As we focus this month on “Back-to-Basics”, I want to share some new insights from the most current ASD research.
New research is bringing additional vocabulary to our understanding of what is happening in the brains of persons born with ASD and is reinforcing our belief that developing intentional MindGuiding is critical.
In typical development, a child is born with vantage sensitivities that allow her/him to “benefit from the positive and competence-promoting features of the environment”. Conversely, children with ASD are born with vantage resistances that limit or obstruct their ability to take advantage of the rich opportunities offered to them by their environment. Vantage resistance is especially problematic in the essential functioning of the parent-child guiding relationship.
This new vocabulary is an important contribution that helps us understand more clearly why even great parents are unable to connect and provide growth-promoting experiences necessary to children with ASD. Even parents who are able to offer opportunities for mental and neural development in a typical child, see their same efforts unsuccessful with an ASD child. However, most parents are not in need of and will not benefit from parent training or parenting skills classes. Simply putting more effort into what would ordinarily be excellent parenting will be of little value, given the inability of those children to take advantage of it.
RDI starts from the assumption that parents already possess the abilities to successfully guide a child born with sufficient vantage sensitivity. However no parent, no matter how capable, possesses the skills to successfully guide a child born with the degree of vantage resistance seen in ASD. What RDI and the Family Consultation Program seek to do is to provide a method for children born with significant vantage resistance to obtain the same benefits from the MindGuiding Relationship as typically developing children. We strive to understand the specific issues that prepare that child from taking advantage of guiding and at the same time, construct and monitor a dynamic plan to decrease the child’s resistances. Based on our understanding of each child’s unique resources and constraints we construct a guiding plan and teach parents to provide guiding experiences that are personalized to their child and thus easier for the child to take advantage of.
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Pluess & Belsky (2013) Vantage Sensitivity. Individual Differences in Response to Positive Experiences Experiences Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 139, No. 4, 901–916
Pluess & Belsky (2010) Childrens Differential Susceptibility to Effects of Parenting. Family Science, Vol 1, 14-25