In today’s post, Pat Voytko shares a Communication Chart she uses with her families that she adapted from materials by Dr. Steven Gutstein

Instrumental Communication and Dynamic Abilities

How does the overuse of instrumental communication (getting your child to do or say something specific) inhibit the development of dynamic neural integration and dynamic intelligence?

  • Lower level neural pathways (associative thinking) fire more quickly than higher level neural pathways (integrated, flexible thinking and problem solving) so:
    • Frequent or exclusive use of these static neural pathways creates mindless habitual pathway use, even when dynamic neural integration would work better or is required
    • The more you use static neural pathways, the fewer opportunities there are for developing and strengthening the use of integrated dynamic pathways
    • There is limited neural structure for thinking and the more developed static pathways are the less available “space” there is for dynamic pathways.

How does the overuse of instrumental communication inhibit the development of a dynamic communication feedback system between parent and child?

  • It creates a “dead end” pathway, once the answer is given the thread is complete and there is no need to continue.
  • There is no “invitation” to send back, no opening for interest in additional information.
  • It fosters a focus on the words and task and creates an obstacle to thinking about your partner.

How does the overuse of instrumental communication promote the failure to develop motivation to use the guide as a reference point?

  • The child becomes focused on the words rather than the sender so there is no motivation to ascertain the guide’s perceptions.
  • The child becomes result or right answer focused rather than thinking focused.

How does the overuse of instrumental communication promote the failure to develop resilience?

  • The child becomes dependent on direct prompting rather than thinking so there is no ownership of the experience of success.
  • Praising the results of associative thinking may foster a sense of pleasure but does not translate into the effort and persistence needed for problem solving in dynamic processing situations.
  • The child focuses on getting the “right” answer (static pathways), thereby avoiding opportunities to build competence and resilience in dynamic situations.
  • The child fails to develop trust in adults to help them be successful in dynamic thinking situations.

Related: Dynamic Communication Tips

Experience Sharing Communication and Dynamic Abilities

How can we use experience sharing communication (pace, silence, nonverbal and verbal) to foster the development and strengthening of the feedback system, identification/referencing and resilience?

  1. Breaking the instrumental habit (using pauses and as much nonverbal and non-instrumental communication as possible)
    1. sets up a natural system of back and forth rather than question/answer or direction following dead end exchanges
    2. pauses invite a response but do not demand it, breaking the cycle of looking for the right answer
    3. helps make YOU a focus rather than just the activity or the words
  1. Slowing down
    1. this gives the child time to think and alleviates the pressure for and habit of some kind of “right”, expected and static response
    2. gives the parent time to think so they can more carefully craft their communication – mindfully choosing to be instrumental or experience sharing based on the current situation
    3. helps make YOU a focus rather than just the activity or the word
  1. Emphasizing nonverbal channels of communication
    1. strengthens the “tools” the child needs for more dynamic and integrated thinking and communicating
    2. gives the child something to think about or figure out (dynamic thinking)
    3. helps make YOU a focus rather than just the activity or the words
  1. Reminding the child where the most important focus of attention is rather than trying to get the child to shift attention
    1. gives the child something to figure out (dynamic thinking)
    2. breaks the cycle of expected right answer or static response
    3. helps make YOU a focus rather than just the activity or the words
  1. Ignoring off topic, unrelated or controlling communication from the child
    1. lets the child know that this new way of interacting is not about control
    2. helps the child figure out where the important focus of attention is
    3. helps make YOU a focus rather than just the activity or the words
  1. Keeping your primary goal as the communication/feedback system rather than the achievement of a specific activity or task
    1. keeps the back and forth interchanges as the focus
    2. breaks the cycle of looking for the right or static answer
    3. helps make YOU a focus rather than just the activity or the words
  1. Developing integrated dynamic neural pathways
    1. all the above

Pat VoytkoPat Voytko is an RDI® Consultant, special education teacher and early intervention provider. RDI® has become the foundation of all her work as it focuses on the natural process of developing relationships, which, in turn, supports social/cognitive development and an improved quality of life. Contact Pat: patvoytko@optonline.net

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