Full PreFrontal

Ep. 130: Elizabeth Sautter MA, CCC-SLP - Make Social-Emotional Learning Stick

November 10, 2020 Sucheta Kamath Season 1 Episode 130
Full PreFrontal
Ep. 130: Elizabeth Sautter MA, CCC-SLP - Make Social-Emotional Learning Stick
Show Notes Transcript

The most vital skills of making and keeping friends, figuring out COVID-19 social etiquette, and navigating the social world with adaptive flexibility is far from being innate or natural. While we have barricaded ourselves in our homes and in spite of 24/7 access to the internet that gives us the illusion of hyper-connectivity, many are struggling to artfully connect with others and find meaning in isolation. Figuring out ways to fine-tune our social-emotional acumen by managing our emotions skillfully and navigating social situations willfully seems to be the key.

On this episode, award-winning author, blogger and Speech Language Pathologist, Elizabeth Sautter, M.A., CCC, discusses how listening, communication, and relationship skills build better friendships. She emphasizes that social-emotional skills can and do improve and grow with special attention to the underlying skills building process. 

About Elizabeth Sautter MA, CCC-SLP
Elizabeth Sautter, M.A., CCC, is a Speech and Language Pathologist, award-winning author, blogger, and highly sought after speaker specializing in social and emotional learning since 1996. Elizabeth’s interest in social learning began early in life growing up with a sister who has developmental challenges. She is also a mom of two teens with complex social, emotional, and academic needs. These personal experiences have fueled a passion in Elizabeth to serve individuals and their families who are struggling with everyday challenges.
Elizabeth is the creator of Make Social Learning Stick, which provides consultation, training (including the Make it Stick online parenting course), and resources to assist children, teens, and their families in building skills and practical strategies to manage emotions, navigate social situations, and achieve their goals. She is the co-author of the popular children’s book series, Whole Body Listening Larry. She is a collaborative trainer for the Zones of Regulation, and co-author of the accompanying storybooks, card decks, and games.
Elizabeth is the co-founder of Communication Works, a speech therapy practice providing services to schools, individuals, and their families. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two teenage sons, a cat, and a dog, and firmly believes that social-emotional learning has changed her life and wants to do the same for others.


About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

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Sucheta Kamath: Welcome to another episode of Full PreFrontal. My mission is to help people understand that their brain's prefrontal cortex at its best, acts as an orchestra conductor, directing actions, guiding emotions, tweaking responses, and calibrating decision making in order to create beautiful, harmonious symphony of a well lived life. And I bring you the guest who contributes to this process of uncovering the key components that drive and propel this new cortex into self regulation. Each guest brings their unique perspective and their expertise to help promote the growth and development of this unique cerebral system that is designed to collaborate, communicate and connect. And today, I have a fabulous guest. And I am so thrilled that I get to celebrate her accomplishments with you, because today is a very special day of her launch of her second edition of the book she has written. So let me introduce you to a dear friend and a colleague, a fellow SLP. Oops, Elizabeth solder. She is a speech language pathologist and award winning author, blogger highly sought after speaker, she specializes in social emotional learning. And she has been around in the field of inspiring all of us since 1996. She has special interest in this topic, because she brings her personal story, I'm sure she'll share that with us. But she created a make social learning stick a while ago, and I'm so glad she has taken the time to kind of revisit that and and make it even maybe 2020 ready or maybe beyond 2020. And probably I'm sure she has a lot a lot to offer in terms of COVID context. And finally, she's also co author of a popular children's book series, my favorite called whole body listening, Larry. So welcome, Elizabeth to the podcast. How are you?

Elizabeth Sautter: Oh, it's so great to be here, Sucheta, I'm great. I'm really excited today. And that introduction was just like music to my ears in so many ways. I can't even tell you. But we talk all about helping others communicate and connect. And I love the orchestra. And yeah, let's let's play this. play this music.

Sucheta Kamath: Yes. Well, I'm so glad we play similar in the same band. So I'm so happy. Alright, so I asked this question of all my guests. Since we talk about self regulation, executive function communication. Do you mind telling us a little bit about your own abilities and skill set? And when did you become self aware that you have these gifts? Or you have these challenges?

