Dynamic Intelligence opens the door for children with autism to learn that their experience is a very valuable commodity for them.
When the foundations of Dynamic Intelligence are set in place, the child begins to use their mind as a very powerful tool.
Most importantly, children learn that their mind is the most powerful tool they have to thrive and to be successful in the world.
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 always encourage you that growth for your child is possible. In today’s podcast, Doctor Gutstein discusses the foundations for dynamic intelligence. Let’s listen in.
Dr. Gutstein: Obviously the things that keep going on in my mind around dynamic intelligence and the book that I’m trying to write, and how that fits with the RDI program as one continuous phase… Because obviously the work in dynamic intelligence can’t occur unless children first develop the motivation for growth seeking, and develop a relationship that’s growth seeking through what we refer to as a mind guiding relationship. It’s a prerequisite for any other work we do with dynamic intelligence, so it’s critical. We don’t see this as different, as much as an extension of, okay, now that we’ve developed that motivation, and we’ve developed that power, that strong identification with the mind guides, where do we go next? How do we proceed? The focus then is to develop … To shift their attention from the body to the mind. To look at what we’ve done in RDI, we’ve done a very good job of developing what I call the body’s relationship with the guide in terms of moving together and expressing together, and also with identification as a guide, but the motivation is really the critical piece.
Dr. Gutstein: The sense of self because one is the motivation for growth that we awaken. Two, is the relationship with the guides who become the primary vehicle in the child’s mind for growth and safe growth. We’ve got growth seeking. We’ve got the relationship and we have the self, and we have the sense of oneself as having agency, as being able to exert influence in the world and being able to manage challenging situations, difficult situations, that I can understand new things, I can benefit from them, I can see patterns. I can learn to see things that are pattern even among more and more and more complex information, so sense of self efficacy, a sense of competence both in my body and my mind. So that sense of agency, it starts to move into the sense of mind.
Dr. Gutstein: So those three things need to come together. The growth seeking, the relationship and the self. As those things sort of come together, then we see children beginning to be ready to move into building the foundations for dynamic intelligence. Rather than working completely on dynamic intelligence itself, the next step is to understand what some of those foundations are. A lot of the foundations that we talk about… When we talk about foundations, the things that usually in typical development children are mastering over the course of their second year, sometimes within their third year… Well, I think it’s like representation, learning how to represent, beginning to learn about narrative. Of course, language is a critical component in there, in both of those areas. Learning to understand that they can share attention with their guides, not around what’s just out there right now, but about the past, the future and about things that are imaginative, things that don’t really exist, so we extend the concept of joint attention, with shared experiencing the things that are not here and now in front of us.
Dr. Gutstein: Of course, that first area of here and now has to be in place first. That excitement about wanting to share your discoveries or wanting to understand or make sense of things that are happening around you through the eyes and the understanding of your daughter, that has to be in place, but that type of what we call “displaced experience sharing,” as a foundation. Representation is a foundation, and those have to do with things like imagination and pretense. The beginnings of those things are a foundation. Classification is a foundation. The idea that I can organize my experience into different categories or simple categories that makes sense. That’s another foundation. There are others as well. Then we try to lay those foundations in place, and as we do that, we’re starting to shift our emphasis body or from the external world, to the mind.
Dr. Gutstein: So from what’s out there, into what’s in here and that, in typical development, starts to occur at the end of the second year, be it the third year, et cetera, as what’s more interesting to kids is, or equally as interesting. It’s not just what’s happening out there, but what’s happening in here and even to understand what’s happening out there to how do I think about it, not just what is it? So at 12 months it’ll be, “what’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?” Just understanding it. Then what we start to see is, well do you see it the way I see it or do you react to it the way I react to it? In other words, we start to move into mind, and then what’s your idea about it? The idea of ideas or decisions that we make or choices that we make, the things that go on or how we feel about something become much more ingrained.
Dr. Gutstein: Whether it’s talking about something right there, right now or something that’s happened in past or the future, whenever. The mind starts to become a more dominant area. The body and what’s out there in the world right now doesn’t fade away at all. It still remains important, but the mind becomes a new area of emphasis, and the children begin to understand that through their own minds, they can gain more dramatic influence in the world through using their minds, through using their own minds to make sense of what’s happening around them, especially to be able to use their prior experience to help them prepare for what they’re encountering currently and also what they may encounter in the future. That becomes the most powerful weapon, is the ability to learn through personal experience. Of course that takes years, that’s scaffolded, that’s aided dramatically by guides, by mind guides, where it becomes, in children’s minds, one of the critical ways that they have agency in the world.
