- It's such a great opportunity to have everyone together for our first Autism in Education professional learning webinar of this year's school series and it's so exciting to be able to welcome back Dr. Linda LeBlanc. Some of you may have participated on her webinar. I think it's probably maybe three years ago, two and a half years ago now. Dr. LeBlanc joined us for a webinar presentation which, if you haven't had the opportunity to listen to it, is available on our Autism in Education website so it is archived there for your viewing pleasure at your convenience if you're interested. Dr. LeBlanc has been a great supporter and a great advocate for our APSEA community in the past. She's certainly been very, very generous with her time and with her resources and her expertise and she has some connection to the Atlantic provinces, as you may guess from her surname. She does have some connections to the Acadian community here in Atlantic Canada. So it's very exciting to bring her to join us by webinar. Dr. LeBlanc also has experience teaching at the university level. She has clinical experience working with individuals with autism, with behavioral challenges of a variety of ages and needs. She's been involved with Trumpet Behavioral Health and she's also done a lot of really fascinating work in behavioral gerontology. So I'm not going to go into her entire, her career and her bio because you can certainly read that in some of the information that's gone out, but I can certainly say that she brings a wealth of experience and a wide range of opportunities and expertise to us, and so it's very exciting to be able to have her here with us for an hour and a half or so this afternoon. And I will turn the presentation over to Dr. LeBlanc, so thank you so much for joining us. - Thank you, Shelley, for that wonderful introduction. I'm delighted to be here and always happy to be able to reconnect with my wonderful Canadian colleagues in the Atlantic provinces. And what I'm gonna be talking about today is the first part of a few presentations that are gonna focus on leadership skills. So if you are here today, you are a leader in your community and one of the things that I would love to know if you still have that chat box open, please, what is that professional community? Are you a BCBA? A speech-language pathologist? A teacher? A school principal? A combination of those things? What's your background and how do you kind of identify yourself? We've got teacher, social worker, teacher and BCBA, SLP, a nurse, wonderful. Okay, a learning specialist. Autism specialist. A school principal, school psychologist, early years autism specialist, resource teacher. So really, a wide range of backgrounds, and thank you so much. Outreach workers, this is great. So for each of you, you are likely, you are part of a larger community that serves individuals with autism and you are a leader in that community and this question of, well, who is the leader? You are. And if you behave like a leader and people follow you, then you are a leader. Leadership occurs at all levels of organizations. That is the principal is certainly the leader of a school, but every teacher, every support professional, every person in that school can behave in ways that lead people towards a better-functioning school. And unfortunately, you can also lead people astray as easily as you can lead them to success. For many years as a professor, I worked with individuals who were about, I was teaching them and they were about to be entering the professional workforce, some of them for the first time. Perhaps they had always been at university and then they were going to get that graduate degree and get out there, and they needed to be aware that the ways that they behave in their larger community could, in fact, establish not-so-great patterns in that community. So for example, if you've ever been in an environment that was relatively positive but one or two very negative people came in, really, you know, down and speaking a lot about the negative or gossiping and behaving in ways that make it a little hard for all of us in the workplace, what you might see is others gravitate to that. That is, people were led astray, so to speak and we can just as easily do that as lead them to success. So these first three presentations, this one on perspective taking, we'll also do one on problem solving, and we'll also do one on effective meetings, are really all about being a leader in your organization to lead in a positive way. So, my title slide said that perspective taking is a pivotal leadership skill and today we're gonna be talking about pivotal. Now, many of you may be familiar with this term because it is somewhat commonly used in early intensive behavioral intervention. In fact, maybe you've even heard of what's called pivotal response training. That's a form of behavioral treatment for autism that focuses on spending a lot of time to teach those core, pivotal skills and the word pivotal refers to those skills that create broad impact on multiple repertoires. For example, when we focus on teaching, attending, flexible attending and shifting of attention, what we start to see is that not only is attending better, but a variety of different learning indicators go shooting through the roof. Similarly, with imitation, when we teach someone to be able to imitate, they are now able to learn differently and you will see increases in social behavior, play behavior, language, so many different domains if we focus on these pivotal skills that often allow better learning and a better way to succeed, given the demands of the world for our students and clients. Well, guess what? It's not just little ones who are, you know, with autism, that have these pivotal skills. There are different pivotal skills at different points in the lifespan and we'll talk about a few of them, things like reading, driving, time management, perspective taking. Reading is one that I really think is critical because if you are in school, we are learning to read until about third grade. We're evolving our reading skills and then after about third grade, you are not learning to read, you are reading to learn. Virtually all of your academic tasks involve you needing reading as a critical skill to be able to gain the information and to benefit fully from the instruction. And so those who cannot read by third grade, there are a variety of studies show that they have a very different academic and social trajectory. Let's think about driving. Driving is a pivotal skill in those later teenage, young adult years. And you might say, well, how is that pivotal? Of course, you have to learn how to do it. Well, once you have learned to drive, there are a bunch of different things that now are available and possible for you in a way that they weren't before. For example, you might now think about getting a job. You might also think about different social