Elizabeth Sautter: Wow, interesting. Okay, so me personally? Okay. Wow, that's a big question. Okay. So I grew up in Oakland, Oakland, in California, and my sister is actually developmently delayed. So she's two years older than I am. And my parents actually weren't clear about what are her challenges until I started developing faster than her. And so that's when she, you know, got testing and whatnot. And she was actually in the portables, you know, when it wasn't mainstreamed, or anything back then, with an eyepatch and all these great things, right. So there was a lot of challenges going on. And it was really interesting for me growing up with OT equipment in my basement, which was actually a lot of fun. And then, you know, sitting in a lot of waiting rooms and whatnot. But along the way, this is actually something I don't talk about very often, you know, some of my needs in terms of learning were not discovered. And so I was always kind of in this lower reading group and struggled a little bit, but then I was gifted when I went to middle school, you know, tested for the gifted classroom. So it was really confusing for me. So, in general, I think that like, you know, my brain on the spectrum is, you know, one of those resilient, really driven, but struggles with some of the details and some of the I think I mean, basically as a speech language pathologist, I have diagnosed myself it's never been diagnosed on paper as having dyslexia. And now I'm learning a lot about this more. For my own children who I have two boys and my older struggled quite a bit with executive functioning. He was diagnosed in fourth grade with ADHD, learning disabilities and anxiety, and I saw some of the same things that I recognized in myself as a child in him, not so much the behavioral things. But you know, he was the one child that got his name on the board and benched for recess. I mean, come on really benching kids for recess. So they all they all heard it from me, there was a great article that I have on my Pinterest page about that exact thing about keeping kids away from recess who need to get their energy out. So anyway, that's also been part of my journey is myself and how my brain works and learning about that. And I have editors for everything. But if you catch anything, you tell me because I will never be offended, because it's not my how my brain works. But, and but my son as well, who has ADHD, learning disabilities and anxiety and just trying to get him the services that he needs. Because he also was super bright, is super bright. And everybody's Oh, he's fine. He just needs to be more motivated. Yeah, yeah, you know, the story. And you can read about my journey. I've written a blog on that as well over on my website. But, you know, that's been, you know, a lot of advocating and ups and downs, and we call it actually delete, and I just did a podcast, actually a summit together for ADHD. And it was all about riding the waves, it takes ripples to make waves and we talked all about riding the wave. So a lot of personal grief.

Sucheta Kamath: I think it's so interesting. So I've been talking to experts all around the world. And this insight, personal insight when you come to you much later once you're a little bit older and mature and have that capacity to look back. And and I've always found that the clinicians that are on my podcast have so much more deeper insight, and I know no offense to anybody else, but they are much more attuned, which is probably gets them help ready. So they are they're a lot more helpful, because they have kind of had a lot more introspection. I don't think I have any learning disability when I was growing up, but I do think however, so I speak five languages and right, three, and I think my education suddenly I went through a mega transformation where I was learning all subjects in Marathi, my mother tongue until 10th grade, and 11th grade, everything shifted to English, which is science and math. So I'm doing math in my head in my mother tongue. And then you have to write this formula. And you know, theorems, don't know the language don't know the words, I kind of got really screwed up. I think in terms of I am slower. I, I'm not I was not very confident if I'm writing proficiently, but I was a great writer. I was, I could have been a like literature major when in my mother tongue. So I do understand the experiences because of having this little "whoa" like I don't know what to make of it kind of experience.

Elizabeth Sautter: Oh, yeah. As your brain is like over language processing over executive functioning with all the different, you know, like signals going which way where do they fire? I have a question for you, though. Yeah. What, what language do you dream in?

Sucheta Kamath: So it's so funny, I think it's, it's now I am a proficient English speaker for. So if you take a trajectory of 40 years, I would say last 20 years, it's been in English, okay. And I don't dream as vividly. So that's another problem, right? But okay, coming back. So I wanted to kind of set the stage for this, the new edition of your book, which is such a meaningful and important idea that you have put forward for everybody to benefit from is more not just make social learning stick, but make social emotional learning. So I wanted to kind of start off by the some foundational skills that you and I in the field of speech language pathology, talk about pragmatics, this ability to apply knowledge of language in a social context, and recognize that language is only effective or ineffective, it is contextually inappropriate. So you may be using switch from formal to informal language, you know, code switching, or speaking with your peers versus your parents, talking with your teachers versus talking to somebody on the street. So talk to us begin begin with communication, what does communication mean to you? And why is communication so important? And this may sound very obvious to people, but I think we have a specific specific lens that we can really organize our thoughts about it. So what are your thoughts about that?

