children.

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Kat Lee:

Welcome back to ASD: A New Perspective, the podcast show where we help you understand what is going on in the mind of your child, and we do encourage you that growth for your child is possible. I’m Kat Lee, and in this podcast Dr. Gutstein continues his conversation with us about adapting and reminds us that it is so important for both parents and professionals to know of the value of adapting for our children. Let’s listen in.

Dr. Gutstein:

Somewhat of what, how we determine whether somebody’s dynamic or static is perceptual, it’s how we see it, or how we synchronize it. Let me give you another example, the example is global warming or “global weirding” as some people say, which is sort of the extreme events in the environment that are going on, which is an interesting concept, global weirding. I like that better than warming because it has to do more with the dynamic of predictive system that’s kind of a linear system that once we start messing with it, it just becomes more volatile, not necessarily going in one direction, right? So global weirding, let’s talk about that.

Dr. Gutstein:

There’s a country called Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and it’s an island country and not a very big country, but it’s sinking. It’s about to go under water. In other words, if you live in this country you face the prospect that next week you could wake up and not have a country anymore. It could be gone. So you’re going to see global weirding, or warming, as a very dynamic effect. I’m going to wake up every morning, “Shall I get my raft? Shall I go on a boat? Should I immigrate? Should I do something”, right? Right. Now for most of us, if we’re not radical environmentalists or on top of things… I don’t call it radical bad way, but if we’re not primarily involved we think of it as static and complex.

Dr. Gutstein:

And the reason I tell you we think of it as static is because we walk away from it. We say we don’t have to think about it today, we can think about it when we want to. We can donate money if we wanted to, walk away. You can go to a demonstration and march but you don’t think of it as that, it’s not a dynamic event in your life. You don’t perceive it that way, you don’t treat it that way. Whether it is or not is a whole different issue. I don’t want to get into if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, blah, blah, blah, that type of thing. But the point is, a lot of things in life you’re not going to think of. Depends on how you perceive it, how you deal with it, complicated, complex, dynamic, static. Even simple versus complex.

Dr. Gutstein:

If you’re an accomplished ballroom dancer and I put you on the floor to dance, it’s simple because you don’t have to think about it, your feet just moves, you’re just doing it. You can have a wonderful conversation with somebody else and do wonderful moves on the dance floor. Put me on the dance floor, it’s complex and dynamic. That’s simple dynamic, it’s complex because I don’t know what the heck, I have to think about every move I make. It probably screws it up, but the point is, I’m a novice at it so it’s still complex and dynamic, whereas if you’re an expert, it’s simple. Somebody’s a new driver versus you’ve been an experienced driver, it’s a good example. You found yourself, if you’re an experienced driver, having driven someone from one place to another sometimes without even knowing you’ve done it. You say, “Oh my God, I just went from here to there.”

Dr. Gutstein:

And that’s an example of your simple dynamic, right, brain took over, right? Your higher-level top-down complex dynamic brain was on doing something else for a period of time, and the simple took over, which is scary on driving on a road, because you really don’t want to do that. But it shows you that you can. A novice can never do that. Somebody who just started, it’s always going to be a complex dynamic event, right, not a complicated, but a complex event. You can’t predict what’s going to happen without doing it, especially in a city. May not be so complex if you’re just on an empty country road, but I have always been going to New York City to drive and driving in Houston, so it’s pretty much always a complex dynamic event.

Dr. Gutstein:

Although I must say driving… My kids have moved out to West Texas, my daughter and my grandkids, so when we go out there, which is 600 miles, most of which is just straight I-10, it starts to become a simple dynamic event and it gets scary because you can get off the road to die because your higher-level stuff is gone because with the highway hypnosis and you just forget about the fact that you don’t have to think at times, but it’s always an issue. So now we have simple, and so simple, right, so simple being simple non-dynamic, if you will, simple dynamic, right, simple non-dynamic is don’t eat before you go to the dentist, so, associations, right? Simple dynamic is a driver, experienced drivers not having to use the prefrontal cortex and use the executive system to think and make decisions. Those decisions are being, they feel like automatic, those judgments and decisions, right? Or in a conversation sometimes you get simple.

Dr. Gutstein:

And then we have complicated, right, which allows you to use reasonable, conditional thinking, sequential thinking, symbolic, analogical thinking, right? But it’s objective, things stay the same. You belong, you apply the right method or strategy to get to where you need to go. And then we have complex, some complex decisions. If you get accepted to five really good colleges, which one do you choose? You can’t do that quantitatively, you can’t do it analytically, right, but it’s important, and so it becomes complex. I just gave you another example of complex. Complicated could have a series of steps, a lot of steps, so I’ll give you another example, complicated.

Dr. Gutstein:

You’re trying to get from one end of a junkyard to another, big junkyard full of all kinds of weird stuff, and you go in there and at each point somebody’s blocking the way or you got to carry something that you have to step over or around, or whatever. And so you have a series of decisions you have to make based on the conditions. So you do that, eventually, you get to the other side, complicated. It’s a series of steps, it’s a series. You might not know how to do it. You can somebody else and they’ll tell you the series of steps. In other words, you don’t have to know the series of conditions and steps, but you can learn them and then employ them, right?

