Sunday, May 24, 2009

Feedback and The Dialogue

As many of you know: I help in autism treatment programs of two wonderful children. I believe I make a huge difference in their lives by volunteering in their programs. And they make a huge difference in my life by volunteering their time playing with me! I have seen myself change in so many ways since I started these programs. I'm not even sure whether the program is more beneficial for the children or for us, the volunteers, parents, professionals and everyone else involved!

One of the tools used to train volunteers called feedback. Someone observes you for fifteen minutes in the playroom and then someone else takes over your place in the playroom while you receive questions, observations, input and guidance. Personally, I LOVE to receive feedback. The feedback related to the  playroom helps me  to be constantly improve my skills in the playroom.

Let me see if I can explain you what I mean:
  1. During the feedback we build on the belief that, if we make changes to our beliefs and ourselves, things outside of us will respond differently to us. We can change our relationships with family, friends, bosses, children etc. by changing ourselves and not trying to change them.

  2. In the attitudinal sessions I do I always starts with the question: what do you want to explore? This allows the explorer (the person who is going to do the belief digging) to pick any subject he or she wants to look at. From this first general question, we work towards greater and greater specificity. As we progress, we start to look at the feelings and beliefs involved. We work in the context of specific situations, because specificity helps us to more vividly recall our feelings and thoughts.

    The feedback starts immediately with: "How did you feel in the playroom"? or "How do you believe you did"? We are already in a specific situation and so we go directly into the feelings and beliefs involved.

  3. Both mentors and the feedback observers work with a loving, nonjudgmental and accepting attitude while exploring the feelings and beliefs involved. In my opinion, this is the most amazing experience and I wouldn't want anyone to miss.

  4. One big difference between the dialogue session and the feedback session is the one where the word feedback probably comes from! In a feedback session, the observer will explain why certain things you do are not as effective as others and sell you new beliefs that would be more helpful in the playroom. In a dialogue we do not do this; we believe that the explorer is the expert and not the observer or mentor.
This week's feedback gave me many new insights. Let me share a couple:

I used to believe that I was the one who decided when we'd had enough. I made up that the child seemed too tired or that the child seemed withdrawn or that the child seemed uninterested in our activity. I changed that belief to: the child will show me when we've had enough.

Here's another one: I used to believe that making the tower for the three-hundredth time was not as exciting as the first time. After realizing that this is not helpful, I now believe that it is more exciting every time. You cannot imagine how much more fun I have had building towers and doing other repetitive activities since changing this belief. Ahhh, I love it!

Finally, I have found a way to deal with my frustrations around no one understanding my Dutch humor and jokes! I now know there is someone who really understands and likes my jokes. He can fold himself double with laughter because of me. So I have changed my view of me not being able to make jokes: they are great. If you don't understand them, I recommend that you spend some time volunteering in a playroom and learn what humor is all about!

Have a great Sunday everyone!


  1. Iris: it is really neat to read your thoughts. I agree - some of the experiences you get while playing with an autistic child are not to be missed. They open up whole new worlds to explore.

  2. Sree: you say"some of the experiences". I'm thinking that I would change that in "none of the experiences". We might have wishes about things to be different in the future, but what if everything in this moment is wonderful to experience? Head banging? Perfect! Ketchup smeared on the walls? Perfect! Unhappy customers? Perfect! Burned food? Perfect!

    Every event opens up whole new worlds to explore! Thanks for being such a participatory and enthusiastic reader of this blog! I love your comments and thoughts. How did you get interested in this blog?

  3. Iris: yes, personally, I love and value every single one of the experiences that come with interacting with an autistic child... heck, I love everything that comes with being a parent, period. In fact, my neuro-typical son is currently offering me more personal growth opportunities than my Son-Rise son :-). By "some of the experiences", I meant those that I would easily recommend to anyone regardless of their appetite for exploration.

    I was referred to this blog by Jeannene Christie, who I first met on the net many years ago, before she became a certified CF. As I mentioned recently, I'm loving this blog for the wonderful topics for exploration that it presents.


Read, smile, think and post a message to let us know how this article inspired you...