Autism: A New Perspective
Autism: A New Perspective
Learning from Experience

As humans, improvisation is what has kept us thriving. Our ability to improvise comes from the innate ability to extract lessons from every day life; allowing us to adapt and grow.

In persons with autism the ability to learn from their own experiences is missing, a direct result of the loss of the Guiding Relationship. But through mind guiding we can help our children develop the foundations of dynamic intelligence and they will then be able to learn from their  experience. 

In this episode, Dr. Steve Gutstein walks us through the strong relationship between dynamic intelligence and experiential learning.


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Full Transcript

Kat Lee: Welcome back to ASD: A New Perspective, the podcast show where we help you understand the mind of your child. And we encourage you that growth for your child is possible. I’m Kat Lee and in today’s podcast, Dr. Gutstein explains the link between dynamic intelligence and learning from our experiences. Let’s listen in.

Dr. Gutstein: I think what’s really important is that in RDI we’ll be getting one element of living in a type that’s thriving in a dynamic environment, which is this idea that we can improvise. I can be an improvisational person, I can add things to, I can see the continuity, I can see the framework. I don’t have to have the rigid rules, I don’t have to have the sequence, I can continue to see. And then I can contribute to that, I can add something. I’m not just responding to you, but we’re co-creating. I think that co-creative excitement is the essence of what, one of the reasons why we love to, we relate to others. And why society grows and scientific discoveries get made and other creative things get done. We don’t usually, the idea of someone sitting on their own just creating things in their own mind is largely a fallacy, right? We bounce things off of people. And so many things of these are co-creations. And so much of life is about that whether it’s marriage, children, parents, friends.

Dr. Gutstein: It’s about that improvisational capacity. If we can always predict everything a person is going to do and say why bother being with them. We say that… And when people get divorced, often one of the common complaint is there was nothing left in our marriage. We already knew everything you were going to do and say there was no room for anything new. It tells you a little bit about the need, not just for relatedness, but for relationship that continues to allow the members of that relationship to create, to grow together, to experiment, to explore within those boundaries, those frameworks that are culture supplies us with. So that’s one element and the other, of course, element is when we can reflect and we can anticipate and we can’t prepare and we can’t imagine. All those require a better distance they require that we’re not in the midst of something moving that rapidly.

Dr. Gutstein: Whether it’s just for a moment to step back and consider whether we want to continue down that path or not, or whether we take a good big time to either plan or prepare or reflect back on what’s happened with this. As I said, there’s this continuum. We start to emphasize, we have to emphasize both as we move into dynamic intelligence. The one thing that I think that reintroduced that’s new is that offline. That I can use my mind to, as I said, to reflect and what’s happened, to determine what I want to save in my experience for the future and how to organize that. That I can a plan, I can prepare, I can anticipate potential futures based on my prior experience. In similar situations I can match experiences with what’s happened in the past.

Dr. Gutstein: And again the line there becomes, it’s not offline/online. There’s a continuum there too because recognizing the situation that is similar to one in the past might happen in my work, right when I’m online and I’m thinking about something, trying to do a task to solve a problem, come into a new situation. It’s just like that, that can happen very rapidly too. But we can also at times, then sometimes we then have the, to spend a little bit more time thinking about it. My full experience mining. And sometimes we just have to get in there and do something. But in either case, our prior experience becomes critical. At least we have a little bit of time to go offline, sometimes more. Now offline/online depend upon each other. So I’m going through the day and the question is how do I learn from my experience?

Dr. Gutstein: How do I get, if I don’t get learn from my experience, then I can’t, I have nothing to reflect on. I mean I have nothing… You see even reflection depends on prior experience because if you have no prior experience how do you reflect, how do you say, well gee is this like something in the past? Is this is not like, that’s what reflection is. If you haven’t built up a storehouse experience, you can’t reflect and say, well this is a new thing. I don’t have no idea, I don’t make sense of it. The way we make sense of things is because we look at how it’s similar and different to what we’ve done in the past.

