Why “NO” doesn’t work with #FASD

c2063-img_2725Guest Blogger – Liz Kulp
FASD Survival Strategy Teacher,
Award winning author Best I Can Be, Living with Fetal Alcohol and Braided Cord Tough Times In and Out

Don’t use mostly, sometimes, maybe, perhaps—I won’t do that!”
This avoids giving me direction I can use. It keeps my brain on a fuzzy place like standing on a ball.”

  • I do yes and no
  • I do Tuesday at 3:00
  • I do give me ten minutes of quiet time
  • I do it will be finished at 5:00 pm
  • I do true and false.

Don’t tell me what I can’t do
This empties my mind and the connections in my brain struggle to discover replacement thoughts

  • Tell me what I can do.
  • Give me choices
  • Let me come up with choices before you tell me NO – “What else could we do?”

 No takes away my ability to think. It puts my mind into emptiness without opportunity.  Tell me what you need, want, desire and I will do my best to help.

Abstract thinking is like grabbing thoughts, ideas, and explanations, but when you look into your hands there’s nothing there.

You can’t have abstract ideas in your physical possession.

Concrete ideas you can see, touch, hold, show and prove!
“My green minivan has a flat tire” – shows a picture, can be touched and if you look at the tire you can prove it is flat. That is a concrete statement vs “The vehicle won’t go.”

For example:

Abstract Concrete
Justice Police Officer
Drove away in a car
Said or told
Bus, car, train, canoe
Girl who stole my purse
Tiger Woods
John’s idea
  • Be aware that persons with organic brain injury may have trouble filtering out distractions, fighting their impulses and make poor decisions sometimes by obeying “EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID!
  • Be aware of what you are saying – all the time.
  • Understand that if they are doing something that you have expressly told them not to – go back over your instruction and see if they have translated what you said literally.

When using sensory words – does the person understand the word you may use to describe it?

  1. Taste – bland, biting, bitter, brackish, briny, metallic, minty, nutty, peppery, salty, sour, spicy, sweet, tainted, yeasty – (if you use the word biting will it make sense?)
  2. Touch – cold, hot, warm, tickly, harsh, gritty, grainy, clammy, chilly, tingle, sting, smooth, rough, numb, knobby, harsh, sticky, slithering, jarring – (if you use the word jarring will the person understand?)
  3. Sound – hiss, whisper, whine, screech, snap, swish, splash, creak, crack, gurgle, murmur, hum, cry, giggle, chime, clatter, clink, crackle, buzz, blare, bellow (if you use the word bellow will it get confused with below?)
  4. Sight – flash, flicker, glare, glitter, muddy, spark, foggy, bright, cloudy, glow, shimmer, chalky, dappled, inky.

Idioms are abstract and you can get some wonderful or deadly surprises. An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally, like “bought the farm” has nothing to do with purchasing real estate, but refers to dying.

Abstract Idiom Actual Meaning Concrete Misunderstanding
A chip on your shoulder You think you know a lot What? There are no chips (potato) on my shoulder
You’re high as a kite You are drunk or on drugs or very very happy What? I am standing on the floor.
Out of the blue Something unexpected happened Huh?

Step safely on the stones of concrete language to allow the person to “gain the real meaning of what you are trying to communicate” and not get the wrong idea. 

When your brain works well in concrete language and struggles in abstraction, simple listening becomes overwhelming. Conversations become one-sided. Progress forward ceases. By keeping your conversations in concrete language you allows the person to remained engaged in your conversation.

Avoid the dangerous ground of abstract language with it’s grey areas of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Visit our website www.betterendings.org for more ideas.
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