Elizabeth Sautter: Yeah, I mean, I have so many thoughts. And you said so much there. And, you know, behavior is communication. We say that quite often. And I've worked over the years with many behavior consultants that a lot right out of grad school I worked at as school for severely impaired children with autism and behaviors. And we worked alongside behavior consultants so closely and it was such a great synergy of our expertise in looking at behavior. As communication because and you know behaviors, communication can be positive it Where is your, you know, using verbal language and smiling and using your hand gestures and hugging all the different wonderful things. And it can also be challenging. So if a child doesn't have or a person doesn't have the words, the language, whatever it might be, then what happens is, is we have maladaptive behavior. And that could look like, you know, swearing, it could look like, it could look like punching, it could look like, you know, tantrum on the floor, whatever it might be. And we see this quite often with toddlers, because they don't have the language to express themselves yet. And amongst other things that they're managing with emotional regulation. So the thought is then to increase communication to decrease maladaptive behavior, because if these children that actually they weren't only children, they were, you know, ages five through 22, at the school, and these were the children who actually used to be institutionalized. And now they have wonderful schools that can support them with these behavioral challenges. But we will do all kinds of things from increasing verbal and expressive language, receptive language, receptive, meaning understanding, expressive, obviously is, you know, using signs, gestures, picture communications, or verbal language to get their needs and wants met, to increase their communication so that they would then decrease these maladaptive behaviors. And then the goal was to get them, you know, back into the public school system, when they were able to increase their communication and have their behavior be somewhat manageable for a public school setting. So that I mean, that right, there is the extreme of it. But you know, I mean, in this day and age, I think communication is everything, and what you said into about connection and collaboration, it's just like, you have to have the skills to communicate, to have the ability to interact with other people, and in an effective way, and collaborate and connect, and such a big part of communication is social. And that's what you mentioned, too, is understanding, you know, the thoughts of others. That's the perspective taking really being able to step in somebody's shoes and realize they have different experiences and beliefs, and whatever, then you the pragmatic language that you mentioned, in terms of a context, actually, in my book is all context based. And for that very reason, because parents and you know, we're in these situations with our kids, how do you teach in these natural situations, and all the situations are teachable. You know, we have a receptive and expressive language that's understanding and then being able to express and then the joint attention to which is being able to have shared focus on an object or a situation, which is huge, especially those with autism, but executive function challenges too, because your attention is diverted all over the place, in milliseconds. And so you know, you could miss that nonverbal expression on somebody's face, or you could miss the nuance of an actual situation or, or some shared imagination and play with little kids. So there's a lot to unpack when it comes to communication. And it's a lot more vast and complex. And people really realize,

Sucheta Kamath: I love that I think the you have such deep understanding of the topic, and that the nuances, the crevices of interpersonal relationship, that hinges on these tiny, tiny, like milestones of behaviors. And I really like the way you said that behavior is communication. And I'll add to it, which is lack of, is also communication. So if somebody doesn't say something that's also communication, silence is communication. And I think that kind of the burden, and when I work with people, I always say, it's when we collaborate, it has to be 50-50 lifting of the burden. So if other person has to do more work, of figuring out what you're trying to say what you're trying to be, then you're not doing, you know, your job, which is kind of share who you are, what you mean, what you want to accomplish. So talk a little bit about this social skills, which you alluded to this, so that the social communication, which is understanding people and understanding minds of others, which then feeds into being able to make friends, keep friends follow the etiquette or protocol of given circumstances. And most importantly, where executive function meets here is how to adapt. If you don't know something and always tell people, you know, this experiment that has turned out to be a really good experiment, experiment. For me, coming from another country, to another country is a great way to kind of put your own understanding of the culture and etiquette and rules and regulations, and implicit to test. I'll give you a quick example. When I was in grad school, I came here first In India, this is kind of probably I shouldn't even give example on the air. But, you know, a kind of plucking kids cheeks when you meet them as a form of greeting was very, very socially acceptable. And so in my clinic, I walk in with a fellow clinician as a grad school. And my professor had offered us generously his two year old to do language sample with and so we got into this booth, and we were being video recorded. Two of us, the other fellow clinician was American. And here I am FOB, Fresh Off the Boat from India, go straight for this girl's cheeks, and like Hi, and oh my god. So this, she just kind of started screaming so loudly and did not want to be ever having anything to do with me. So I was kind of taken out of that situation. I didn't understand what I did wrong. I was so embarrassed as well as I was petrified to deal with kids from that then on but so, so tell us a little bit about so I obviously lost this little translation that don't touch children. Yes. Or don't don't greet them establish a rapport in a different way. Right. So So tell us a little bit about what your understanding of this process is.