opportunities with your friends that you might not have pursued before because you would have had to have had someone drive you there. You also can make more decisions independently, et cetera. So that skill, and it's a complex one, of driving a car now allows a whole lot of other skills and adult decision-making to begin to emerge and flourish. One of the things that I always talked to both my undergraduate and graduate students about is time management. It's one of those pivotal professional skills. Throughout your life, it does not get simpler. It gets a little more complex. You are doing more things. You have more roles that you are juggling. You're no longer just a student. You may also be simultaneously a student and employed and a parent and caring for one of your family members, so many different things. And so being able to manage your time allows you, and to be able to do that in a really effective and efficient way, allows you to succeed in your workplace, in your home environment may allow you promotions. This kind of skill also can bring down your stress level, which can then increase your work enjoyment and even career sustainability. So this skill really allows a whole lot of other things to develop and emerge. And I view perspective taking as a pivotal skill. So, what do we mean by that? Well, perspective taking is something I've long been interested in and I've even done some research on this, particularly with children with autism, but the notion is this. This picture shows two individuals and they stand at a different vantage point and that vantage point gives them their perspective on what is in front of them. What is in front of them on the ground are simply lines, straight and curved lines. That's it. That's all. We give those straight and curved lines a name and they give it a different name based on their perspective with respect to the thing that they are seeing and they see that thing differently because they have a different perspective. Now, when we think about perspective, it's often not so simple as we're each on one side of the same thing. Very often, it's more like this adage where everyone is blindfolded and they're exploring different parts of an elephant and the fact that they are in very close contact with their own perspective and are not able to see a larger, multi-view perspective leads them to interpret what they're seeing falsely or interpret what they're feeling falsely. So the one at the end touches the point and says, "Oh, it's a spear." And another touches the ear, "It's a fan." On the flat side, "It's a wall." At the tail, "It's a rope." Every single person is incorrect. However, every single person is responding reasonably based on their incomplete information and their narrower perspective and if the blindfold were off and they had the full perspective, they would all likely say, "Oh, it's an elephant." So perspective taking, really, it involves understanding that you, from your perspective, see, know, feel, think, hear certain things and you predict the behavior of others based on that knowledge, those feelings, what you see, what you hear, what you think. This is how we experience the world and make sense of things. We would be very hard-pressed to get along socially if we were not able to predict other people's behavior. But what we know is that particularly individuals with autism really struggle with this skill because perspective taking really requires two things. The first part is that discrimination between the things that you, my perspective is what I see, hear, feel, know, think, and another person's perspective is not identical to mine. It is the things that they see, hear, know, and think and those may be quite different than mine. So it is that discrimination and the prediction of another person's behavior as controlled by their own perspective, what they see, what they hear, what they know, what they think, even and especially when it differs from your own perspective. So this is a common perspective taking task from the cognitive psychology and developmental literature. You may well have heard of it. It's called the Sally-Anne Task and it was developed in the UK by their many researchers who focus on perspective taking. So we see one girl and her name is Sally and she stands by the red cupboard. And then we see this other girl, Anne, by the blue cupboard. In the next slide, Sally puts her ball in the red cupboard and then Sally walks away. Well, Anne moves the ball to the blue cupboard. So please get your chat box open because I'm gonna ask you a few questions. In this perspective taking task, we typically ask a series of questions. One of them is, do you know what actually happened? So, where did Sally put the ball? And you can just type in red or blue, please. Where did Sally put the ball? Great. Very good. Now, where is the ball now? Great. Now we're all saying blue because we're older than four years old and we're doing fantastic. And now here's that question. Where will Sally look for her ball? Predict Sally's behavior. And now all of a sudden, you're saying red cupboard. Yes. And so now let me ask you this. Why will Sally look in the red cupboard? She doesn't know it's been moved. That's where she put it. She knows she put it in the red box and she does not know that it's been moved to the blue one. Perfect. She has a more limited amount of information than Sally does, and this leads her to perhaps look somewhere where the ball will not be. This is very difficult for children with autism and they will very consistently respond, Sally will look in the blue cupboard because that's where the ball is. So they are predicting Sally's behavior based on their own perspective rather than Sally's perspective. Now, these tasks get more difficult and more difficult. As we get older, we're not only predicting where someone will look for their ball. We are also interpreting people's behavior with respect to the why. So here is what I think is a very interesting question and you might work on this with your 10-year-olds with ASD. Why did Anne move the ball? Ho-ho. Now we have a whole 'nother level of intuiting. Yes. Yes, not sure. To hide it from Sally? We don't know, that's right. Could be to hide it. Could be that she's mean. It could be she might have wanted to put it in that blue one. She may have thought, I'm going to play a wonderful prank on my friend and I want to save it and I'm gonna hide it and then I'm gonna pop out when she looks for it and say, "Surprise, I moved it." So there are all of these reasons why Sally might have done it. They're plausible. We don't know which one is true. And if you were to say, like, well, what questions would I ask to try to get the answer if I couldn't ask Anne directly? You might ask things like, are Sally and Anne good friends? Is that Anne a jokester and a prankster? Do they get along well or not like to play together? And so all of