Dr. Gutstein:

So even though it looks complex, see, the junk doesn’t change what it is, right? The junk is there, and you can figure out your moves based on each condition that you achieve. There’s no in-between as opposed to trying to navigate through, as I said, a rushing river, which is very, very different. Anyway, so we talk about adapting. Let’s go back to the word adapting. So what are we adapting to, you see. So when you move out of a formal educational environment, especially when you have compensations, you’ve been able to operate, if you’re someone who’s smart in the traditional sense, with complicated types of thinking, which is what we measure on IQ tests or achievement tests. You don’t get complex problems, and you certainly don’t get complex dynamic problems or tests in any of those. You can’t do it on a standardized test by the nature of anything standardized. Those situations you’re able to get a master’s degree, and be able to do very well.

Dr. Gutstein:

The type of adaptation you learn is you can learn when to use one of your other moves that you have or you can have somebody can teach you to learn a new move. It’s added, it’s cumulative. You can add a whole bunch of moves, a whole bunch of conditions. It can be very complicated in the sense of, and a lot of people start using the word complex and you have to be careful in the sense of a big flow chart, and a big flow chart with lots of different steps and stages which you can approach each step one by one. Eventually you’ll get to the bottom. Okay, now you get into what we call the real world, and suddenly you start to notice things are not that way, that all the great, complicated ways of thinking that you could do aren’t working. What do you do?

Dr. Gutstein:

Well, you get depressed, you get anxious, you try to avoid, if you have autism, I’m saying. Now if you don’t have autism, it’s not like it’s a piece of cake. Complex dynamic things are not easy for anyone, and there’s a percentage of people who don’t have autism that don’t make it either, they don’t succeed for various different reasons, and we’re not going to get into those reasons. But for the vast majority of people who don’t have autism, they’re able to learn, they’re able to adapt to increased complexity and increased dynamic elements, complex dynamic elements to a certain point where they can have a certain quality of life, certain well-being. Not everyone, but most. So why it stands out for people with autism is that they’re unable to do that, why? Also, it’s because, from the very beginning of their development, they never moved into that pathway, which requires a guiding relationship.

Dr. Gutstein:

They never learned to deal with greater complexity and greater issues of dynamic functioning, which, if you think about what we do in our job, one of the things we do is we start with simple dynamic things. We think about moving back and forth, then adding small variations. The way we’re doing it, you shouldn’t have to think about it after a while, it should become very much fun, pleasurable, enjoyment where each had a little variation with that and you learn to function in a simple dynamic manner. You learn to perceive that you can do that, you can handle the ongoing continuity that’s underneath the variation, and should move into very much of an automatic, you don’t have to stop every second and make judgment decisions, it’s just  built in. You learn that simple dynamic, that’s one of the ways we start with RDI, we desensitize people who have been afraid of that dynamic world, right? That’s the way to desensitize it, also train the brain, develop the brain to be able to automatically do that.

Dr. Gutstein:

So now you’re free to use the top level brain rather than being back into dynamic things by hiding, running away, avoiding, freezing, whatever, you engage. We also start to learn to increase complexity. We add different ways of thinking, we add different perspectives, we try to say, well, try it from this way. We explore, we experiment, mentally adding new challenges little by little, increase complexity, and then we combine those complex dynamic things. We start to increase complexity, we increase the dynamic, then once we put them together, then we build the mind. That’s how we build the mind and brain. That’s how you’re supposed to build the mind and the brain. So by the time you get to adulthood, that’s what you’ve been doing for all those years, right? It’s not a big deal. That’s how we’ve been functioning in the world.

Dr. Gutstein:

So it’s just a continuation “in the real world”, you’ve been in the real world, you’ve been in the more complex dynamic functioning. Not that everything’s easy, but it’s been going on for a long time. Again, if you have autism, you didn’t start, right? You didn’t even start at the beginning. You didn’t even have the simple stuff worked out, let alone, right, the complex stuff. And what everyone’s done in the world is taught you to be, first, very simple, like ABA-type simple thinking, and then when they get more sophisticated, complicated things. Trips and social stories and interview techniques and strategies, even conceptual things, right, academic things. Some very high-level academic types of things, all complicated, complicated formulas, you could build an atomic bomb in a complicated way these days.

Dr. Gutstein:

Now 1945, that was complex. They didn’t know where they were going and what they were doing, but these days it becomes more formulaic, very complicated with formulaic… into some amazing things, right? But you can’t function on a day-to-day basis. You can’t figure out if you’ve only got $50 and you’ve got $200 worth of debt right now, bills to pay, how much do you pay for each one? It’s not complicated. You can’t just divide it up, because some creditors aren’t going to care if you give them… it’s not sufficient. You give them $10, they’re still going to come after you. Others will be satisfied for a while, whatever, whatever, it gets much more complex. Simple things like that.