Elizabeth Sautter: It's so fascinating, and it's so nuanced. And, and, and kind of like, you know, a little bit dangerous, you know, like, I mean, so there's so much I could say, Here, let me just start from the fact that, so in my book, as I mentioned, it is there's con, it's context based. So it's divided into four sections, I added a new section for the second book, it's home community holidays, special events. And then now I added bridging home and school, because I've done so much of that now, with my son with his own IEP. And it's just so important, right? Everybody said, You said

Sucheta Kamath: So these are 4 contexts. So can you walk us through on the 4 contexts?

Elizabeth Sautter: Yes. So basically, so in so in the book, it's there's an introduction, and there's a huge grid on you know, that where your child might be struggling in different areas, including executive function, and all the things with social communication and emotional regulation. So you can find out, you know, if you're looking to focus on executive functioning, then you would go to that column, and you would find all the activities in the book that that support with executive function skills, but the rest of the book is over 200 activities. And it's divided into home community holidays, special events, and bridging home and school. And so like in the home section, the first page is our start the day and then it goes into rules for having fun and encouraging play with siblings and pretend play anti boredom, chores, you know, media, phone, pets, all the different things that you would do at home with your child. And then in the community, it's in the car, at the mall, at the movies, at the doctor's office, you know, eating out all these different things. And then, you know, in can be holidays and special events, Mother's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, all of that. And then the school pieces, like the things that parents would need to focus on in terms of home and school and transitioning their child for success and partnering with the school staff at the bottom of every single one of these pages. Like since I met the scourging home in school one right now the bottom of the hidden rules. And it says each school teacher assigns homework in different ways. So these are just, you know, going over the things that you would need to maybe go over in terms of the hidden rules, what's expected, what are the social expectation, we call them social rules as well for each context. And there's about three, or four for each one. So another one would be at home. This is one for TV time and show time. So watching TV with other people, you won't always get to watch your favorite show. This is time for being together and using your flexible thinking. So just every now and then there's a whole bunch more that I could talk about. But so basically, I've given examples of things that parents can prime will recall in the field priming your child for success in helping them to know what's expected and what those hidden social rules are those pragmatic language we talked about that code switching for each of these contests. And you know, of course, in different cultures, it's different and every household is different, really, like some people take off their shoes when you walk into their house, right? Some people pray before they eat their meals, some people you know, it's fine to eat in front of the TV like it's just different in every household and it's not meant to be hard and set rules. It's just to have parents realize that they need to be going over these things with their children to set them up for success. And I have so many stories that are similar to yours in terms of the the squeezing the cheeks, there's a with my clients. I have one client actually that he is a he's an adult he has a job and he's been trying to connect with his co workers. And he, we've been, he doesn't like to go out with them after work. But I've told him that that's how he can show that he really wants to, you know, get to know them and like, put more in there person file his person file about them to get them to talk, you know, outside of work. And so each month he goes one time. And so we always go over it beforehand and talk about you know, where you're going to go to Olive Garden, this place that place and we research all the different hidden rules of that place. And like what it would be like, well, one time he decided to go without reviewing it with me. So we went to this like dive bar, and then we're going to play pool. And, and I said, Okay, how'd it go. And he's like, I could only stay for five minutes, I was so overwhelmed, because he went in there. And I usually have my presentations, I show the picture, because I googled it with him afterwards. And it was this total dive bar that had bras hanging from the ceiling, and underwear and lingerie and all of these like, I don't know what unexpected, unexpected, like how could I you know, and so he didn't get to go over the hidden rules of this particular dive bar. And he was so overwhelmed. He's just like, get me out there. So there's just so many nuances, even when you do go over them. But it's really can it can be helpful to review them ahead of time for sure. And afterwards to go over what we do an autopsy right?

