Your brain is a vital, living organ. It is thoroughly responsive to everything but particularly to human interaction. (Tweet this quote.) This blog post encourages you to embrace a new understanding of your brain and how it operates in relationship to children and youth. Learn how to actively befriend your brain and the brains of the children in your world in a way that maximizes therapeutic potential.
Your brain is not lodged in place like a piece of machinery with assigned mechanisms for singular functions. From the moment of your conception it has participated actively in and recorded all your experiences in a multitude of ways.
Your brain is a social organism. Relationships are its building blocks from the very beginning of life. The brain is a work of art that is always in process. It is a playful dancer, a friend on a play date, a game partner. It is not rigid unless we force it to be so.
Each human interaction creates a neurological response. This means that how we speak, observe, engage, connect and play with our children has meaning. It is not only what we do with children it is how we do it that matters.
How to Use Your Brain to Anchor a Neurodiverse Child
As adults evolve and understand themselves, and particularly as we stop projecting and acting unconsciously–the children we know, live with and serve reap the benefits of our awareness.
My therapeutic experiences with the children who you meet in my book illustrate the power of resonant, attuned interaction to change even deeply entrenched neurological patterns.
The following is one of the stunning interludes of miraculous change that I was privileged to witness.
- See and experience your adult brain as resilient and responsive.
- Know that relationships shape development and interact accordingly.
- Explore your own patterns of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system dominance as a way to comprehend these arms of the nervous system. Then do the same for the children in your care.
- Investigate the role of your prenatal and birth experiences in shaping your development. This may require asking some questions of your parents, relatives, and siblings. Then reflect on those circumstances for children. Put this early history into your perspective on sensory integration.
- Note how and when children and youth in your care activate you in specific ways. Find and use appropriate mechanisms to sort those responses so you do not project them. Take responsibility for your activation, track, and resolve it and you will gain a wealth of self-knowledge. This will enhance considerably your capacity to anchor a child with sensory needs through the vehicle of your relationship with them.
- Pay attention to the timing and rhythms of the neurodiverse children and youth in your care. How can you honor and respect those rhythms in your relationship and therapeutic exchanges? Look and ask for confirmation that you understand rhythmic needs appropriately.
- Consciously practice using your brain as an anchor to stabilize a child’s growth and development. You do this when you are fully present and empathic. Let the stability of your brain and heart act as gravity for a neurodiverse child.
- Use advocacy as a therapeutic intervention.
- Value your relationships with the neurodiverse children and youth you serve and trust the validity of your careful, non-judgmental observations of them.
If our interactions are differentiated and attuned, then we can be confident that those interactions help children’s brains to develop. If interactions are not attuned, respectful, present and aware then our interactions may create the opposite effect and downgrade development.
We can choose to upgrade through consciousness or downgrade through projection. (Tweet this quote.) While we cannot control all the interactions that our children have we can certainly do our best to assure that positive, growth oriented experiences are in the majority. When a child’s baseline experience is securely attuned then the impact of a non-attuned interaction is lessened.
Dr. Stephanie Mines is a psychologist whose unique understanding comes from her academic research as well as her extensive work in the field. Her stories of personal transformation have led many listeners to become deeply committed to the healing journey. Dr. Mines understands shock from every conceivable perspective. She has investigated it as a survivor, a professional, a healthcare provider, and as a trainer of staffs of institutions and agencies. Meet Stephanie.