these different variables, they're really about what is their history? What is their experience? What are their feelings for each other and how might that influence our prediction? This is the basis of all of our interactions with other people in social context. And what has been shown is that particularly for children who are maybe somewhat more impulsive and maybe have some problems with their social relationships or some aggressiveness, they often immediately jump to negative intent as the likely reason, even when there are other plausible explanations. Well, so you can begin to see how pivotal perspective taking is for our social relationships. In fact, perspective taking is critical in your evolved professional skills related to sympathy, empathy, understanding others, and being able to change your social behavior based on that understanding. So this really is not only a pivotal leadership skill, it's a pivotal social skill for all individuals, but I would say for sure, it is a pivotal leadership skill. And the reason that I say that it's a pivotal leadership skill is because really exceptional perspective taking will improve your communication, your problem solving and decision making, your emotional responsiveness and emotion management, and your organization and time management, all of which are critical professional leadership repertoires, regardless of what your discipline is. So let's walk through how some of these skills are influenced by leadership. Let's talk about communication with and without perspective taking. Okay. On the left, I need to tell people some unpleasant thing or what have you and the messaging is generally all about me. I'm operating from my own perspective and maybe not thinking about how my communication is going to resonate with other people. So I might come into an ongoing meeting and interrupt and say, "Oh, I'm so sorry. "I was late because this happened "and this happened and this happened." And I'm thinking about the fact that I want to apologize and feel better about the fact that I was late, but I'm not thinking about the fact that everyone else's experience is now being disrupted and that might be annoying for them. Or how about this one? A decision-maker says to the people that he needs or she needs to convey information to, "I've thought about this and I have to make this decision, "even though I don't want to." Well, it could be that this person is knowing that others might not like this decision, but they're focusing the messaging on themselves. I've done this and I feel this way, rather than how the information is likely to be received by the listener. So, one of the ways we might talk about this is speaker control. I'm in my own head. I'm thinking about me and what I want to say. And with perspective taking, listener control. People likely need to hear this information or if they're going to hear it in a certain way, and if I can predict that, I change how I say it in a way that will make it more clear or it will impact them in a different way socially. So, for example, maybe I did have to make a decision that I don't like to make. Maybe in the middle of COVID, we have to do all of these things that we don't like and there's going to be a change. But if I've engaged in perspective taking, I might say, "We are going to make a change, which is always scary, "but I think that the change is going to get us X, Y, Z," maybe safety, comfort, what have you, "and I'm going to make the change or try to make the change "as easy as possible by doing one, two, three." So, in order to communicate like on this right side, you really need to have thought through how do people often respond to change? Okay. These people are likely to respond to change that same way, maybe with some fear or apprehension, and what is it about this decision that might make them apprehensive? Best that I name that and also best that I talk about what I might do in order to minimize some of those scaries. Well, now let's apply this idea of perspective taking to making a decision. Let's say you make a decision and you fully engage in perspective taking. That means you're gonna consider the near-term and the long-term impacts for all levels of people who are involved. Perhaps a student is going to be transitioning a classroom or a service or what have you and you think about, how will this affect their family? How will this affect their teacher? How will this affect their support professionals? How will this affect our assessment team or what have you? In doing so, you're taking the perspective of each of those people and allowing it to influence your decision. On the right side, if we did not engage in that perspective taking, thinking through these various impacts, we might make exactly the same decision or we might make a very different decision. Regardless, we're more likely to encounter what is called downstream impact. So what do I mean by that? This is actually a term from business and industry and it refers to the fact that when we make a change, we often intend to influence certain things, but we inadvertently influence a bunch of other things, as well. So when we make that change, whatever it is, it will often produce a change in what people do, their method, perhaps their machinery or processes, their manpower, their materials, all of those kinds of things, like for example, changing when a lunch period is at school will often have lots of different impacts. When we engage in perspective taking, what we're doing is we're thinking about, well, like, how might this impact these staff, these students, these families? What about our bus drivers and when they pick up? What about our other departments? So that notion of putting yourself in the perspective or actively seeking the perspective of these other people prior to making a decision typically allows you to make a decision that has fewer unintended negative effects and more direct beneficial effects. All right. Well, let's apply that idea of perspective taking to organization and time management. Let's say you think about your time and how you manage it and how you organize your schedule and you do so thinking about your own perspective, but also thinking about the perspective of others. You may be more likely to schedule things so that you can be sure that you've completed any assigned tasks before the due date. Why? Because those assigned tasks are a professional give to someone else who perhaps needs that information for their next step in the process or needs time to prepare with that information before a next thing in the process. So, if you are doing things on time, you then allow them their full time, as well. Perhaps you even schedule things with sufficient time to get from one thing to another and not hold people up or not need to cancel unexpectedly. So when you are doing this, whether you are purposefully thinking about exactly what effect it will have on