Leaving London to move to Germany in the summer 2019 was a huge change. Reflecting back got me thinking: what ARE the ingredients of real change? I remember my initial feelings of apprehension and fear, whether it would all work out. Leaving one’s life as one knows it and taking the risk to start again triggers a whole rainbow of feelings from hope and anticipation to fear, insecurity and at times dread. The biggest challenge is probably that we cannot imagine it! We cannot imagine what it is going to be like, when it is something completely new. And as yet unknown. Our imagination consists of what we know, of our experiences and current situation. Venturing out of our comfort zone feels like going with empty hands or without provisions into the unknown. But only then can something new develop. The driving force of course is curiosity and real interest. If we find a behaviour, a situation, a feeling or a problem unbearable and want it to change, – then things can’t just carry on as they have been. Something will need to change, – anything. If we want to make a real change, we need to be willing to give up familiar ways and to make the effort to leave our comfort zone and to become active in actually addressing the problem and making a change in our environment, – taking the bull by the horns.

Among the main ingredients for making a lasting positive change in our life are patience, perseverance and trust. One needs confidence in relationships and in finding helpful people, and in the world as a potentially good place. I would never have imagined that I would encounter so many new people whom I have to thank for helping me settle so well into this new place here. It’s been an amazing experience. And a wonderful surprise. Of course there’ve also been challenges. There’ve been unpleasant people and challenges one needs to find a way to avoid or ignore or endure. You have no idea what a German tax return means! Sticking every single receipt onto a sheet of paper and numbering every one took more than 10 hours, and a liberal helping of patience,  perseverance and the willingness to make an effort, both physically and mental-emotionally. Like resisting the temptation to blame the system, or the taxman. Because blaming doesn’t actually help or get it done any quicker. Pushing ones sleeves up and getting down to work is the quicker way to get things done. Many of our children have difficulties with many of these elements, which in fact make out a great deal of what is often labelled as autistic or autistic-like behaviours or referred to as challenging behaviours. Being aware of the underlying elements for effecting real change can help us to identify the gaps in the child’s mental-emotional and relationship capacities (and our own!?). We can then think about ways to develop these and how to tolerate the rainbow of feelings that is part of being human.

This is never easy as it always requires an internal re-organisation and adaptation to a new, inner and outer, situation. It’s like moving house and moving one’s internal furniture around, disposing of some old and acquiring or creating new elements to furnish one’s inner world. My new FEDC-Card may provide some support and guidance on identifying the functional emotional developmental capacities and how they build on each other. Here’s a list of the 10 Key Ingredients for effecting Real Change:

  1. Hope
  2. Imagination
  3. Interest in something new
  4. Trust & Confidence in Relationships
  5. Patience
  6. Perseverance
  7. Determination
  8. Willingness to make a real effort
  9. Making changes in the environment
  10. Ability to tolerate the whole rainbow of feelings

16 Key Strategies for DIRFloortime Play

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