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Curious Incident - Episode #4 (Part #1) - Raising Emotionally Complex Children

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

You can listen to our discussion on your favorite podcast player or watch the video. Below is a summary of the podcast along with the entire podcast transcript.

The Curious Incident Podcast: Episode #4 (Part #1) - Raising Emotionally Complex Children

You can listen to the podcast here;

About this episode:

Jerry Pavlon-Blum, Director of External Affairs and Program Innovation at the Robert Louis Stevenson School, a school in New York City for emotionally complex students, joins Adam Dayan, NYC Special Education Attorney. This discussion ranges from talking about the complexity of mental health in school, how it fits into whole health, and what services could be offered to children and families by a school to meet the needs of emotionally complex children.

If you have questions that were not covered in the podcast or need guidance about how you should move forward, please contact the Law Office of Adam Dayan at 646-866-7157 to discuss your particular circumstances.

About the Law Offices of Adam Dayan

Adam Dayan Esq. is a New York special needs attorney. Established in 2009, the Law Offices of Adam Dayan has had the primary purpose of making sure children with special needs receive a quality education and long-term financial security.


Curious Incident Transcript - Episode #4 Raising Emotionally Complex Children

Speaker 1: This is Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families and your window into the world of special education. Parenting can be challenging and we want to make it easier by providing you with the resources you need to best help your child. Let's delve deep into the world of special education with your host, Adam Dayan.

Adam Dayan: [00:00:30] I am thrilled to present my next guest on this podcast.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Jerry's the director of external affairs and innovation at the Robert Lewis Stevenson School, which is a school in New York city for emotionally complex students. Jerry has studied at Columbia University's Teachers College, where he received a master's degree in curriculum and teaching and at Bank Street College of Education while pursuing a master's in [00:01:00] educational leadership. Throughout his career, Jerry has focused on the complexity of mental health in school, how it fits into whole health and what services could be offered to children and families by a school to meet the needs of emotionally complex children. Jerry, it's great to have you here today.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Thank you, Adam. I'm so happy to be here.

Adam Dayan: Wonderful to see you in person.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Thank you. The same.

Adam Dayan: So let's get started. What makes you an authority on the subject [00:01:30] of special education?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Well, you've just offered what is the formal answer and I would say my feet in the classroom over the last 25 years and what it has felt like to be in a mainstream environment and sometimes at schools that are advantaged in the private school system and come with a lot of assumptions and expectations of what children can [00:02:00] do, should be doing.

Adam Dayan: So, you've taught in both of these environments?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: I have. And as a classroom teacher, I always noticed where children were struggling and who was struggling. And in that environment early on, I made the mistakes that almost all of us make in the classroom in the mainstream, which is to go with assumptions and expectations. So, where are my authority? My passion for special [00:02:30] education and specialized schooling came out of the mainstream environment because I was in pain as a teacher, not really offering to students ways that they could approach learning differently. First, the culture and the expectations of teachers in those cultures didn't offer that to me in professional development. And so, fairly quickly there were assumptions that actually [00:03:00] pulled themselves towards the child instead of the environment, they pulled themselves towards the child instead of looking at an equality between the child and the environment. The teaching and the expectation, the pace, the workload in the mainstream environment when I was in a classroom as a teacher, those children who were struggling were actually the focus as if they were the struggle. I think this is a big deal.

Adam Dayan: [00:03:30] I want to unpack it a little bit. All right? You talked about the pain you felt as a teacher. I want to understand the pain a little bit more. What was painful? Why was it painful and how does the environment that you are in factor into that?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum:In the mainstream environment, especially in a privileged private school, the expectation is that there is a lot to learn and a lot to get to, and then a lot to get through. In other words, you don't have a lot of time. And you'll famously [00:04:00] hear that if you ask teachers across the board, what gets them the most frustrated? It's that there's... It feels as if there's never enough time to cover what you want to cover. And one of the most instructive moments in my career happened at one of those schools, when in a teacher meeting of the grade, one of my colleagues said, "Well, I don't know if they learned it, but I taught it." And I heard that and it resonated [00:04:30] with what I was doing in the classroom and I wasn't comfortable. And I thought, what's the value of, I taught it, that's what's important, not whether they learned it.

Adam Dayan: So the students who are struggling are viewed as an impediment because the teacher in the example you're giving is trying to get through a curriculum and the struggle of the students in the classroom is getting in the way of that somehow?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes, [00:05:00] because the curriculum is programmatic and it is part of a cycle that's part of a system and the system is timed. And so, there is a load of content that needs to be delivered and you have to move on. At a place like Robert Lewis Stevenson, we're focused on relationship building first and foremost, so that children feel available to themselves to learn. [00:05:30] And so, it doesn't really matter which grade we're talking about. I happen to be at a high school at the moment. I've been in specialized schools that are middle schools.