other people, you're more likely to avoid having a negative effect on other people. If you approach your schedule very self-perspective-focused and not really thinking about others, you might schedule back-to-back meetings and run late from each one to the next. Well, from my own perspective, that's great for me because I got to check the boxes and I did all the things, but it's bad for the people who might be waiting for me when I'm late. So particularly, if people are going to hold the meeting until I get there, but they may be feeling frustrated, losing time, we may end up not having sufficient time to get everything done, perhaps I'm sending a message that this is less important than the other thing that I'm just coming from, and in doing that, overall stress increases and everyone suffers. And so when you think about as a leader in an organization, how many people are influenced by your schedule and your time management? And if you are organizing yourself, your time, and your activities in a way that is prompt and efficient and timely, other people may be stressed, but it won't be because of you, whereas if you're maybe not thinking about that and instead are maybe over-scheduling and over-committing, you might be inadvertently creating that downstream impact of stressing people out. Well, I think all of us, in some ways, work with families of our students or clients with autism and I think that each of these things, communication, problem solving, emotional responsiveness, organization and time management, also, if we engage in these with perspective taking, we are likely to be able to strengthen our interactions with families and even our colleagues. This notion of compassion, which is another topic that I find very important, compassion with families really requires that we engage in perspective taking and change our communication to resonate with their everyday experience of the stressors of their life, that we approach problem solving and decision making in a way that is compassionate and very often collaborative, that we understand that the families of children with autism often experience high levels of stress and perhaps are often quite sleep-fatigued, especially if their children don't sleep well. This could lead them to be a bit more emotionally responsive, and if we can manage our own emotions when interacting with them, we can assist them. So, let's think a little bit about family and BCBA perspectives. Or, you know, I'll walk through this, but you insert responses for your own perspective. So let's say the family thinks my child is the most important person in the world and the BCBA thinks, well, oh, yes, your child is very important, but is one of my many students or clients. I think teachers often feel this way. They absolutely want to respond as if every student they have is always simultaneously the most important one, but sometimes, another student might be in crisis and we are seldom in a situation where one teacher or one BCBA has only one client. Let's say the family is thinking, my child needs to participate in these different therapies, equine therapy, sensory integration therapy, floor time therapy, other ABA therapy, and maybe school or my treatment session should be flexed around those services. And we're thinking, wait a minute. We're delivering high-quality education or empirically-supported treatment and that should be prioritized and this little bit of a whole bunch of things might actually slow your child's progress. We sometimes will get, we feel stifled by how little time we actually get to work with these students and clients that we want so much to help. Well, what about this? Perhaps a family might think, I don't want to see my child struggle or get upset in sessions or class or any of that, which I totally understand that perspective, but we may also know that we need to push just a little bit, that learning occurs with challenge and that we've seen this kiddo settle right down and get to it and behave very differently when certain people are around versus others. Now, as you look at each perspective, my child's treatment's very personal and I want the entire team to feel like part of our family or the other perspective of we care about our families, but it's a professional relationship and we need to maintain some boundaries, or my culture, beliefs, and experiences impact how I interact with my child and set goals and sometimes we may feel like we're responsible for an effective intervention and the family's culture, beliefs might act as a barrier. Now, one of the things to keep in mind is that neither perspective is wrong, per se, but these differences often create some of our tensions and some of these perspectives could actually be barriers. For example, I am of the opinion that families' culture, beliefs are better off not perceived as barriers, but rather as points of learning and collaboration. It may mean that we end up doing something differently, but ultimately, this child with autism will always be a part of their own family and culture and beliefs. We are temporary. So in understanding this perspective of a family, this perspective of a BCBA, you know, I have often been the most senior-level clinical person in an organization, whether it was as part of school teams, at university faculty, executive director of an agency, and when families and providers were a bit at odds, I often was the one to come in and mediate a conversation. And one of the things that allowed me to best embrace that opportunity to build a stronger relationship was my ability to see both perspectives and to recognize how each person's behavior and responses were totally predictable, given their different perspective. And my goal was to come in and make statements that respected each perspective and contextualized compromise or harmonizing or some way to try to allow everyone to feel more effective moving forward. So here is another example. Let's say we are working with a child and the family is pushing for this child to learn to read. They really want this in their IEP goals. I already just told you how important reading is, but maybe the teacher and the BCBA are frustrated about the emphasis on this target because the child has no language, does not recognize any letters, can't scan really well, and engages in self-injury, particularly with very challenging tasks. So here are the teacher and the BCBA and they're feeling like, oh, my goodness, we're at loggerheads and we didn't mean to be, again. Maybe the family is thinking that a future school placement depends on the child learning to read. Maybe the parent's just seen an article or a presentation by me talking about reading as a pivotal skill and that sometimes, it's a skill that's neglected and they want to be an advocate. And so often, it is also the case that that parent is feeling a fear that their child will fall farther behind because they did not