10 Second Kids in a 1 Second World

Have you heard the saying that kids with FASD are 10 second kids living in a 1 second world?

It is a great way to illustrate the difference in response between our kids and others without a developmental disability. It is difficult for so many to understand as many of our children look “typical” so the world expects “typical.” We haven’t reached a level of understanding and acceptance of brain differences yet, so these catchy phrases give us ways to explain our kids to others in simple ways that they can understand.

Being on a few caregiver groups, I see those who are still struggling expecting immediate or very fast compliance. Our world moves at such a fast pace. I understand the 10x difference in the original saying, but it gives the impression our kids can respond in 10 seconds … and for many that is not the case.

It took me so long to understand this. I was brought up in a family that expected immediate compliance and response. I do not have a developmental disability, but I am not a person that does well with quick thinking or responding. But I can verbalize that. Many of our kids can’t. Yet.

There was a discussion today in a group I am in and a caregiver mentioned processing speed and response time. She didn’t use the 10 second kid in a 1 second world phrase, but it got me thinking that really many of our kids (teens or adults) are more like 5 minute kids (teens or adults) living in a 5 second world.

The Crone still expects the maiden to move at the speed of light. She asks her to do this, do that, come here, bring this, let’s go, etc. as soon as she is ready or wanting or needing something. And gets impatient when the maiden doesn’t respond immediately. And gets angry when she has to repeat herself or wait. And then sometimes the maiden refuses because she is escalating because she can’t process or transition as fast as her grandmother wants … and it either ends in anger or refusal. The Crone views it as disobedience. I view it as unrealistic expectations.

It did take me a long time to understand this concept and to wait. Because I grew up with the expectation of immediate compliance. So once I learned about it, I started giving time. And I realized that while it isn’t always five minutes, it does average 5 minutes.

At first it was excruciating for me to wait that long. But once I decided to time it out, I saw that if I stayed quiet after I asked or reminded, usually within that five minutes, the maiden was able to process what I said and transition to the task.

So next time you ask your child to do something, instead of expecting compliance on your terms, and getting upset when it doesn’t happen, try to give them the space and time they need to respond. They may not have heard or they may only have heard a few words. They may need time to process what you said. They may need time to shift focus and transition. By pausing you may just discover a pattern and timeframe that they operate in. You can then adjust your expectations to meet their abilities and you will both be better off for it.

I did write a similar post about this if you’d like to check it out: FASD: Lessons in Processing Speed from the Turtle, Sloth and Snail

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