Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Introducing Joaquin to Inquiry (and adjusting for APD)

As (perhaps) pre-teen hormones are starting to bubble up, Joaquin’s interactions with papa are providing him with lots of stimulus that often result in his unhappiness. I’ve heard all about these unhappy exchanges from him for a month or so, and this week I’ve started using the questions from the Option Dialogue in these situations. Now, because in the past Joaquin has fiercely resisted answering questions about his internal landscape (hello APD!), I’m helping him move his thoughts forward through them —a concept I’m learning from our Brain Engineering program. Like today,

M: Tell me what happened

J: I said I wanted to use my coupons and he said “No, don’t use them”. I said “I want to use them”, and he said “don’t use them”… (pause)

M: So you yelled at him! (restating what he had told me earlier to move his thought forward)

J: Yes!

M: Okay, so he kept telling you not to use them. Why did you yell at him?

J: Because it was that ANNOYING VOICE telling me and telling me and telling me… (pause)

M: … So you wanted that voice to stop (moving his thought forward with a logical assumption)

J: Yes! I didn’t want him to convince me!

Ah-ha! Presumed Belief: Papa can convince me to do what I don’t want to do.

So there I got directive because I could tell he was ready to play his game and use his coupons and I wasn’t sure that he’d be up for “Why did you believe that he would convince you?”, or “Did you believe he could convince you?”. That could push his edge and I didn’t want this exchange to end in an experience of failure. So I stopped inquiry and explained to him: “Papa doesn’t have the power to convince you. He can tell you one, two, three, four, five, ten times, and still, if you’re clear about what you want, you can still say ‘I want to use my coupons today’.

He nodded and left.

Thinking later, it occurred to me: He used the word “convince”. However, he may have thought “Papa can force me to do what I don’t want to do”. If so, his response (yelling) may not change; he’ll use it again when disagreeing with papa’s opinions.

We’ll see if the belief I gave him was processed, accepted, and made it to long-term memory… If he’ll remember and realize his power next time he feels like yelling at papa’s annoying disagreeing voice. If not, we’ll keep inquiring and moving thoughts forward towards self-empowerment and happiness :)

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