advocate the way that they could have. And in so many situations, I think that this is part of the burden that families bring to interactions with their provider professionals. Now, it's burden and it's opportunity. There is no one who wants to feel like a bad parent who has failed their child, literally no one, and yet, that fear could lurk. We might think, this parent is a tremendous advocate and so informed, but that little thing that they see, hear, know, feel that we're unaware of are these thoughts of, how am I responsible? How might this go badly? What if I don't do what I could have done? I'm the one that they have. Our ability to just create a little space to appreciate that these are reasonable things that they might be seeing, thinking, and feeling can make a push that we think is unreasonable. How can this parent think this child was ready to read when all of these other things are evident? Well, by engaging in this perspective taking, what we might see is why that motivation is so strong. Now, it may or may not be the right decision, but an understanding of this perspective may help the teacher or the BCBA who knows that the child doesn't have important prerequisite skills or that there are other skills that would be neglected or they feel afraid because they don't know how they would teach this skill to a child who is at this learning level. Well, engaging in the perspective taking is likely to allow the BCBA, teacher, whoever it might be to speak differently about this, and instead to say, perhaps maybe to praise this parent for being such a fantastic steward of their child's future and seeing how much they care and also talking with them about it may not seem like it, but when we focus on these skills and these skills and these skills, we are focusing on what we call pre-reading skills. That is their prerequisites to reading. And so we're doing all that we can to teach those skills as quickly as we can, but in fact, let me contextualize this as related to that future reading repertoire. And we might talk about, you know, we could actually spend more time on those prerequisite skills, but it would mean that we have to forego the time that we're currently putting into this one and this one and this one. You know, work with me and let's collaborate and make a choice about these priorities. Or perhaps you would even like to work on teaching these things at home if we create some instructional materials for you. So, in appreciating that there likely is another perspective, the decisions can be made differently, the communication occurs differently. So, when you think about it, the real question is this. How does seeing both sides or even assuming that there's another reasonable side change how you communicate and problem solve? So we look at this. The small person's saying, "It's deep," and the tall person's saying, "No, it's not." Well, of course it is for the smaller person and it isn't for the larger person. So when you think about engaging in perspective taking, it could change how you communicate and problem solve, almost always in positive, collaborative, compassionate ways. Let's talk through another one. How are we doing on time? Pretty good. Let's say there's an upcoming IEP or SEP team meeting. Different places call them different things, so, but we love those letters. And let's say the team does not agree on the behavior supports, and in fact, this little cartoon on the left side, do you know where we put those boxing gloves? Johnny's IEP meeting is in the morning and I want to be prepared. It would be wonderful if every IEP or SEP team meeting was perfectly collaborative and everyone agreed, but in fact, it often doesn't go that way. I don't know if you have these experiences in Canada, but in the U.S., sometimes these meetings really can lead people to feel a bit nervous, a bit apprehensive, and they might think, well, you know, depending on how much conflict there is, maybe the family would not sign the plan. We might come away from this important meeting without having an agreement on how to move forward. So let me just ask, if you'll chat in for me, does any of this ever happen for you? Have you ever been on a team where there, yes, there's an upcoming IEP and you just know, this one is going to be maybe we'll say a little higher energy, yes. It happens, and it happens because everyone cares a lot and very often, we are embracing the opportunity to really do something that is difficult and requires precision. You know, if you work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders your whole career, you will have many successes and you will have some failures because this is a comprehensive, pervasive developmental condition and we revel in those successes, but we know there will be some things that are difficult and that family is really knowing that often, their future hinges on the success perhaps of their school services, their ABA services, their speech-language services. So, if you think about what people uniquely think, know, feel, and how it might influence their communication, yes, here's one saying sometimes one caregiver is wanting the help, the other is reluctant to do so or perhaps they want two different things and even like I'm going to take that family perspective, there are multiple perspectives there, as well. So, absolutely. It can be challenging and it's just layer upon layer of perspective taking. Now, it's not that things get suddenly, magically rainbows and easy with perspective taking, but perspective taking increases the chances of everyone in the team feeling confident in their ability to collaborate. So let's say in this situation, we're not all on board as a school-based team about the behavior supports and the parent's going to come in and they may see that, and in seeing that, it may lead them to be very nervous about, you know, does anyone here know what we should be doing? So let's say there are other members of the interdisciplinary team that are focused on the parent being nervous about any program because their child has been injured at school before during a crisis situation, and the team may feel like they've tried to implement behavior plans before and they found them so effortful that they couldn't do them well after a few weeks. And some members of the team may fear that they might get hurt by the child while implementing the plan. And so this perspective is valuable and real. This is what these team members think, know, and feel about their own experience and this parent's experience. And the BCBA has what they've been designing perhaps this behavior plan and they know the function of behavior and that there's a very strong evidence base for functional communication training and they also know it's consistent with positive teaching values and it gives the student a way to communicate, but they also feel fear that the program will fail if the team doesn't really give