Monday, 26 February 2018

Arthur Is On the Spectrum

I am a school counsellor and one of many great delights of my working day is the opportunity I have to work with students in the 'special class.' This term will mean different things to many people but to me 'special' is the time I get to spend with children from ages 5 -12 who present with a range of predispositions and learning and developmental needs.

One such student who is on the autism spectrum, will often seek me out for a chat as we call it. I might say I seek him out just as much because it is always a fun time. We met recently over an issue that he had been dealing with which I will refer to in a moment.

On the way to our meeting place we will speak casually about things and then Arthur will burst out laughing about something obscure but which connects to what we are saying but as yet I'm a step behind on the pick up!

On this occasion he asked if he could chat with me and we got onto all the different words we could think of that had a similar meaning to 'chat.' Like 'yarn' or 'let's have a yarn' which he was familiar with and he chuckled when we said the words accentuating our Aussie nasal twang! I introduced him to the word 'blather' a Scots word which has similar meaning to chat and yarn. I put on my best Scottish accent and said 'C'mon Arthur let's have a wee blather!' More chuckles. 'Heart to heart,' and 'chitter chatter' were also terms raised and which Arthur found amusing.

Arthur though was dealing with an issue of great import to him and his family and he found himself in psychological and emotional knots over the prospect of moving house. Arthur tended to overthink things to the point where it would effect how he felt and acted. As quickly as we had joined in laughter before his face was now transformed as his thoughts returned to what had become a rather large problem for him.

We had over recent years talked about how our thinking is connected to our feelings and actions and that we can make ourselves more upset than we need to be. Arthur agreed that many of his 'trains of thought' were leading up the wrong  'railway track' if I can use a railway analogy here. He knew his thoughts were unhelpful or Success Stoppers as we would call them. Brain Bully (his thinking) was making him uncomfortable; sad, angry and scared.

*Brain Bully (*Success Stopper) thinking can be challenged by evidence and his catastrophe scale told him that there were many worse things that could happen. We talked about the positives of his family moving house and he began to feel a little more at ease. He understood that changing his estimation of how bad his situation was, changed the way he felt about it. Arthur is an expert at self regulation and these yarns we have help him to re calibrate his thinking, fine tune his 'mind motor' which gets him back on track. 

Of course he will return sometimes to the black and white thinking world that will bring him temporarily undone and it is then he realises it's time for another 'wee blather' where again we visit a more rational world where the many shades of grey demand that we adjust our 'thinking sails' to the prevailing 'winds of change.' 

Arthur is learning that when he cannot change a given situation he can change his perception of it. And this is a very positive thing I tell Arthur and he says 'thanks for the yarn' as he chuckles his way back to class!


*Brain Friend/Brain Bully and Success Helper/Success Stopper thinking are copyrighted terms used in the authors resource materials 'Hav a Go Spaghettio!' and  'People and Emotions.'




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