Dr. Gutstein: One of the problems with people with autism have, is because they don’t have that mind-body relationship. They don’t learn how to do that. They don’t build up that ability, the personal experience library, if you will, they can reflect on, so why reflect? What can you reflect on? And of course then you can’t plan, you can’t prepare either. And each new situations when something new happens, it seems like it’s completely new that it’s never happened before. Because you don’t have that archive that you can`t go and you can go recognize and call it experience matching. You don’t have the prior experiences to match with. But my point is that all that also is dependent on what you’re doing when you’re online. So here I am going through my day and I’m not necessarily reflecting, going my day and somehow magically something happens. And I noticed that’s something I need to save.

Dr. Gutstein: Now often when we do that, we don’t do it consciously, do we? We don’t often say, gee, I think I’m going to remember this for, this is a situation that I need to store in here, in my experience for the future. Now I submit that we would all be better off if we wanted to do that. And that’s one of the things we teach our parents, and mind guides, as well as our students that there has to be, there has to be a mindfulness in the way we approach our day.

Dr. Gutstein: Now we can’t always every minute be doing, but we have to take advantage of the fact that we don’t live in a whirlwind. None of us, I could have had classified rapids. Those are rare events. Those are not, our day is not spent hopefully classified rapids without getting out. Even people who navigate through those rapids, if you’ve ever been in a rapids. I’ve pointed out that those people are very careful to stop before the rapids. They, I’ve been on those trips, rafting trips. They get out their rafts, they beach the rafts and they go and they check the rapids out before they go into them. And they see how they compare to the rapids that they’ve experienced in the past. What’s new, what’s changed, what’s different. So we do a lot of that as well.

Dr. Gutstein: Once they’re in it, yes, they can’t do that. Those are very brief periods, of taught. And that’s true I think for all of us in a day. We don’t hopefully want to live on life as… Rapids there are periods where we can be mindful that something has happened, a situation doesn’t have to be life changing. But small thing that maybe it doesn’t, maybe we weren’t safe. It says something about us, our relationships, our environment, something different, something new or something that reinforces what we use sort of a hunch that we had. Or an experience that affirms us in some way or challenges us in some way, that we want to hold on to. So we’ve learned to do what we call bookmarking. In our model we make that deliberate rather than haphazard. Because in sort of the normal development, it’s really haphazard. Who knows what its for? So you think about it, how’s any people learn to do that? It’s like how do you teach someone to do something that’s haphazard? Well, you really can’t. But you can teach someone to do something.

Dr. Gutstein: If you become something we all learn to do as a habit in a more mindful, deliberate way, right? We can do that. By mind guides can, go through experiences with their mental apprentices where they were gradually transfer that through their own actions. Through help scaffolding it. For the apprentice, well the apprentice is learning that they can go through a day. They can perceive through feeling moments, well I call them happenings, things that happened. Happenings that are a bit different, a bit challenging, don’t make as much sense or are you affirming. Things that are worth savings, potentially. That’s sort of the knife blending online/offline so here you are, going through the day. You’re not in a period for reflection, you not a period planning. But you have to be able to be a bit mindful to know when to stop for just a moment. Take a step back, or put a bookmark when you’re reading a book. Put a bookmark in a certain place so that I land on a certain place knowing that you want to come back to it.

Dr. Gutstein: So basically setting up a little bit of short term memory, a little bit of a cue. That only works, by the way, that cue only works if you developed the habit of reflecting regularly afterwards so that you can do something with that bookmark. And all you do is have the bookmark. The online sort of thing it it’s going to get lost. It’s something that’s a very short term store. So again, this is how online/offline work together. You have to learn then, as a regular habit, to stop and say, well was that worth remembering? What was that? How do I save it? Now I’m not a, the real world, that’s all done very haphazard, mysterious manner. Impossible to provide to someone else.

Dr. Gutstein: You know, regardless of someone else, if someone’s like a black box happening mysteriously. You can’t teach it, you can’t, right? You can’t guide it. But what we learned to do is do that in a more mindful way, a more deliberate way. Which is better, by the way, than the haphazard way, which is then developing the habit of stopping and reflecting. And then the next step is to then, create a sample of your experience, to construct a sample. Now, again, in typical development, those samples that we then store in our brains in our mind are constructed in a very unconscious, haphazard way. It’s not like, how do I want to remember this and how do I want to store this? And where do I want to store this? And what do I want it to look like?