it a try because when this program is done with what's called intermittent reinforcement or sometimes you reinforce the communication response and sometimes you don't, it's far more likely to fail. So each person is coming in with this perspective and if they can each appreciate, even if I don't know the other person's perspective, I'm sure there must be one that's leading to our disagreement, it might change how they communicate or problem solve. In fact, they might communicate by asking each other some questions and when we ask each other questions that come from a place of collaborative problem solving and we ask a question about something like, I see your reluctance and I'm assuming that there's something that you know and have experienced that I don't know, would you help me understand what makes you reluctant? When we ask a question that way, it gives us greater insight into that other person's perspective and that might lead us to say, oh, this makes good sense. Well, maybe what we need to do is start with this other component and then work our way into functional communication training later because independent functional communication is something that everyone values, but we need to address these issues with safety that I may not have been aware of. So asking those questions and then letting the answers influence how you make decisions, that's so important to communication and problem solving. In fact, in one of our later presentations in the spring, we're actually gonna talk about taking a collaborative problem-solving approach to select function-based treatments. So, let me say and wrap up with just a few thoughts and then we've got time for questions and answers and perhaps other examples. I do think that perspective taking is a pivotal leadership skill. The better you are at this skill, the more likely you are to influence people in your environment in a way that builds warmth, understanding, and inspires confidence in your leadership, and you don't have to have any kind of title to be a leader in your environment. If you are behaving in ways that are consistent with this, you will be perceived by others as a leader and creator of a positive work environment. Now, here's the thing. This Sally-Anne Task that we all passed, many three-year-old typically-developing children do not pass. By four and five, they almost all pass it. Children with autism often don't pass it until much later age or until they're explicitly taught this, but we can do this well. Most people can engage in perspective taking at a very nuanced and high level, but sometimes, we don't. So, for example, as a licensed clinical psychologist, in a therapy context, I am constantly engaging in perspective taking. It is part of how we do talk-based therapy. When I'm collaborating with families and helping others collaborate with families, I'm engaging in perspective taking. But there are times when I respond to my teenager in a way that hasn't fully appreciated the perspective of how hard it is to be growing up, to be having these experiences during a pandemic, to have worries and stressors that a teenager might have, and then I get a response that surprises me. Well, it doesn't surprise me once I engage in that perspective taking. So I am capable of perspective taking, but I don't always do it. So how do we prompt ourselves to engage in perspective taking in more situations where it would be helpful? My guess is there's no one who's listened today who thinks, oh, that perspective taking is for the birds. We don't want to do that. The issue is how we increase the likelihood that we really will use this skill in all of the situations where it could be helpful. I would say that I think outcomes and relationships change the more we engage in perspective taking. So what I would like to do is really open this up to a discussion and also questions, but let me begin with my question to you. You can chat or perhaps you can, yes, probably chatting is the best way to do it. But what will you do to prompt yourself to engage in perspective taking in any of the kinds of situations we've described today or even in other situations? How can you remind yourself about this skill? Sticky note in your environment, see it. You know, particularly let's say if you were going to be on phone calls or Zoom and you can have that on your computer, what a nice prompt. Stop and think and question before speaking. Great. Write it down. Make it as an agenda to think through. Practice think time or personal reflection. I think that is wonderful, yes. You know, and reflect daily, that's right. And, you know, with those reflections, there are times in the past where all of us maybe could have done better in perspective taking and we see the results of that, right? We call those little mishaps, and our clients do, too. Someone said do think time like we do with our students. Yes, and when we think about it, we see, oh, my goodness, well, I could have said that or I see how that person could respond that way. Protecting that opportunity, whether it is with the people in your classroom, in your school, your clients, families, that really is critical. Yes, being aware of your own triggers. Yes, that's right, and here's the thing, and recognizing other people don't know my triggers. That's what I see, think, know, feel and my response may seem very surprising to them. Yes. Families I'm working with, yes, understanding that they're in crisis, that they have a lot of things occurring that informed their decision. And we may feel like, oh, that decision seems shortsighted or what have you, but knowing other things like perhaps they are food-challenged or in poverty and just worried about some things, it may lead them to have to make very hard decisions that we don't understand if we don't understand their circumstances, and that's what perspective taking is. It's understanding their circumstances. You know, one of the things that I often prompt some of my older clients on the spectrum to do is, we may have done some visual support strategies where we think about perspective taking and we've kind of drawn out a bubble to represent this person's thoughts or kind of what's inside them. And maybe we'll put in there that they're feeling sad or they're afraid and they might be thinking, I don't know if you're going to want to be my friend or what have you. Well, I encourage them to imagine a bubble, before you start that interaction, imagine a bubble and just use that visual prompt for yourself to think about what's in their head, think about their feelings, and if you don't know, that's okay. Don't assume. We master our world by making some reasonable assumptions. We assume the car in front of us on the street is also going to stop at the stop sign. We assume that when the light turns green, the car will go. So many things. And then sometimes, that doesn't happen and our ability to recognize, am I assuming