TrAnSfOrMiNg CoPiNg to living with autism using NLP
Using NLP to really understand the inner world of Autism & Enable Children & Adults to Connect with Self & Others
And this is why I use NLP as a Life Coaching, Relationship Coaching & a Solution Focused problem Solving & Intervention Tool...
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
NLP is the STUDY of the STRUCTURE of the SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE...
...a model of human behaviour, learning and communication...
... this means this model is a brilliant model to...
study the Structure of the Subjective Experience of a Child or an Adult living with Autism
more deeply understand their inner and outer world experience
enable them to connect with 'SELF' & 'OTHER' in a way they can relate and engage...
Wow! What a revelation!
I am an NLP Master Practitioner, accredited by the International NLP training Association (INLPTA) and a member of the Association of NLP (ANLP).
How we use our neurology (thinking) to construct (program) our reality of the world; using feedback from *all our senses to give meaning and make sense of the world and how that thinking influences how we represent our past, present and future experiences...
*(Visual (seeing), Auditory (hearing), Kinaesthetic (feelings), Olfactory (smell), Gustatory Taste))
How we communicate the meaning we have placed on our experiences from our past memories, present realities and our future possibilities to ourselves and others...
Programming (meaning and thinking)
NLP is holistic, person-centred and self solution focused because the practitioner coaches the client to explore all their sensory and neurological feedback and this enables them to explore their problems from a bigger perspective; hearing more options and feeling empowered to search for and find more possible ways to achieve their intended immediate goals and long term life outcomes. This often transforms their life into a more positive and fulfilling adventure. Additionally, because all the feedback and possible options are coming from within themselves, the client is more likely to achieve their goals and desired life outcomes.
The 'sensory and neurological feedback' I am referring to is from the client's vision, hearing, feelings (internal and external), taste and smell as well as
all three neurological minds;
the head (cognitive),
the heart (emotional)
the gut (instinctive) - we have neurons in all these three areas;
from the body (the somatic nervous system - via voluntary and involuntary feedback and body movement, often in response to music or to express a representation of an emotional state);
and what is described in NLP as the 'Field Mind' (which is the 'energy field.' You may notice and experience this when entering a room and 'feeling' the atmosphere or the 'collective energy' created in a room from the peoples interactions, thoughts and behaviours.
The exciting news is that NLP techniques, linguistics and modelling relate to and compliment much of what we know about the effects of autism on a person's ability to function to their full potential.
For some peer-reviewed research from Psychotherapy and Education Journals, please click here.
Learning about NLP as a model for creating well-formed outcomes in our lives, self discovery and creating new possibilities, helps us understand how we construct our reality of the world around us and how we can create our desired future; effectively planning what we want to achieve and become the best we can be. No-one experiences the world exactly the same way because we all have and have had different sensory, emotional, mental and physical experiences and we attach and have attached our own meanings to those experiences to make sense of it all. Someone with autism experiences the world through their senses in either an increased or a lesser intense way, or fluctuating between the two, than a typically developing person. They often see, hear, feel, smell and taste with extremely heightened sensory feedback (hyper-sensitive) or very diminished sensory feedback (hypo-sensory) creating their own meaning of this feedback and communicate it to themselves and others in the best way they can with the resources they have to do this at the time; if not verbally to others, by their behaviour or through an alternative means of communication.
When a person experiences hyper-sensitivity of all their senses at once, this causes what is described as sensory overload, subsequently generating a communicating behaviour to process, express and cope with it. When a person experiences hypo-sensitivity, it can be explained similarly to when your arm goes 'dead' after sleeping on it and therefore shaking or flapping your arm would be a way of regaining the feeling in it. This is not the only reason children and adults with autism display repetitive behaviours of course, sometimes it creates a calming state within themselves, as Donna Williams describes how spinning used to calm her when she was a child and there can be many other explanations and reasons for these behaviours for each individual.
Maybe you can imagine how you would feel if everything happening around you, everything you could see, hear, feel, smell and taste all came at you at full speed and volume at once! Could you focus on any one thing? How would you communicate this? How would you behave? I would want to scream, put my hands over my ears, and/or throw myself on the floor and have a ‘meltdown!’ Wouldn't you?