Adam Dayan: Let's focus on that for a minute. Right?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yeah.

Adam Dayan: And before we get into Stevenson, you've been at specialized middle schools. Talk a little bit about the classrooms that you've taught in.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So, the pleasure of one of the most important experiences I had, was to develop the center for educational enrichment. [00:06:00] It was a focus that was strongly built on developing interest and talent.

Adam Dayan: What does enrichment mean to you? Because I know that word is going to come up more during this discussion?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yeah. I think it can live right there in a very basic way in the development of someone's interest and in the development of someone's talent towards ultimately a feeling of passion, a feeling of love for something, skills that are [00:06:30] picked up along the way, not because you have to, and there's a test on it and you will either do well or not do well, but you are following your nose. You are curious, and you are after something to learn.

Adam Dayan: I'm just going to ask you as a very curious person myself, what is the role of curiosity and following your interests in education in general and in the education of kids [00:07:00] who have special needs?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: It's so important. It's deeply, profoundly important. It's exactly the kind of question I think we should all be asking ourselves weekly in schools all over the country. And certainly in New York city, where again, time, space, content is always pressured. So, in the pressure of an environment like a specialized school, [00:07:30] what we are doing is relieving some of that pressure you would typically find in the mainstream. There's a different kind of pressure. I was brought into a specialized school to found and to direct a center for enrichment. All I got to do was meet children and sense by listening to them, watching them play, watching them with me, babbling about [00:08:00] this and that, and to pick out where there are teachable things, who I know in the city, what this could connect to in terms of a career, not that we're teaching careerism, but we are teaching belonging in an environment.

Adam Dayan: Identifying their passions and helping them pursue them.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Identifying passions as they identify. Look, there are two ways in as a master teacher in this area, [00:08:30] one way in is for a child to come to me and say, "I'm a composer and I don't know what to do with that." The other way is that a child is free not to know it all. In fact, not even to know that there's any composition yet, but the child is in love with music and it's in the video game playing and it's in the radios in his ears. [00:09:00] And it's in the constant talk about platforms we all know very well that are musically based. In other words, that child may not be conscious yet about how that can be used and how it might in fact lead to the classroom, how that very nature in him, her, them, can in fact, if it's developed lead to an academic environment.

[00:09:30] Whether it's music or horses, or it doesn't matter, whatever the child's interest is. And look, where are we right now you and I Adam? We're on a podcast called Curious Incident. It's like in the name of what we're doing right now.

Adam Dayan: I had forgotten that for a second.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: I'm so glad to remind you. I mean, here we are in the embodiment that you've created-

Adam Dayan: And the curiosities in the name.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: In the world of being curious [00:10:00] and curious about an incident. That's all I ask of any child. I am sort of honed to listen with strong antenna to incidents and to mannerisms and to behavior and talk and listen for talent and interest.

Adam Dayan: That's amazing. It sounds like a wonderful job to have truly. [00:10:30] And before we shift the focus to Stevenson, is there anything else you want to share about your early experiences in classrooms that perhaps informed the work that you do at Stevenson?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes. I want to put a face on it. I want to tell you that there was an incident, a curious incident.

Adam Dayan: Perfect.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: It was in a private school. I was a classroom teacher, I was teaching writing workshop. I had been taught [00:11:00] earlier on for like, I don't know, almost two years by Lucy Caulkins at teachers college about writer's workshop and what it should be. Right? One of my students was so anxious. He broke his pencil and he became very upset and he dived underneath his desk crying. That's not a specialized [00:11:30] school. That's not a therapeutic environment in which he was. And I want you to know that in that area of space, when I was developing as an early teacher, my mistake was to answer it punitively. Right? I don't think I said, don't break pencils, but I was... I had my own personal reaction to breaking the pencil and to going under the desk.

And this is [00:12:00] a nine or 10 year old. It was fourth grade. That was a very important moment for me because I didn't know what to do to actually enter the environment he was in emotionally. I am curious about that incident all the time. It is etched into my mind as something that is a lesson for me and to take with me and answer as I continue to develop as a teacher.

