Around one in 100 adults are classified as autistics and although no formal figures are kept, it is estimated that the ratio is the same in children.
Approximately 1% of all school children are recorded as having some kind of autistic spectrum disorder (including Asperger) which equates to roughly 61,570 children. This number has risen by 56% in the last 5 years, though it is believed that whilst testing has become more common (which may account for the rise). Not all cases are as severe and in some cases misdiagnosis may play a part, due to parents seeking additional help and resources for challenging children.
Autism is considered to be a life long condition, yet there are breakthroughs happening all the time with autistic children and techniques to help them engage better. Since autism can affect children in a variety of different ways and in varying severity, there is no “one size fits all” type of treatment. This is why NLP4Kids believe it is so important to take into consideration each individuals’ challenges as well as their strengths and capabilities.
One of the more common traits of autism is the child’s difficulty in forming relationships and social skills. NLP4Kids practitioners have had a great deal of experience in generating and building rapport, they undergo training in this area to develop strategies to cope with even the most difficult scenarios. A very simple but effective way of beginning to create connections is utilising a technique called matching and mirroring.
The basis of matching and mirroring is that you begin with where the child is at in their current ability to communicate. So rather than insisting upon eye contact, if the child is looking at the floor, you would begin by looking at the floor as they are. If they are fidgeting, the practitioner would fidget somewhat too. This helps give unconscious signals that both child and practitioner are on the same wavelength. This creates a more relaxed atmosphere and enables the practitioner to then move onto the next valuable process of pacing and leading.
Many people forget about the importance of gaining rapport, and using matching and mirroring to achieve it. Fewer still forget to then move the client to a more resourceful place once the rapport has been achieved.
In NLP we have a saying: “Pace, pace, pace, lead.” This means that NLP4Kids practitioners will spend a considerable amount of time matching and mirroring a child, until we are certain that we have the connection we require to be able to then shift them to a more resourceful state.
Often parents feel a great deal of pressure to make sure that their child comes away from a session with a practitioner with some very concrete techniques. However we cannot underestimate the importance of gaining a solid trustworthy connection between a child and their practitioner in any instance.
With autistic children, this connection process can take longer. It’s imperative that the child and practitioner utilise this time to build a bond without anxiety, only resolving emotional challenges until the connection between them is established. Failure to spend adequate time in this area could result in the change techniques working ineffectively in the future.
By Gemma Bailey www.NLP4Kids.org/gemma-bailey