When you experience thinking, seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting and smelling your world using the structures, techniques, attitude, methodology and models of excellence from NLP, you can:
- understand, change and control your physical, emotional and mental states (e.g. from anxiety to calm);
- find and replace/change behaviours you don't want and generate new behaviours you do want to do;
- change disliking something to liking it and liking something to disliking it;
- discover and change limiting beliefs;
- find the triggers which create unwanted states and behaviours and change the behaviours which are un-resourceful for you into more resourceful behaviours;
- explore a desired outcome (goals/targets/ideas/dreams) to see if it is well-formed (well thought through) and explore the effects of it on everyone who may be involved when you achieve it (what you and others will gain, lose etc.) as well as how it will affect the world around you and beyond;
- explore and discover others' perspectives (points of view) to understand what is needed to resolve a problem you may have with another person and what you can do to solve it;
- move forward when you feel ‘something’ is holding you back from achieving what you want;
- cure phobias;
- access a positive or resourceful state of mind or of being, whenever you want or feel you need it to empower you to take action;
- prepare yourself to be in the most resourceful and useful state for new situations and environments;
- explore and discover and rediscover resources you already have and are already using in other situations and aspects of your life and learn how to use them in any new situations or contexts to help you achieve what you want;
- model excellence in people who are achieving what you want and discover how they do it so you can have or create it for yourself too!
- explore a role in your life; e.g. who you are when you are in a specific role in your life such as...a student; a friend; a son/daughter; sister/brother; a mother/father; being an employee/self employed; being you...who are you? Which roles in your life do you like/dislike and/or want to change? How can you make those changes? ...you can discover what it means to you to be you; how important it is to be you and not who others say you should be; how you can become who you want to be and be the best possible you in all your roles in your life, now and for the rest of your life...
Some NLP pre-suppositions (beliefs/principles) that the practitioner supposes in order to sponsor you to achieve your desired outcomes:
‘There is no failure only feedback.’
‘Every behaviour has a positive intention to the person creating that behaviour.’
‘If you carry on doing the same things you will get the same result.’
‘Your mind and your body are indivisible parts of the same system.’
‘You cannot not communicate.’
'The map is not the territory.'
'NLP is about going there first!'
This means that I have experienced all the models within the NLP model that I coach whilst I was training or since and I know how they can make the difference that makes the difference to my life when I acknowledge there are other meanings to those I create and I choose what meaninings I want to believe, choose my communicating and remember that the way I communicate to myself creates my behaviour. As an individual, a PArent Carer, wife, daughter, sister and NLP Master coach, I can appreciate how amazing using NLP can be for you too! My daughter can tell me how useful she finds it now and I can relay her experiences of using NLP to those of you who also have autism but remember her map is not your map and you will have your own positive experience of NLP when you experience using it for yourself....
As soon as I started to train as a practitioner, I immediately experienced the powerful and empowering affects of NLP. I started using more positive, productive and resourceful language in my mind as well as when speaking to others and by changing my responses and behaviours to others' behaviours, the outcomes of previously repetitive situations that had usually resulted in frustrating, exhausting outcomes which were not at all helpful or healthy for the whole family, changed.
I practice using NLP as an attitude and methodology in my everyday life. My daughter says it helps her feel good, asks me to Coach her and use hypnosis with her regularly and I am constantly seeing positive changes in her communication, behaviours, anxiety, understanding and her learning, both educational and personal development; being able to appropriately identify and understand her own emotional states, moods, experiences and reality of the world better. Also, her tutors at college have seen many positive changes in her development and learning since we have been using NLP to help her overcome difficult situations which often lead to high anxiety.
This means it is a model to enable us to understand the Structure of how an individual experiences their reality of the world and how they achieve the results they do and how they can change this if they wish.
This also emphasises how important it is for our beliefs and intentions towards others need to be positive and forward thinking!
Psychology research has already proven how the beliefs that a teacher holds about her students affects their work and their educational outcomes and neuroscience has shown with fMRI, how the brain responds to beliefs and this is how placebos work!
We can use NLP as a 'psychologial tool' to explore how someone with an 'autistic brain' is creating their thoughts as an individual and how they structure their thoughts to communicate to themselves (thinking) and with others, verbally and non-verbally (through their body language), and subsequently how their thoughts and communication affects their behaviours towards themself and others and we can also study how they achieve some of the savant and other skills they can do!