Sucheta Kamath: So what you're saying is really kind of we have we have to incorporate in our work is this value of context, because context determines the relationship between the participants and what's allowable and what's not allowable. And those related rules, or those protocols are invisible to somebody who struggles with social understanding. Correct?

Elizabeth Sautter: Yes, absolutely. And actually, Peter Vermeulen talks about it being context blindness. So there can be people who have a hard time reading facial expressions, there can be people who have a hard time taking perspective, and understanding the thoughts of others theory of mind. And then there's people that really struggle to figure out situational awareness, and what is going on in actual situations, and that where those are the lagging skills that need to be worked on. Michelle Garcia-Winner calls it when we talk about the hidden social rules is like having people understand what's expected and what's unexpected. And so, you know, we try to have, you know, be you know, accepting and not judgmental, with, you know, appropriate and inappropriate or, you know, etiquette and manners and those kind of things. But there are certain things, you know, like, zipping up your pants, before you walk out of the bathroom, or certain things you say, and don't say, or taking off your shoes or not, or pinching people's cheeks center, you make people feel comfortable or uncomfortable, right.

Sucheta Kamath: And, you know, the reverse is also very interesting. So, and I, when I present, I talk to people all the time that when I came to this country, I felt like an alien, or I felt almost like I have acquired autism, you know, not developmental autism, but, but kind of not really knowing the rules or the things. And it's so interesting that most of the burden falls on somebody, somebody who's coming from a minority or who's in the larger context. So, I have to adapt to the larger context. So if you came to India, then you will be adapting to larger context of India. And, and so people not knowing is something I also have to accommodate for, and me not knowing is also something I have to accommodate for.

Elizabeth Sautter: It's so much it's so complex, so complicated, right? And we, you know, I think that we could do it all a better job at you know, understanding different cultures and biases. I mean, this is a whole nother topic.

Sucheta Kamath: Right. But yes, I'll tell you a quick I agree. A quick story about my son so in my house, we don't wear footwear in the house. Even when we have workers or people come we have booties now we we bought a whole pack, so we give them if they're not used to it, and, and when my son was in kindergarten, so he my grant, my my in laws, and my parents kind of were always at home. And he grew up eating with his fingers. So when he entered pre K, not even kindergarten, he was eating his snacks and his meal with his fingers. And somebody very precocious child called him is Savage. Of course, I loved his vocabulary, but it was kind of said, Well, he doesn't know your culture, your contract. So what I did is I called the principal or the head of the school and I said I'm going to bring snacks and I brought two snacks one was solid and one was liquid. And so you couldn't eat like imagine having a like a, you know, liquid is like not so liquid, but like a soup that you couldn't eat with your fingers. So I served both these items on a plate. And my son was extremely proficient in eating both without ever, like spilling or touching anything. And then I kind of walk the entire little little Munchkins, through the rules of eating. So in our culture, you don't use your left hand, you always eat with your right hand, you do not let food, you either use these three fingers, you know your thumb and first two fingers, you do not let any food touch the palm. Now, if you follow these rules, now it becomes an executive process, right? So eating, if you're not used to eating, you're like slobbering, it's like trickling down your elbows. And once I open these little kids minds about another way of eating, they never, of course called him any names. But also he was so proud of himself of being very proficient in a his ability to do a particular way that nobody else knew.

Elizabeth Sautter: Oh, my gosh, I'm just like picturing this, like, even in my household, and my son, my younger son, he has dysgraphia which is, you know, handwriting challenges for those who heard that term. But yes, it's just, you know, that would be really sloppy.

