Saturday, January 14, 2012

See Him Like Quinn

Pretty much every day of the week, Iris walks through the door full of excitement. She's just finished her session with Quinn and she is is positively gleeful.

To see her, you would think that every day involved some kind of miraculous breakthrough or an overwhelming display of affection. But that's not the case, at least not all the time.

Sure, there are times when Iris relates something Quinn did that was new and marvelous (at least by popular standards). However Iris often takes the greatest delight in new and marvelous actions that would positively piss her off if performed by someone else, e.g., yours truly.

She chortles as she tells of Quinn's attempts to gain control by head-butting her. She laughs loudly as she describes how Quinn looked her straight in the eye while holding out his cup, turning it slowly forward, waiting for the contents to spill onto the floor, and then saying, "Oh, oh. Accident." She takes shear delete in Quinn's attempts to ignore, manipulate and control her. She takes even greater delight in how persistant Quinn can be in his efforts.

A situation that leaves many exhausted and stressed, leaves Iris energized and enthused.

Some might say that it's just Iris. That's who she is. She's special.

Although I'd have to agree that Iris is special, I would not attribute this phenomenon to that. Iris has more than adequate capacity to get frustrated, stressed and angry. Put her into a similar situation with an adult manifesting Quinn but perhaps in a more adult manner, and if she doesn't leave the room somewhere in the middle of the session, she'll want time alone afterward. What Iris does, she does intentionally and actively; it's not some innate capacity that just flows.

This morning I was wondering, "Why not see everyone as Iris sees Quinn? What would happen if we did?"

The list of why-nots piles up quickly. You just can't treat everyone as if they were on the autism spectrum. If you were loving and accepting with everyone, then no one would ever change. I couldn't afford the time and energy to do that. It's OK to do so with a child, but at some point people have to grow up.

We all share some form of these deeply ingrained beliefs. By a certain age people should... If I didn't show displeasure, then he'd never... It takes a lot of effort to work with "difficult" people. We act in a manner consistent with them. That guy wears me out. The woman at the DMV made me so mad. People should know better. We act as though our actions were actually working.

A lot of times, they're not.

So what would change if we replaced those beliefs and changed our actions commensurately? Replace aged-based mandates with acceptance and the belief that she's doing the best she can based on who she is and what she believes. Replace too much work with the belief that being with difficult people can be challenging and energizing. Replace showing displeasure to manipulate change with showing delight.

To be clear, although Iris is perfectly happy with Quinn and whatever he does, it doesn't keep her from her agenda to help him change and grow. She just doesn't see being unhappy with his current state as a necessary condition for change.

What would happen if we all saw everyone as Iris sees Quinn?

Happy Saturday,

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