This means we can better understand the behaviours we see from people with autism and we can take responsibility and realise that we can decide whether our behaviour towards them is the most helpful and resourceful for both of us to achieve the overall desired outcome. We can explore and discover the choices we have to change our behaviour to make the differences that will make the difference to anyone in any context.
This is enabling and empowering for the person with autism because they can develop and learn to adapt new methods and skills through their subjective experiences rather than through another's objective instruction.
It is well known and recognised that to help an autistic child or adult to learn new skills, they need structure in all aspects of their learning environment and I believe that this includes their learning of social relationships, interaction and communication which will have a positive affect on their sensory experience of the world, their communication and behaviour. NLP has this much needed structure in the form of models of excellence. Additionally, children and adults with autism like 'rules' to follow. Rules help them by providing a procedure and frame to understand and cope in different situations. Breaking down tasks in to smaller chunks or building up chunks into one big chunk to 'see the big picture' helps them to achieve the desired learning end result; anchoring positives resources they use in certain situations and enabling them to use them in different situations creates adaptability and generalization of skills as well as retain new skills and you can do all this very effectively using the attitude, methodology, neurological reprogramming, linguistics, somatic syntax, the understanding of the three minds and models of excellence of NLP.
Using NLP gives the child or adult more choice and control over what they want to achieve and this is important because despite the well-meaning structures in place in Education and Health environments currently for someone with autism, choice and control over what they want is often very limited, inflexible and not inclusive within their learning environment; their subjective experiences are often not considered in order to understand their way of thinking to enable them to learn in the most effective way for them personally or offered in a way that is most meaningful and outcome focussed from their 'map of reality!'
A conformist approach is less resourceful and productive than a person-centred, subjectively considered and jointly outcome focussed one.
My daughter, Farrah loves me to use Ericksonian Hypnosis with her before bedtime! She calls it 'meditation' and says it helps her relax and go to sleep and have lovely dreams! She uses NLP to control her anxiety when she needs to by having a 'calm' anchor (a pressure point on her finger which she activates by applying pressure); I have coached her to explore and have confidence in using her own ideas instead of her needing and wanting repetitive reassurance and approval from me and/or her teachers because she used to worry there is a right or wrong way to do creative work; such as her textiles, art or photography work.
Heuristically, when using NLP, the choices for change, other options, opportunities and alternative behaviours are not suggested by the practitioner, the teacher, parent, carer or anyone else; instead the person explores and chooses them as they are being Coached and this means they are more likely to remember and do them to achieve what it is they are wanting or needing. I find that at the initial stage of any client session, is the best time to discuss advocacy for situations and mentoring where advice and suggestions can be made as a resource foundation for Coaching later in that session or within a separate one in the future.
When a child or adult does not have the resources they need to make the changes they want or need, the practitioner can teach a model of excellence to the child/adult to enable them to learn a skill as a resource and be more independent next time they are faced with a smiliar scenario and/or in another context. When a client wants to learn a specific new skill and the client and practitioner do not know how to do it or a model from which to learn it, then a Master Practitioner is trained to go out into the world to model someone who is excellent at performing that specific skill and to create the most useful way to teach and transfer it to their client. This is called 'Modelling' and how all the original models of NLP were created from the exemplars Fritz Perles, Milton Erickson and Virginia Satir.
With NLP we can explore how the solutions can be found within the problems using modelling and by considering the problems in a different context; or where a certain behaviour, which is considered inappropriate in one environment, can be useful and most appropriate in a different environment and context.... as well as exploring where certain unhelpful emotional states can be very helpful in other contexts and therefore it would not be ecological or ethical to eliminate these behaviours or emotional states completely using any technique, strategy or suggestion...instead we can help the client explore which contexts are more appropriate and ecological for a specific behaviour or emotional state and coach them to transfer them to those contexts and anchor this to support this change...how amazing is all this?
Some NLP History:
NLP was co-founded by Richard Bandler and John Grinder following their study of the subjective experiences and modelling of three exemplars of excellence in their own fields of work; Virgina Satir, a social worker who is said to be the founder of Family Therapy; Fritz Pearls, founder of Gestalt therapy and Milton H. Erickson, M.D., a Psychiatrist and Hypnotherapist whose student, Robert Dilts has been a developer, author, trainer and consultant in the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming since its creation in 1975 by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. A long time student and colleague of Grinder and Bandler, Robert also studied personally with Gregory Bateson.