when I should not be assuming? Or if I did assume and things aren't going well, this is tension in this relationship, maybe there's something that I don't know or that this person feels something, knows something that's not available to me. Well, I think those are great ideas and thank you, Jennifer. Well, so let me open it up to all of you, and I'll stop sharing, but I would love to get any questions that you might have or if you want to chat through situations. So, Shelley, can you join me again? - Sure, absolutely, and thank you so much. If anybody has a question or an example you'd like to share or talk through, then certainly feel free to type that in the chat box or if you have the raise hand function on your screen, which you may have on the right-hand side or on the bottom and you want to try raising your hand, I can also see if I can enable your microphone and allow you to ask your question or share your example, as well. So I will keep an eye on the chat box and on the list here to see if anyone has any questions or is raising their hands. - Okay. What's the acronym CAM for? So that is Complementary and Alternative Medicine. And so what we will often see is that families of children on the spectrum may be pursuing many different kinds of interventions. They're just hoping that something will work. It could be certain vitamins, certain diets, certain injections, certain, oh, my goodness, lots of different kinds of procedures and in doing so, they all take some time, some effort, some attention and what have you and particularly if those appointments mean the child frequently being absent from school or sessions, you could have a different perspective on what that right use of time is. Great question. Okay, let's see. Particularly interested in resolving conflict with families or teams around non-evidence-based practice. This is a great question. So, you know, I think one of the things that I think is important to start with is, okay, what are the assumptions? And I am a clinical psychologist, but I'm also a scientist. I do research. I try to do research that really matters to families and practice, but my appreciation for the value of science is stronger than most people's and I also tend to approach the world in a very evidence-based, data-based way. So whatever it might be, I am often a prove it to me, oh, let's see if that works kind of person rather than just, oh, that sounds plausible. Surely it'll work. I may be willing to try it, but I'm gonna, ooh, I love that data. I want to seek that evidence. I might look at the research that's been done with others and also have my own data, but I also have to recognize that my premise or assumption or worldview is that that evidence-based approach is the way. You know, if you've watched this "Mandalorian" show on Netflix, this is the way. And that for many other people, that embracing of a science-minded approach may not be as important to them. Now, for some people, it may actually be they don't like science, but for most people, they just don't have that same worldview of everything to be approached in a scientific way. So for me, I have to engage in that perspective taking and know that the people I'm going to be talking to don't inherently share that value with me, so I have to speak in everyday ways that establishes that value through things that they do value. And most people value honest curiosity and open-mindedness and a let's do it, prove it to me perspective. And so when conflicts arise about whether something is evidence-based or not or it is evidence-based, but we don't want to do it, or we want to do this, but it's not evidence-based, when I'm talking with others, I really try to engage in that perspective taking on what is their likely background with those ideas and terms and can I speak about this a different way? And if my talking a little bit about the literature on something, perhaps I've got six or eight studies and unfortunately that strategy hasn't proven very effective, I would be happy to share it if anybody wants to see that, it just makes me a little concerned about resource allocation. If that's not convincing or what have you, then what I might say is, well, you know, if as a whole team, we really feel like we've got the resources to try this, then would anybody mind if I just indulged my curiosity? And just let's evaluate this carefully, because of course, we want to be wise user of our resources. And so if this works, then yes, we keep doing it. And if we're not seeing those effects, I think maybe we come back for a decision and we do it based on how it's working for this child. So in both of those ways, I think that I am still behaving consistently with my perspective and values about science and about data, but I'm also allowing for the fact that not everyone might share that impression or information and I kinda take a two-pronged approach, educate a little bit, collaborate a lot, but ultimately remind all of us of our responsibility to do as much good as we can in the limited time that we have. - Thank you. I see there's a question in the Q and A box that popped up, as well, and the question is, how would you approach helping a young student to see perspective after a conflict situation once they've de-escalated? Leading questions, for example. - Yes. So, you know, there are some nice supports for perspective taking, let's say. And, you know, it's not just children on the spectrum. Let's say you have a child who maybe has ADHD or some learning struggles and they're just very emotionally disregulated. They don't have to have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis to struggle with this. So, there are a few different approaches with some nice materials out there. There is one approach that kind of calls it a social autopsy. I don't super love that because it's talking about dead things and I don't want the person to think my relationship with that person is dead. So, you know, maybe you just change the words if you don't like that, but the notion is that we're gonna look back on this situation and see what happened and maybe why that happened and what the results are. There are also some nice resources, and you know what, Shelley, I can find maybe a list of these and email to you, but a couple of the people, I think there's a good workbook out there, Ruth Anne Rehfeldt I think has a nice curriculum for this and if I'm not mistaken, Adel Najdowski, who used to be the curriculum person at CARD, has some nice both research and just resources on teaching perspective taking. But it really walks them through that what did I see, think, hear, feel? What might this person have seen, thought, felt? And in the beginning, what you might do is as the better perspective taker, you walk them through. I think this person probably thought blah, blah, blah, and the way their facial expression changed makes me think. So, you're really pointing them