Adam Dayan: What's the lesson?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: [00:12:30] Individualization. Time I wasn't given in the context of that environment, not systematically and not in the culture, the time to have to stop what I was doing, maybe to get down under the desk and sit with him and say, "Man, you seem clearly unhappy. I'm so sorry something didn't [00:13:00] work well at all for you. What could have gone differently? And I'm sorry if I didn't do it right." And I think that's where we start a conversation about true master teaching when we recognize that we don't really know the children we are with, because I have a personally developed belief system that we don't actually know who other people are. We just think we do, [00:13:30] and then we make lots of mistakes again, back to assumptions and expectations. And so, how could I have entered his world differently and given service? Some kind of educational, professional service that I knew in order to help him feel better.

Adam Dayan: And that's true anywhere, isn't it? And we're all guilty of this that we form these preconceived, no oceans about [00:14:00] people that are not based on fact, they're just based on assumptions and expectations that we may have. And you need to take the time to get to know the person, to understand who that person truly is. And especially the case with kids, especially the case with kids who are struggling, we can't assume, right? I think this is what you're saying, that we know what's going on in the mind or body of that child, that student, we have to get curious and figure it out.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes. And we need the [00:14:30] space and the dignity of our own intelligence to make these decisions. Because in larger systems of education, especially in public education, there are many, many rules to follow many and many times sequences. And then there is a lot of content that is given to you, which you must deliver. How do you then have the time to sit under the desk with your fourth grader and [00:15:00] ask someone else in the classroom, a student whose emotion regulation is pretty good to say, "Would you get a book and just read to the class for a second. I just want to be with a friend." Adam, what you say about how we don't really know who other people are and we make assumptions, has a next step in the classroom. And that next step is to understand that little children [00:15:30] through adolescence when they're not so little, are people, they're complex individuals.

And I don't think in the pressured environment of the mainstream expectations of teachers currently with the number of children, very typically in a classroom, especially in the public environment, but I would also say in many, many environments in the private schools [00:16:00] that we really have the time to develop relationships as a must. And to recognize that the way into that is to accept inconveniently, that we don't know them. And we're asking help from children to know them better as they get to know themselves.

Adam Dayan: Absolutely. And I think very relevant word there. Inconvenient. I'm going to circle back to that in a little while. I do want to shift the focus to [00:16:30] talk about Stevenson. I want to talk about your current role. And you are currently the director of external affairs and program innovation at Robert Lewis Stevenson. What does that title mean?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: It means two things. Actually it means three. It means two distinct things. My pleasure is to work externally from the school with colleagues locally and across the country who are kindred with our [00:17:00] school and not. So schools that are not actually rife with services for emotional complexity and don't have any idea how to start. I'm happy to meet them, and then I'm equally happy to meet and have lots of colleagues in the therapeutic environment for schools across the country. That's one part of my job. The other pleasure I have is making programs. So, which I've always done [00:17:30] even when I was in the classroom. Right? And so, I make program for all constituents at Robert Lewis Stevenson, I make programs for parents, I make programs for students, I make programs for individual students who have a particular passion for something and help them meet professionals in New York on a weekly basis for project creation, ultimately of the child.

So reversing [00:18:00] what we think of as teaching, where the teacher is actually following the child and what the child is interested in and what the child is reading and what the child wants to go see. And it's more that kind of walking beside students, listening keenly, to help them by opening pathways that are adult.

Adam Dayan: Was there a third area?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: The third area is the gorgeous symbiosis, right? And so, in making [00:18:30] programs for Stevenson, I also get to make programs outside of the school for other members of our community who may never enroll in Stevenson and invite them to come on our journey also of understanding how to support children who are emotionally complex and trying to figure out how to regulate themselves through a school day.

Adam Dayan: I'll definitely be asking you more about that later in our conversation. [00:19:00] First, tell me a little bit more about you. What makes your approach and outlook unique, given your particular background skills and experiences to the extent you haven't addressed that already?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: First, I'm a father and I'm a father of a pretty emotionally complex person. And my son has taught me a great deal and opened my eyes. I credit him for the extent to which I've become [00:19:30] professionalized, not only in my parenting, but also in my career.

Adam Dayan: Wow!

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So, kudos to him.

Adam Dayan: So, you have the experience and you also have that personal connection and motivation?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: I think the connection came in my parenting when I saw my son struggling with parts [00:20:00] of academia that were... I mean, it's even ridiculous to call it academia. Parts of early schooling that he... I would say he wasn't kidding around. He wasn't resistant for the resistance sake, he wasn't just not wanting to do the work. I think one of the other painful parts of being in mainstream was to hear over and over. And I said it myself, he's so smart. If [00:20:30] you would just sit still and focus, I just think he needs to focus more.