The 'legendary psychiatrist and hypnotherapist,' Milton Erickson whose techniques for hypnosis are taught within NLP and often referred to as 'Ericksonian Hypnotherapy,' is cited by his student, Stephen Gilligan PhD in the book 'Walking in Two Worlds' (2004) as saying,
'A person's idiosyncrasies, the things that set them apart from others, are prime bases for this transformational process.'
'Your differences and distinctiveness are what make you an individual; they are the basis for both your happiness and helpfulness (ie. your contribution to the world).'
Gilligan goes on to say,
'This is a marked contrast to the mainstream expectation that each person should fit into expected norms and frameworks. The problem with such expectations, of course, is that no person can really fulfill them. Indeed, one of the roots of suffering and self-hatred lies in between what you think you should be and what you experience yourself to be.'
NLP is Person-Centred, Positive, Holistic, an attitude, methodology and a tool that can be used in education and therapeutic settings and any other environment, for the well-being, life learning and a move towards creating excellence for everyone.
What started, for me, as an idea for an ideal tool to use with Parents and Carers primarily, transformed into an exciting new way to live my life, help my family and to explore and discover the reality of the world of those living with autism and support them to be better understood and achieve their potential and aspirations in life. The attitude, methodology, models of excellence and presuppostions of NLP seem perfect for a positive, forward thinking, resource creating a Life Coaching Model and Tool.
As far as I am aware and I have been told by enquirers and clients, I am the first to specialise in using NLP to more deeply understand & connect with the internal & external subjective realities of adults & children with autism; to enable them to connect with ‘self ‘ & ‘other’ & make the positive changes they want to make to achieve their aspirations and to have a more fulfilling & happy future; and who also has a Master of Arts degree in Autism with over 19 years of personal experience of living with, extensively researching and implementing the many other interventions and disciplines within the autism field. I have been working with clients with autism of all abilities in language and communication (including 'selective' mute clients) and with varying degrees of behaviours and there is... always a way to communicate... to make the difference that will make the difference...and to move forward toward progress and achieve a greater potential...
For those of you who like 'evidence based' information from peer-reviewed journals...here are a couple of quotes...
'NLP is an efficient intervention, which is on par with other, well-established psychotherapeutic techniques'
(Stipancic et al., 2010).
Compared to SMART goals and targets -
'well-formed outcomes offer a more rigorous and holistic approach, by taking greater account of the learner's identity, affective dimensions (feelings and emotions), social relations and values, as well as encouraging mental rehearsal.'
(Day & Tosey, 2011)
If you feel curious enough to explore and experience the enabling and empowering effectiveness of NLP and want to be awakened to achieve your ideas and aspirations for your life and want to make them a reality and this sounds amazing to you and if you want to transform your life from coping to living with autism and you want a Life Coach who understands the challenges of everyday living with autism please contact me. I am passionate to start working with you now to help you become the best you can be for yourself and your family....
Peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness and potential of using NLP in Education & Psychotherapy:
Kudliskis. V. 2013. NLP and altered states encouraging preparation for learning in the classroom for students with SEN. British Journal of Special Education, 40 (2). UK: NASEN
Day.T & Tosey.P.2011.Beyond SMART? A new framework for goal setting.The Curriculum Journal. Vol. 22, (4), pp.515-534. Routledge.
Stipancic, M.; Renner, W.; Schütz, P.; Dond, R. 2010. The effects of Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy on psychological difficulties and perceived quality of life. Counselling and Psychology Research. Vol. 10 (1), pp. 39-49. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Routledge.
Tosey, P. & Mathison, J. 2010. NLP as an innovation in Education and Teaching. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47 (3), pp. 317-326. Routledge.
Einspruch, E. & Forman, D.1985. Observations concerning research literature on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 32 (4), pp. 589-596. American Psychological Association Inc.
Buckner, M. & Meara, N. 1987. Eye movements as an indicator of sensory components in thought. Journal of COunselling Psychology, 34 (3), pp. 283-287. The American Psychological Association Inc.
Carey,J. et.al. 2010. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Learning: teacher case studies on the impact of NLP in education. [WWW] https://www.cfbt.com/en-GB/Research/Research-library/2010/r-neuro-linguistic-programming-and-learning-2010