To get back to the narrative, I started thinking about the D.O.O.R approach to Reality Training soon after the “Beanbag Episode”.
My “Defining Moment” to start my own Training with “Opening Up” as its central focus, came at the end of a typical school day, at my boy’s mainstream school when he was about 7 or 8. As usual at the end of the day all the kids would convene to the monkey bars and its surrounding play area, where they would interact. Eventually they would pair off, going to each others’ houses to continue the playing, leaving my boy to himself, swinging on the monkey bars and talking to himself /making little noises.
I asked him whether he would like to be invited to another childs place instead of being left there by himself, and sensed a deeper need than just his casual assent to the proposition.
I determined to use the courage of my own convictions and set up Training to introduce him to the Real World as not just a vague concept in his mind, but a fundamentally important thing, and set about motivating him to enter it with determination, in spite of the obstacles, and observe the benefits – always keeping his motivation uppermost.
The D.O.O.R approach involves the physical act of stepping out over a barrier confront the challenges and enjoy the pleasures that await on the “other side”. It has clearly motivated my boy, and I hope when I add that element to the Junior Training the D.O.O.R approach will motivate your Loved One too.
I have refined the Training over the ensuing 4 or 5 years since he opened his DOOR. I have also experienced other revelations, (some concerning myself, and no doubt more neurotypical people like yourself too) and I have upgraded the Training to reflect those improvements.
This Site does not contain that Training yet, as I have become distracted and absorbed in setting out our Childrens’ early needs. But if your Child is at the point right now (say aged around 8) where comprehension is growing along with motivation to stop “always missing out” I can correspond with you and send you what I have set down to date about opening your “D.O.O.R”. Email me here.
You may be tempted to think that your Child does not have the necessary emotional range to be self-motivated to do the Training.
My first experience to the contrary was at an early age, where my boy uttered a loud cry of heart-wrenching anguish to my excessive questioning about his getting-on with the other 3-5 year olds at the home-based day care he attended some days of the week. He had hidden his frustrations at not being able to play with them from himself, but after they came out in their flood I never doubted my son’s emotional capacity again.
I have witnessed more complex emotions like jealousy too, the prime example being when I was playing with a classmate of his in the sea, while he sauntered about on the beach having left us to it. He definitely demonstrated his dislike for such things later, being virtually hysterical at the smallest provocation. It occurred to me that while on the monkey bars at school he didn’t feel he was missing out on human interaction, when it was more clearly demonstrated to him in black and white (or sand-and-sea) he was definitely aware.
Thus the issue was not one of whether the emotion was there, as you may wonder sometimes, but whether they are sufficiently alert to the conditions around them to evoke the emotion.
The ability to feel the powerful emotion of ‘missing out’ is definitely there. I have since utilised that understanding to create the most powerful motivator yet, called the “4-way” an adaptable graphic that you will eventually have access to as part of the advanced Real World Training (not available yet, but you are welcome to contact me about it.) The “4-way”‘s uniqueness lies in its representation of two possible conditions and their outcomes, not just the one being observed, but another one that could be. More of that later.
Another revelation over my years with the Boy, is how deep and all-pervasive can be the “illusion of control” that a more autistic person can harbour in their Own World. This attitude is one of the last unrealistic attitudes to be dispelled through more frequent association with the Real World. It is one that very-mild autistic people have, even those who have not been “diagnosed”. The fantasy of having more control than one really possesses pervades our species in fact, designed to help us feel more secure with (imagined) greater self-determination.
Of course the sense is more prevalent the further into your Own World you are: without the intrusion of reality to demonstrate to you your limits, you can extend that sense well beyond realistic limits, and gain yet another benefit of living in your Own World!
The most notable occasion: we were walking downhill along a forest track with our boy about 9 then, and a child from the mothers group, very independent, her mum was at home with her infant. It was a much longer walk than we had imagined, and our chap started to unravel (by the way, does anyone else have the experience that walking downhill a long way can suddenly upset their Child? It has happened to us on at least 2 other notable occasions).
We stopped to throw stones at a tree. The other child was hitting the tree more often than my boy. Suddenly he started making “waving away” motions with his hands, saying “I’m not letting Sarah throw any more stones”. Had it not been for his exhaustion he would not have revealed his sense of “running everything”. He must have been rebuffed on some earlier occasions regarding this attitude, so this feeling had “gone underground”, where he could preserve it. The importance of this sense to him was reinforced by his later vehemence that he did not think that he was running everything – “methought he did protest too much”- and taking hold of that thread I could perceive it in other behaviours.
But when it comes to motivating your loved one to be more in the Real World, you can use this “illusion of control” for good..!
Since it must take a lot of alertness to run everything, and then more energy spending time rationalising why people didn’t do what you wanted them to, it is a potentially great relief and saving of energy for your loved one to be told: “you don’t have to look after everything any more! Take a deep breath and let it all go. And let people do what they want. You are now free of the need to control it ! You never did control it anyway. By all means be properly aware of things around you, so you can accurately predict real danger, but congratulations, you are freed from all the rest! You are safe here, let it go.”
This approach is also useful as a preliminary to effective Relaxation, a subject given a lot of importance in Real World Training and tailored to suit more-autistic people.