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The Problem with Taking Behaviors at Face Value

One of the misunderstood aspects of autism is that for some individuals, outward behaviors do not match inward intentions or thoughts. Decades ago, I learned from leaders in the field of ASD treatment how profoundly motor planning and praxis (everything from having an idea, planning motor movements, sequencing those movements, executing and then adjusting as […]

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Are Parents Considered the Experts of their Own Special Needs Children?

This has been a rough IEP season at my office.  Not because money is still tight and funding sources are scarce for special education services, or because these meetings can go on for hours on end, but because it seems parents are often not considered experts of their own children with special needs.  And when […]

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Presuming Competence: Part Two

Valuable information can be gleaned from autistic persons writing about their educational experiences.  A common theme arising from such writings is that all too often,  behaviors are taken at face value and competence is not presumed.  Because the neural circuits connecting the motor system to ideas or intention can be seriously impacted in autism,  taking […]

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Presuming Competence: Raising the Bar for Autistic Individuals (Part One)

Information about the processing differences in autistic children is streaming in from researchers and scientists. Two examples are Elyssa Marco, looking at the sensory processing differences found in children with atypical neurodevelopment, and Stephen Porges, studying stress responses in autism and other conditions.  Researchers are now weighing in on what autistic individuals have been asking […]

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Preventing More Violence

How many more deaths must occur before we take action to prevent future acts of violence in this country?  While discussion around limiting gun access is important, as a mental health specialist I can speak to the need for early identification of potential perpetrators. Our current methods of identifying and treating persons with mental health […]

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When Something doesn’t Feel Right

As a parent, you might experience confusion about your role in your child’s services.  You may feel that “pit in the stomach”, or “queasy feeling” when one of your child’s therapists makes a suggestion/comment that just doesn’t seem right. Because you have such a close relationship with your child, your weigh-in during these moments is […]

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Time to Re-think Treatment Techniques?

  Last week, at Bessel van der Kolk’s Annual Trauma Conference, the number of references to autism intrigued me.  While one would not necessarily expect to find those two words together in a conference, some of the underlying neurobiology found in trauma may be similar to children with autism, including weak or disconnected neural links […]

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Look at me!

Enforcing eye contact is a tricky endeavor in children with autism.  While gently taking a child’s head into your hands and asking him to look at you might seem innocuous, it actually can be very stressful. Parents and professionals alike need to consider the complexity of the brain networks in autism and make sure we […]

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Are you at Risk?

A recent study by researchers at the University of Illinois validates many other studies linking an increased risk of stress and depression experienced by mothers of young children with autism spectrum disorders (Jeans, 2013).  Fathers are at risk as well, however their symptoms may look different than those of mothers. This is somber news, and […]

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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.1 day ago
The look on your face nourishes the soul of the person you are smiling at--I try to always remember this. Thanks Marilyn Price-Mitchell at Roots of Action for sharing! #Resilience #Brainhealth #relationshipsmatter #education #specialed #earlyintervention
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.2 days ago
For those interested in the top-down/bottom-up discussion, here's some background info---When we don't understand the difference, it leads to an Expectation Gap. And not just for toddlers, but for all ages. #Expectationgap #toddlerbehaviors #tantrums #positiveparenting #resilience #earlyintervention #socialemotional #polyvagaltheory https://monadelahooke.com/1210-2/
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.4 days ago
Many have asked me about the difference between top-down and bottom-up behaviors. A common misperception is that all children's behaviors are top-down -- deliberate misbehaving-- and so they are managed through punishments, consequences or rewards.

That’s the problem. Not all behaviors are top-down; many disruptive behaviors are actually bottom-up.

Bottom-up behaviors do not respond to rewards, consequences or punishments. They are brain-based stress behaviors that require understanding, compassion and actively helping a child feel safe. When we punish a bottom-up behavior, we can easily make matters worse. And this is why so many of our approaches fall short, or even deepen a child or teen’s emotional and behavioral challenges. Understanding the difference will reduce suffering for so many—including those from loving homes, to foster children who have been needlessly blamed for their behaviors, and neurodivergent children inappropriately disciplined for their natural inclinations. #Beyondbehaviors #ACES #Parenting #Paradigmshift #Neurodiversity #specialeducation #Childwelfare
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.5 days ago
Thanks Hidden Treasure with Tracey Farrell for this reframe, great synchrony with #Beyondbehaviors!
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.6 days ago
Thanks DMDD Journey for such a nice reframe of the term "attention-seeking". #Beyondbehaviors #relationshipsfirst