Dr. Gutstein:

And so how do you adapt if you’ve never been adapting? See, learning is adaptive if you learn through what we’re doing in dynamic intelligence, you’re adapting through challenge from the very beginning. We’re continually growing. Increased complexity, increased dynamic capacity, integration, agility, step by step by step by step by step, piece by piece by piece by piece, year by year by year by year.  So you get to the real world, it’s just another thing. So I want to make that distinction when you try to explain this to people, see, it comes to adapting. What we’re trying to do is have to understand that adapting is not just adding another routine, or it’s not just adding a more complicated thing, something to a script. People with autism, well, high-functioning people, “high functioning”, people who don’t have a lot of intellectually impairing disorders never turn out about 70% of diagnosed people. They can do that without therapies.

Dr. Gutstein:

And of course it helps to have an expertise on your techniques, like Stanley Kaplan. He helped me a lot doing SAT, so it’s not like they’re not helpful, but they’re no more helpful to them than they are to you or me. They don’t change the nature of that person. They don’t help you deal with the world. They don’t make you go with the SAT, right? I didn’t want anything else. It was edited by the… Next time I take an SAT, actually it helped me for the GREs, not specifically, but the idea that I could go to somebody and get help and learn strategies, so I did that for both. And actually I couldn’t use the same methods on the GREs, the graduate that I used on the SATs, that would have screwed it up. I just learned conceptually I should go do something on that, I generalize, which is not as complicated stuff.

Dr. Gutstein:

But all the interventions where there were children, they have to do with giving you more additive things, complicated things or teaching you to use what you’ve already got differently. They don’t have anything with growth,  complexity and dynamic function. That’s why the data shows that each year that someone with high-functioning autism’s out of school, their chances to get good employment go down, not up, they go down. They don’t adapt, they get more frustrated. And rather than learning from that experience, growing from those challenges and problems, they give up. They get demoralized because they say, “Well, there must be some kind of rules, there must be some kind of conditional thinking.” There isn’t, it’s called a different way of operating. It’s really important for everyone to understand that and to be able to explain that to people because again, we use these words like everyone understands…complex, complicated, right?

Dr. Gutstein:

How many people understand that distinction? I actually Figured out it’s nobody. Actually systems theorists do. I learned that distinction where your systems theory which I don’t advise you to read, it’s horrible because they start throwing all these formulas in there in the middle to confuse you, but anyway, they understand the difference. They go by complicated systems and complex systems and there really is a distinction, right? Everybody gets confused when you’re talking about complex dynamic versus complex, and again, I think it’s because as humans it somewhat depends on how we perceive it. As I said, if you’re in Vanuatu, it’s dynamic. If you’re in Houston, it’s complex, and may or may not be dynamic depending on how much you invest yourself ongoing process of it.

Dr. Gutstein:

Racial relations before George Floyd was killed for many people was complex. You go out on the streets now, it’s complex and dynamic each day, and dramatically, just like that. It’s shifted your perception, not only that, changed the perception of a bunch of people and became dynamic. But it was always complex. Complex things stay complex or they could become complex and dynamic. Other things can just start at complex and dynamic and they just stay that way. But some of it is perception. There are some people who want to hold onto a simple view of the world and they want to distort things so that nothing is complex, where everything can be worked out in a flow chart or an analysis of it. And you see high-functioning autistic people, unfortunately, getting supported by professionals who don’t know any better who tell them they’re going to figure out and be successful in the world, but they just learn enough complicated ways to operate. It’s very sad.

Dr. Gutstein:

Professionals have no idea because they know the difference, or they think that that’s the best that the person could do. Which it is, because they’ve never started to use… They’ve never developed their brain in a way that can manage complexity. It doesn’t mean they can’t block it because your brain isn’t developed for complexity and won’t be able to do it, right? You see, if you’ve been spending years developing your brain to operate with either simple, static, or complicated stuff and I face something that’s complex, I can’t just change my brain today. You need to rehabilitate, you need to remediate, gradually work towards developing the neural functioning, the neural network relationship so that you can manage those things. It takes a lot. You can’t do it in nine weeks, ten weeks, it takes years.

Dr. Gutstein:

That’s why we have a long-term remediation program. We have a program, it’s not a short-term miracle. Obviously, when we’re starting out with a two-year-old it’s a lot easier because you don’t have to undo. The brain hasn’t developed all of its network connections yet. You don’t have to undo them, but it still takes a long time. Anyway, I don’t know if I’ve confused everyone or if I’ve helped you understand things. But I think it’s really important to make these distinctions and to understand the way we use these terms matters a great deal, and that we can’t assume that people are going to understand what we’re trying to do unless we explain that and how important it is to understand the distinctions there, adaptation, complexity versus complicated, dynamic versus static. How critical it is to develop the mind and the brain to be able to function like that. And how it is possible for people with autism to do that if we give them the opportunity to learn that way, just like anyone else.

Kat Lee:

Thanks for joining us for ASD: A New Perspective, a podcast show where we help you understand the mind of your child, and we always encourage you that growth for your child is possible. I’m Kat Lee, see you next time.

 

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