Dr. Gutstein: They can benefit from all kinds of different experiences that they have, and they can organize those experiences. They can encode them, they can recognize them, they could save them, and they can use them. It’s not just about recollecting. We use them in different ways, for oneself, also to share with others, to help others understand you, to understand how others experienced something in the past, recognize that there are differences in the way we perceive some experience, et cetera, et cetera, and to develop an autobiography, develop a sense of who I am based on my prior experience, what’s happened to me up to this point, and then what do I expect to happen to me in the future.
Dr. Gutstein: So you know, we begin to open the door for children to learn that their experience becomes a very valuable commodity for them, that through their “mind guide,” I use the term “mind guide,” which is very important, they can learn to use their mind as a very powerful tool, the most powerful tool they have to thrive, to be successful in the world. Through using their mind, they can continue to expand, both externally in new environments and new situations. They can engage with challenges and benefit from that. They can continue to grow their own mental tools. They can deepen relationships with others, so that the mind becomes this operating system that they recognize. Children recognize they have to master, which includes understanding as much as they can, other’s minds, but using their mind to do that. It becomes the major tool for learning to adapt and thrive in complex dynamic environments, environments that we refer to as CUSP or having large amounts of complexity, unpredictability and other stress producing elements to them.
Dr. Gutstein: That becomes more and more of what normal life is composed of. They learn that their minds that they have, they can develop those mental tools to thrive in those situations to learn to continue to grow, mentally grow. Of course as that happens, what we see is the brain develops and grows alongside, the two are the same, mind and brain are the same thing, and that the brain is experience dependent in terms of growth. So the neural operating system and the mental operating system are really one thing and they grow together. So we start to see those wonderful neural changes, neural growth, occurring as well. What we see is there is a couple of different tracks that grow, that develop. One is if you look at the beginning work that we did when children move together with their parents, guides, they swing together in this very embodied way.
Dr. Gutstein: It becomes a sort of a non-conscious, automatic movement or synchrony coordination. What is that preparing us for? That’s preparing us for being online, for being in situations that we’re not going to have a time to plan and prepare. Things like that. They’re dynamic situations where change is a continual element, and things are not completely predictable, but you’re learning to sort of improvise. There’s very simple ways with your body, two variations and changes to enjoy them, to improvise them, to understand that you can manage them through your own actions at times when you don’t have the time to think through them or take a step back. So you’re learning that in the beginning of the RDI program, learning that improvisational action, which is very, very important. Critically important of dynamic intelligence when you’re in the middle of a, as I use like a class five Rapids, and you can’t just stop the action. Conversations are like that. You can’t just say, “stop.”
Dr. Gutstein: I have to think, think, think every second, process everything. I have to do a bunch of things, and I can’t stop to take a step back, get some distance, think through what are they saying? What am I saying? What’s going on? You just have to continue to adapt, improvise, and also enjoy, because adapting doesn’t really communicate improvisation. Improvisation is something we do because it’s exciting. We don’t do it just to survive. What I see sometimes when people talk to people, like people with autism, and the training programs, they’re like teaching you how to cope with a conversation or cope with social situations. Great. Basically you’re saying, ” Well, those are reversive, but maybe you can survive them,” but the whole concept here, and you can see it in RDI when we begin, your children are enjoying those movements.
Dr. Gutstein: They’re enjoying that coordination. They’re enjoying adding a little bit of variation and responding to the new elements that their guides introduce, and so that’s the roots of real improvisation. The co creation, the excitement within a framework, knowing that there’s a framework there. Knowing that, rather than rules, there are boundaries, there are roles. There are things that keep it from becoming chaotic and that does make sense. You can continue to see that underlying continuity, but then you can also see the ongoing potential for variation, for excitement, for creation.
Kat Lee: Thanks Dr. Gutstein and thank you for joining us for ASD, a new perspective, the podcast show where we help you understand what is going on in the mind of your child, and we encourage you that growth for your child is possible. I’m Kat Lee, see you next time.