Sucheta Kamath: Exactly. But I just think that you're right, I think this kind of awareness that some people don't have the context, hands there under behave under functioning is such an important way of developing compassion and patience for it. So tell us a little bit about this idea of another little important component that you're talking about in your book? Is that a listening skills? What in what ways people lose their audience? Or do not pay attention? And and what are some of the strong powerful, meaningful listening skills that I think have incredible meaningful application to even adults with or without any challenges? And not just kids?

Elizabeth Sautter: Yeah. So this has become, you know, huge in our culture of the United States. I think that we're all just overstimulated with technology and media. And you know, we're getting information so fast. And it's coming at us from all different directions. And we talked about being mindful, like having everything in your mind is coming fast, as fast as fast versus being mindful. And which Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about mindfulness as paying attention, on purpose, without judgment. And so that's one of the new additions that I've put into the book because I've been trained, as with mindfulness through mindful schools, which is the organization in Oakland, and, and it's just changed my life. And it really has a lot of benefits for those with executive function challenges and ADHD, and just people in general. And so it's something that I practice on a daily basis is just focusing on my breath, and getting grounded and having intention. And also just noticing, when I'm not in a mindful state, and when I might be feeling a little worried or anxious or overwhelmed, and just working on getting myself grounded again. So these are things that I've taught my boys, and what I teach all of my clients as well, including the parents, to model this skill and strategy, and then to also teach it to their children. And so this is something I've infused in the book as well. And mindfulness doesn't have to be, you know, sitting in silence, or a lotus position for 20 minutes, it can be, you know, going for a mindful walk, and just focusing on one step at a time and, or listening to music and one sound or, you know, mindful eating, it could be all of that, but it definitely pertains to listening. So this is where we can put our phones down, and we can, you know, look people, you know, in the face or the eyes, if you're comfortable with that, and it's part of your culture. If not, there's other ways to tell people that you are listening and you know, those who have to move around or whatever it might be some kind of to be helpful for them to listen better when they're moving around. And that's just all self exploration to know what works best for you. But I honestly is, practicing mindfulness can be a really great way to learn how to pause and be in the moment.

Sucheta Kamath: You know, what I love about your approach and what you're discussing here is that awareness that first you're not doing it, so somewhere you have to lean into accepting that you are part of this 21st century culture with information is coming at us as like a fart, fast train. Second is we are hyper exposed to gadgets. That bring information unsolicited information. And third, we are dealing with people who are also exposed to the same information that we are victims of. So we can really accuse other people of not paying attention, put your phone down when you have your phone in your hand. And the I love that. So many of our fields are now incorporating mindfulness in the works, I think you and I talked about this before, I myself, have had a practice of 10 to 12 years of mindfulness meditation. But I'm also going through formal training of mindfulness meditation, teacher training. And I'm doing that so that I can work with a homeless population that I've been teaching for last two and a half years. So these practices so that they can have some another tool in their tool belt, to for self empowerment. Tell me this idea that you also talked about is another huge value added, through your approach, is this navigating transitions. So talk about what do transitions mean to children? And in what places and spaces do transitions show up? And why transitions are so hard for children, as well as adults, but we don't admit it.