Dr. Gutstein: Once again, there’s no reason we have to… Yeah it’s funny because our goal is not to teach people with autism to have that type of what we call normal development, which sucks. I mean it’s really a poor way of outpouring. But to really, for all of us together, including people with, to learn to evolve a bit if you will, and develop a more effective, efficient way of learning from our experience, to benefit you. So once again, we are taking advantage of that, we’re thinking about that as, let’s give them normal things. But let’s use what we have to make it in a more mindful delivery effective process. We use the cloud, like the idea of storing things, which is becoming more and more common anyway.

Dr. Gutstein: In the cloud, that’s easily retrievable, which means constructed product. We construct an experience sample that could be anything from video to audio. And if it’s just a sample, sometimes samples are just little cues that trigger something that we can feel. So it might be a photo, it might be a song, a piece of a song, it might be something else that serves as a cue. Other times it’s a narrative.

Dr. Gutstein: Other times it’s a hunch. You know what? I think that this keeps happening because of X. But I don’t know yet, it’s just a hunch. Other times, it’s something that confounds us. It sounds like, that didn’t make sense. I better go back and think about that some more. So we save different types of samples of our experience in different ways and we have yet to do that depending on what the experience was and what the significance of it was. And then over time those two become products. In other words, we start testing that hunch. We start getting several samples, narratives that sort of fit together and say, Oh, you know what? When this type of thing happens, this is typically the way it will go. This is typically the process. We say that’s a type of situation, a situation that keeps happening. And we start organizing that, we organized on the cloud, we organize it externally rather than keeping it all in here. And that has huge advantages. Now people will argue, are you then weakening your ability to retrieve internally when you’re away from the cloud and the answer is no. You’re actually strengthening.

Dr. Gutstein: And that’s what we had found, actually they strengthen each other. Because you’re not always going to be getting your phone and retrieving it. What did I say? What did I say? So and you’ll know you always can. It sometimes been you’re waiting on more online situation. What we find is that through that more deliberative process of bookmarking, reviewing, constructing, saving, organizing and then nine of the times we have that. We also strengthen that encouragement to intuitively recognize something when see it. To get those kids to, we’re also okay strengthening the internal storage, if you will, organizational system so that we have the ability to move between. It really is sort of hybrid that comes a supplement for us. In fact if we have the time, we have the energy and the need, we can go on. But we can also use our own internal operatives, cause we’ve organized. It’s developing, it’s not chaotic, see we’re developing our organizational system.

Dr. Gutstein: We’re also, we’re not trying to capture everything. By reviewing we’re saying, well this, now this is, we don’t need to save this. We’ve bookmarked it but it would just confuse. It would just add more just something we already had or it’ll add more noise so it’s not safe. So we’re able to be more selective and filtered. And so for people who have trouble with that type of organization and our organization gives them a huge advantage or a huge hell of a support to do that. So we find that our students are great at that. So all this goes to say that as we’re moving to the mind, we’re also moving to personal experience or shared experience. Understanding that we continue to look at the fact that our experience is not the same as others, sometimes. Or is that why we’re sometimes it’s not that’s what makes exciting we’re not tying to get it. But we have to always check and we have to assume that it’s not going to be the same.

Dr. Gutstein: And that we can benefit from those other perspectives and other experiences and they can benefit from ours. So that narratives, for instance, or things we’ve experienced, the way we’ve saved them, becomes things we share with others and they share with us. And its one of the main ways that we grow. Through that experience sharing. Other experiences we may use just for ourselves. And we’ve learned that we can’t just take another person’s way of thinking about something and make it apply to us.

Dr. Gutstein: It has to be personalized. We have to say, “Well, that strategy may work for you, but you have who you are, but I have to customize it, personalize it make it work for me. So we’re similar but we’re also different. And that continues to be a theme that we developed. So, I said, I hope we’re getting a sense of how we sort of move along into dynamic intelligence. And we maintain we have your tools. Whether that’s imagination, creativity, whether that’s future a prospective experience, reflective past experience, all become integrated together. Our online experience all becomes part of who we are, what we do on a day to day, moment to moment basis. They all become parts how we see ourselves in others.

Dr. Gutstein: And so over the years, this is a process, it occurred over a period of years. This is for growth and development. Of course the sooner we start on that pathway, the less we have to undo and repair.

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.



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