to these clues that are apparent and how those clues relate to what is not apparent. And again, I have them draw and write, here are the things that I'm realizing are in their head, in their heart, their feelings, their what have you. And so over time, you might be able to get to the point where you ask the question, tell me how you think they felt and why do you think that way? Sad, you know, like frown, the sad face, right? Like their face looked sad. They cried. You know, whatever it might be. But you're really focused on, you know, I think for so many of our students who struggle with this, this social behavior seems a mystery. It's just, it's baffling to them and they are not noticing these subtle, very subtle to them, very noticeable to us, these subtle indicators or they're not thinking through how would you feel in the same situation? So sometimes, I'll have them talk through a time when something like that happened to them and how did they feel? And then I bet this person felt that way, too, and I'm putting those words in their kind of head bubble. So that's just a quick and easy description, but there are some nice resources and workbooks out there that focus on this and how we can do this with that student. Oh, and someone's saying they make that table of what the school wants, needs, what I want, need, what this student wants, needs, if it's a between-student conflict. I think that's great. Shelley, do you see another question that I might've missed? - I do see one other question around, what are your thoughts and opinions around having more than one educational assistant or more than one interventionist working with new students who are in primary or kindergarten or first grade and who may be nonverbal? - And so I think you mean like it's not just the one single aide, but there is really a couple of people who will. You know, here's the thing. Nobody likes change and our little precious peanuts can be a little rigid. And we have to, every day, in every way, be just pushing a little bit on those boundaries of flexibility in order to increase the likelihood that they are going to be able to succeed in a variety of settings with a variety of people. And so I do think that it is a good idea that different people become comfortable working with the child and the child be comfortable working with different people. That really is going to pay dividends years and years down the road. However, parents can also be fearful and a little rigid, and as a parent, I can be fearful and rigid when it comes to my child. So when I engage in that perspective taking, if I were in a situation where I did want a couple of let's say one-to-one supports and they would be available on different days, at different times, but really work together as a team, maybe if I thought a parent was reluctant to do that because they want that one that they know that they can trust and can you go to second grade with them? Can you go to third grade with them? Can you go to fourth grade with them? What I always talk about is how flexibility and change are going to matter to the one thing this parent cares about more than anything else in the world, the rest of this child's life as a meaningful future. And so knowing, this is what they care about, this is what they feel, and in the presence of fear, we might make a right now decision, I talk about how for the rest of his life, this child will be encountering different people and that's a good thing. That's what all of us do every day and we want to give him that same good future and we want to prepare him to be able to be okay with different people and that means establishing new relationships, maintaining old ones, and that here's how we're going to kind of chart a path of building that flexibility and making him more capable and independent for the future and I tie it to those things that the family really does care about, you know? Yeah, and then if you do, so here's the fear is non-consistency throughout the day. And so that's important, like if you know, okay, but I have a history of Tuesdays are always horrible 'cause that's when such and so is there, then what you have to do is I think communicate and then live that commitment to fostering consistency among the team. And you have to be able to communicate what it is you will do that will increase that consistency because of course, it doesn't happen and that parent may actually have data. I've seen it happen, not so great. And what they're going to need is a reason to believe that it can happen differently. So I've come up with all kinds of strategies, like let's say, for example, you'll have a kiddo who's just starting to be able to say words and you want to make sure everybody's holding to a good criteria and he can say it better than that. I use little quick audio recordings that we're gonna, when you come in in the morning, you're gonna hear those audio recordings of those four or five words. So it really becomes about communication. Capture a little video of that last learning opportunity of the day, that best learning opportunity, those kinds of things. And I think that when you can talk about those strategies, that then can let someone think, okay, I could get a different outcome because a different thing is happening. But understanding that that fear is not unreasonable, it's just that we have to support, in a way, that gives some confidence. Okay, well, those were really wonderful questions and I appreciate people being so engaged and offering those. I think that's all for today, but we'll be back again. Shelley, do you happen to have the date of our next event? - I do, and I want to thank you so much for the information you've shared today, for getting us rolling and I think folks who've registered today did probably notice on the website that this is webinar one in a series of three for now, which take us up to the end of March and then we'll be looking toward the spring, as well. So the next one will be on January the 28th and the focus of that one is on effective meetings. And then the last one in this series of three is on March 31st on structured problem solving. So we absolutely look forward to having Dr. LeBlanc back with us. I loved the comment you made about educate a little bit and then collaborate a lot for the purpose of doing the most possible good for each of the individuals with whom we're working and for their families and so on. So, thank you for that. I've written that down. I've captured it. I'm putting it on my list of quotes. - You can all get a mug. - There you go. - Educate a little bit, collaborate a lot. - Yes, and thank you so much. And we will definitely look forward to seeing you back in January. - See you in the new year, everyone. Bye bye. - Take care.
Text Transcript: The Role of Perspective Taking in Leadership
Serving Children & Youth Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing/Blind or Visually Impaired