Elizabeth Sautter: Right? Well, it's so there's transitions happening all throughout our day, every day. We think of the big ones, as you know, waking up in the morning, and being able to get yourself out of bed and fed and dressed and you know, focused on whatever you need to be focused on, which right now is, you know, my home, it's distance learning. And that in itself is just a dredge. It's just huge, right? And so and then, you know, from in distance learning, there's, I mean, you think about the minute things about it, like, so say you've gotten yourself out, I mean, just think about all the transitions we have throughout our day, it's really insane, right. And then, as in distance learning, you have, you know, working in a larger Zoom Room to maybe groups to then, you know, some of the kids are working outside of the Zoom classes on distance learning, we have synchronous learning, we have asynchronous learning, there's just so much to keep track of. And then, you know, there's transitions from the day to the evening to homework, to bed, to sports, to friends to dinner, to you know, the table, it's just constantly transitioning. And there's so much involved with that, not only with the brain in terms of the cognitive load of, you know, being able to have that this is all executive functioning, right? So it's basically the hindsight, you know, okay, what was that like that working memory? What's in my memory about what do I know I need to do every morning I get up that's pretty rote. Now, you don't maybe think about it as much. But okay, today is a different, like, an our distance learning we have that every two weeks, they change classes, and they have two weeks, two classes at a time. So okay, what classes do I have this Monday, and, or this Tuesday, to be getting ready for what books do I need? What materials do I want, that's all behind site that you're, you know, retrieving and you're working memory, to then also for thought to be, you know, showing up with my hair looking decent. And this is the teacher who would like you know, wants me to have my, my, my video on. And, oh, this is the class that I have that girl that I have a crush on. And so I better like, you know, have that cute shirt on or whatever. And so that's the forethought of your goals for that the outcome of having a positive experience to be able to figure out what to do right now in the moment. So that's the executive function piece in all these transitions, which we just think is like, Come on, get out of bed, what's the big deal, feed yourself and get on Zoom, come on, you know, the parents, it's like, it seems so easy, but there's so much going on. But then there's also the social regulation, sensory regulation and emotional regulation. So just thinking about, you know, your body as your, from state to state, you know, as, especially with my kids bodies, right now, with teenagers, their hormones are all over the place. And you know, their sleep patterns are so different. And the regulation piece of it is huge. And then if you have a child that has any kind of sensory overwhelm, that's another piece of transitions to, you know, from one situation to another, and you know, the temperature, the noises, the sounds. It's all just huge and it's just important for us to be aware of your child's own unique profile in where they might thrive. And those these are no big deals and where they might struggle and these are such like you said, invisible, nuanced space, like skills. So that's why we have to really look at the child as a whole and figure out where they do need support, and how we can scaffold and how we can help them with making these routines and activities more smooth for them.

Sucheta Kamath: I really think our listeners are going to be very surprised because I think to people transition is only task, we move from a task to another, but you're talking about emotional transition, bodily transitions and transitions of routine to non routine and back to a routine task. And I can imagine why in so many ways, this is hard for developing minds, primarily because it requires you to turn something on and turn something on, off. So the autopilot needs to be turned off, your intentionality needs to be turned on, or your you know, code switching. So you need to formality needs to be turned on in formality needs to be turned off. Yeah, so much responsibility to what filter you're using to look at information. So and so the last part of this discussion, I wanted to kind of talk about your wheelhouse, which is managing big feelings. So you're big on meltdowns, mood swings, sense of overwhelm, and you have some amazing techniques for that. So talk a little bit about what is the makeup of that? What goes into children having these big emotions, and how can we channel them?

Elizabeth Sautter: Yeah, so this actually can tie back almost everything that we've talked about today. And this is one of the reasons why I put the I added the word emotional learning into the book, because social emotional learning and as you know, executive functioning are all intertwined. If I could have executive functioning in the title, I would, it just would have been such a mouthful as it is already. And I actually have two card decks to one on emotional learning and one on social learning that are sort of everyday activities, not so much context based. But so the emotions are a huge piece of it. And the self regulation, as we mentioned before behavior is communication. And if you're having these challenging behaviors in these situations, it's really important for us to look underneath the water line, it's you know, that the we talk a lot in the field about it being a an iceberg, similar our kids are kind of similar to an iceberg model, where you it's you see the child, the behaviors at the tip of the tip of the iceberg, which is really only 10% of what's going on, you have to get curious and lean in and lower the waterline and go deeper to figure out what their lagging skills are. And if you have a child that is having meltdowns, or overwhelm, or anxiety or shut down, where's my turtle in our parenting course here, I'll grab him really quickly. Because this is the turtle that we have in our parenting course. And the cocreator of the parenting reports, Rebecca has the porcupine because oftentimes we can retreat into our shell. And when we're overwhelmed, and this is my younger son, my older son is more of his cohort is the porcupine where you like, you know, your quills come out? Yeah. And then we talk a lot about how the parents are the wise owl. Anyway. So you know, figuring out what's going on underneath the water line when a child is having those turtling moments or a porcupine or maybe they're having a combination of both, and helping them with what's going on. So we need to determine what those lagging skills are. Are they having trouble communicating with their words are understanding with their language? processing? Are they having trouble with transitions? Are they having trouble with task initiation? I want to reiterate what you were saying about task initiation too, because my son I mean, he is the one with ADHD. He struggled so much with non desire tasks and it looks so you know, oh, he that we can really focus a lot when he's doing video games and but then you ask him to you know, take out the garbage and you It's like he says it's feeling like it feels like it's stabbing him, you know, the undesired tasks and stuff. Anyway, so thinking about the emotional regulation is just figuring out what are the triggers? What are the lagging skills, you know, some of our children really have that sensory overwhelmed or underwhelmed. They might have trouble with interoception. That's how our one of the sensory processing senses is understanding how your body feels and your inner organs are telling your body how it's feeling. It's a domain of an occupational therapist, but I have a lot of clients that struggle with that. And when you struggle with that, then you can't necessarily identify how you're feeling internally and label your feelings and then do get a tool or figure out what to do with it. So a lot of it is just being aware and understanding your own emotions. And then you know, whether it's mindfulness practice, or whether you're doing other kinds of curriculum like, you know, Zones of Regulation, or Emotional ABCs to do hone in on this more, there's a lot of work that can be done. And then there's also the piece of understanding emotions and others, which is, you know, what we call emotional intelligence, and then building emotional literacy. There's so much that could be done here. But it's a huge part of social emotional learning and executive functioning, because you have to regulate in order to execute any tasks.

