Asperger Experts

Defense Mode

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Shutdown. Overwhelm. Anxiety. Defensiveness. It's the core of everything we teach, and understanding Defense Mode is essential to understanding life on the spectrum.

Case Study

I Didn't Even Realize How Deep Into Defense Mode We Were As A Family

I didn't even realize Defense Mode existed until I read an article on AE about it. That was about four or five years ago,when we were trying to help Harley's oldest daughter Sophie who, at the time, was 27.

Then, when Harley's son Avery came to live with us, I could see that he was very shut down. My personal experience with Defense Mode is that I didn't even realize I was in it. I think that's probably the case with a lot of people. It's not until you start learning about it and are able to even have a fair bit of self reflection that you realize you're in it, and then you need to work on it yourself.

To help myself get out of Defense Mode, I've been focusing on engaging in Somatic Therapy. I started with doing some work with Holly Bridges on my vagus nerve and that really helped. But Holly felt that probably my past trauma was so severe that I needed help from a somatic therapist.

So then I contacted Eva Angvert-Harren, and I've been working with Eva for about 12 months now. I think that's really changed my life and allowed me to, well, get rid of my PTSD, basically, which sounds an extreme thing to say. But that is what she's done.

Now that I know what it feels like to be out of Defnese Mode, It's fantastic. But it's also been interesting, because now I have to work out who I am again, which sounds a bit severe when I say it like that. Before, I was living with all these restrictions to make sure my life didn't spiral out of control. Now I can take the restrictions away, and my life's not spiraling out of control.

So I have to ask myself, "What do I do with all that extra emotion that I now have, and all that extra calm, and all the extra time, and all the extra energy?"

Because what you don't realize is, when you're in Defense Mode, it takes so much emotional and physical energy. When you're out of Defense Mode, you realize how much more emotional energy and normal energy you have to do other things.

So then you go, "Right, what am I going to do with my day now, because I have so much more time and energy?"

So that's been a really interesting journey to be on to work out, OK, so who am I now? And what do I want to do with my life?

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Dive into a greater understanding of life on the spectrum with these stories & explanation videos.

An Excerpt From Our Book

7 Easy Ways To Motivate Someone With Asperger's

"Have you ever wished you could just magically motivate your child? With a swish and flick of your Magic Wand of Parenting Awesomeness, you could instill in little Johnny or Susie the drive and heartfelt desire to get up and get stuff done -- more specifically, to get the stuff done you want and need them to do.

Yeah, don’t worry; I’ve had that fantasy too. You’re not alone.

Well, my friend, I’m afraid I’m fresh out of Magic Wands. However, what I do have in abundant supply are powerful motivation techniques grounded in psychology and personal experience that can help you streamline the process of helping Johnny or Susie get off the couch and engaged in something more productive.

Before we dive in, I want to clarify one thing up-front: This is a guide for how to motivate your child, not coerce or manipulate them. Trust me, there’s a difference. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, once said “When [they] perceive choice, [they] perceive motivation.”

In other words, your child cannot be truly motivated if you force them. So, when all’s said and done, no matter how many skills you have or how motivating you make something, your child may still decide not to do it. At that point, you either have to go back to the drawing board and try again or decide that’s just not a battle worth fighting.

When we’re talking about motivation we’re ultimately talking about influence, not control. If you’re not okay with that prospect, then I recommend you put down this book now and go have a snack or something. Actually, even if you’re going to keep reading, go have a snack anyway. Snacks are great.

Still here? Got your snack? Cool. Onward!

Please be aware this book is not meant to be read in one sitting and then set on a dusty shelf. Nor is it meant to be an overwhelming treatise outlining everything you’re not doing, but “should” be doing. Take some time with this book and treat it like a self-paced class, not a rote exercise. Read it, reread it, and then pick out one or two ideas you feel you can realistically work on. Then come back and implement one or two more. Make changes in your own time and within your current capacity. If there’s something in here that’s not applicable to your situation feel free to tweak it or throw it out entirely. While there are common threads that run through the tapestry of human experience, every individual situation is a little bit unique and yours is no exception. Use your best judgement.

The next thing you need to know, dear reader, is that all of these motivation techniques are equal-opportunity. This means that although I’m mostly going to be talking about parents and children with Asperger’s Syndrome (High-Functioning Autism), they can be just as easily applied to your own life, and in your interactions with your students, your friends, your coworkers/employees, your weird neighbor Bob, etc.

It’s also important to mention that motivation is a massive field of study, and it’s just not humanly possible to include everything there is to know about it in a single book. If such a book existed it would be so mind-bogglingly massive that no one would want to read it, so please keep in mind that this short guide is not designed to be comprehensive. You’re a busy parent (teacher, therapist, human, etc.) who probably doesn’t have time to read 5,000 pages. To spare you that trouble, I have cherry-picked some of my favorite and most effective motivational tools and condensed them into a form that, hopefully, will be quicker and easier to digest.

I really hope that you will give these tools a try. Maybe even a few tries. This book can only make a difference in your life if you use what it teaches, and you can only use these principles effectively if you have practiced them and know them so well that they readily come to you in the heat of the moment.

Featured Course

Freedom From Defense Mode

This course, designed for parents and caretakers of kids on the autistic spectrum, is your insider step-by-step guide to getting them out of Defense Mode.

In it, we'll explain exactly what goes on in our minds, and why we hide in our rooms. You'll learn how to finally break through to have meaningful conversations, rebuild your relationship, and finally get them motivated.

Understanding What Goes On In Their Mind

We'll show you exactly what goes on in the mind of someone in Defense Mode... because we've been there.

Rebuilding Your Relationship

Step-by-step guidance on how to rebuild trust and strengthen your relationship with someone in Defense Mode.

How To Motivate Them

The best techniques for motivating someone who is shut down (and the worst ones to avoid at all costs).

Getting Them Engaged In The World Again

How to co-create a plan to hold them accountable and get them engaged in the world... without walking on eggshells.

Ways To Relax

Easy, impactful ways to give your nervous system a break and help it get out of a constant mode of checking for threats. (This is called "Faulty Neuroception" in scientific language.)

When To Listen & When To Talk

Here's how to know when it is time to listen & let them talk, and when it is time to offer advice that will actually be heard (and not dismissed).

Is This Enabling?

How to know if what you are doing will help, or enable the same behaviors and issues.

Making A Motivation Plan That Works

Step-by-step instructions to co-creating a motivation & accountability plan they'll actually use and agree to.