I recently returned from Savannah, Georgia, where I joined more than 500 child behaviorists and developmentalists to discuss the challenges and exciting possibilities for our interdisciplinary specialty. I always return from these meetings eager to implement what I have learned, and with even greater compassion for families that struggle.
The major lesson I took away from this conference is that we must teach people to use their common sense. There are so many things in life that we know to be good for us, but we don't do them. Like eating healthy and appropriate portions of food; you know it's important, but do you do it? At the conference, the presentations about autism emphasized things that most parents already know, like the importance of teaching your child how to learn by being response, attentive, and playful. We believe that 80-90% of children with autism can be spared of intellectual disability by appropriately playing and interacting with them as babies and toddlers. Yet, for a variety of reasons this does not always happen.
We also talked about mindfulness. The core premise of mindfulness is to be present in the moment. Studies demonstrate that practicing mindfulness can make positive structural changes to the brain. But, very few of us slow down enough to respond appropriately to our family and colleagues, think about what we are eating, or enjoy the moment. Being mindful is even more important for the person with ADHD, because he or she has a natural tendency to jump from one thought to the next. Learning to be mindful is a critical treatment for the child with ADHD, and it is also valuable for the rest of us. Our clinic will feature fall retreats and a chat next week about mindfulness -- please be sure to check out the details below.
Fortunately, most of us use common sense and try to be aware of our current situation much of the time, but there is no reason that with practice we can't do it more of the time. The theme for this note is to slow down, listen to your instincts, and be present. If you need it, we have a team of experts at the Center for Developing Minds who are ready to help.