Sucheta Kamath: I think the the, the big picture with broad strokes we are painting here is, I think this internal empowerment that when we talk about executive function, and when we talk about self regulation, we want to discover the power within, to know that I can change my ways I can change my relationship to my world, I can build skills, so that I can become in charge of my destiny, or destination, or both. And and I think I really thank you for the work that you are doing you do, and the hope that you bring to our clients, their families, and I really hope you come back again, because there's so much discussion that we need to have about parenting. So I hope you'll consider and come back again, before I let you go, what are two of your favorite books, that you recommend everybody or that have influenced you, and have made a big impact on you?

Elizabeth Sautter: That's a hard question. And but a very good one. But I would say, you know, I've been extremely influenced by a lot of different experts in the field. And so it's really hard to narrow them down. And I actually have so many of them that have contributed to my book. So I will leave those ones aside, because you can go in my book, and you can see all the ones that I recommend there. But the one that really has changed a lot, especially with my own child is Ross Greene's. Yeah, his Collaborative and Proactive Solutions is that's his curriculum, but also Explosive Child and Treating the Explosive Child, but the one that really honed in for me was last at school, and I buy it for all of the teachers that my son is with every year. So I would say that, because it's really, it's just a game changer in terms of viewing, as we've talked about today, the behavior on the outside and thinking of kids doing well if they can, and really honing in on the lagging skills and where you can provide support. So I would say it's that.

Sucheta Kamath: He's gonna be on my podcast in a couple of months, I will sure be sure to mention that to him, he'll be so thrilled.

Elizabeth Sautter: Oh, yeah, I know, he knows how much I adore him. He and I've interviewed him too. He's amazing. So I would say, the, the Ross Greene, but I would also and this is, you know, this is more of a curriculum than a book, but it's really changed my life in so many ways, is the Zones of Regulation. And it's not just because I teach it and I practice it. And because I you know, I train on it. And I part of the the some of the work that Leah Kuypers is doing. But when I first met Leah, and when, you know, I wasn't as she did work at my center, and we were very close. But I it really changed the way that I view self regulation and in my own world, and how I was noticing that I was living in what she calls the yellow zone, or what we call the yellow zone, a lot of my life. And that's when I really got into mindfulness and realizing that I don't want to live in that state. I you know, and I need to find out what those triggers are. And the tools that I can use to get more into a calm state and, and live my life and more of a joyous fashion. And so I will say I will give her kudos for that, because it's been an amazing life pivoting experience for me.

Sucheta Kamath: Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth, you are a darling, your a doll. Thank you for your brilliant insights and and your time. That's all the time we have. It's been a great pleasure to have these conversations. Thank you for tuning in to this amazing discussion. Keep coming back. If you love what you're hearing, recommend this podcast to your friends, colleagues, your peers. And yes, please continue your journey into self discovery. There's only one path to betterment, which is self awareness and strategic thinking. So I thank you all for being here. And that's all the time we have today. So have a great day. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Sautter: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. I'm honored