Adam Dayan: Has to do with that question of volition, right? Is this something that the person that the child can control or not?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: You're right on the pulse when you say volition. And very much so, because volition is often invisible, it's an assumption. And we've been discussing that here and there today, it really comes up a lot. And [00:21:00] I think one of the ways in which volition comes through is in punitive measures in a school environment where you aren't trained differently. And what comes up is your personal background. What comes up is that's not right. And we've all heard she's so smart if she would just. We've all heard, he knows better, but [00:21:30] sometimes he really... And that's... Those are very strong assumptions. And so in the school environment, you give a warning and you give another warning, but you also become cranky because the child is in some way resisting you, resisting your classroom authority, resisting moving forward like other people in the classroom are clearly willing to do. So [00:22:00] here you have willingness and unwillingness. You hear this volition.

So, here's a different point of view. And it's what we bring every day to the classroom and to the environment of Stevenson. Biopsychosocial construct.

Adam Dayan: What does that mean?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: A biopsychosocial construct asks you to think about a biological underpinning that you [00:22:30] are living with. And so are children. It's universal. Everybody is, bio, psycho in psychosocial. And that is the psychological underpinnings of how a person is constructed and what a person can bear, what a person can cope with or not cope with. That's where we go when we think about emotion regulation. And then finally biopsychosocial and the [00:23:00] social aspects of queuing. Right? Queuing mechanisms like reading faces well, like understanding that somebody else could be having a difficult time for other reasons than the thing you think is the reason that they're mistreating you when in fact, they don't want to mistreat you or mean to mistreat you at all.

They don't know how to cope in a moment, and they need a moment and a little bit of structure [00:23:30] and a little bit of skill. And so, if the environment, and if the teacher, the adult around doesn't have the skill and doesn't have this mindset, a flexible mindset to understand it could be biological, it could be psychological, or it could be social. And you're not thinking like that every day, every day, all day long, then what kind of teacher if you don't think that way, [00:24:00] do you become? What else do you think? And the answer comes back to it sort of snaps back to volition. Right? So, you see a person. Let me give you a very easy example. Again, put a face on this. You walk into a classroom, you're a parent and you're touring, let's say, and you walk into a classroom and a child has her head on the desk, her hoodie on, and the hood up and [00:24:30] tied really tightly.

Adam Dayan: Right.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Is that allowed? So, let's just start with that first problematic question. What is allowance? What does that mean? And has anyone asked how she is and why she need it's to contain herself? This is a very different point of view.

Adam Dayan: I mean, the skillset that you are describing sounds like a very [00:25:00] rare skillset to come by in some settings. I mean, I'm just... The flexible mindset that you're describing, which I think is so important. And now I'm speaking from my experience as a special education attorney, it's so important to be able to try to understand what's happening with a child at a particular time, and then address it appropriately. But I've spoken with so many parents and experts and been in so many impartial hearings and listen to testimony. And I mean, I can tell you that there are so [00:25:30] many classrooms that are ill-equipped and teachers not to disparage any teacher in particular, but I think this is just a fact, who are not sufficiently trained to exercise that flexible mindset that you're talking about. And that's very concerning to me as a legal practitioner, because there are kids, emotionally complex kids who require teachers with that [00:26:00] flexible mindset and particular expertise.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes. And in response, what happens to a well-meaning and loving teacher who is prepared by a wonderful teacher's college and has been in the classroom for four years, five years? So, a very high level ready professional in the teaching environment. And what happens to her [00:26:30] in that moment where a child in some way, won't do what she says, what is she supposed to do? And there are 28 or 32 or 36 children in the classroom, and there's an aid, but the aid is not trained nor is the teacher trained to have that flexible mindset. So, if I may, there's this idea.

Adam Dayan: But before you get into the idea, I don't [00:27:00] want to derail this train. I mean, this is fascinating, but I just, I need to bring this up. I think it's directly related to what you just said, because you mentioned love and you once told me, I have a note on it here, and I'm going to read it. You once told me love is not enough to serve students who live with mood disorders of different kinds. And I think that is exactly what or talk about here. Isn't it?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes, it is. And it certainly moves beyond and is bigger than mood disorders, [00:27:30] mood disorders, just for your listeners can be diagnoses by a doctor of depression, of bipolar disorder. Those are examples of mood disorders, but about anxiety disorders? You can have a very high anxiety disorder that really does kind of stop you from being able to think clearly in the classroom when there's pressure and a time by which you need to absorb the information. [00:28:00] And so, yes, Adam. It's very important that a flexible mindset be in the domain of all teachers eventually, because when they come, as you say, that you go to hearing and you're hearing a teacher who is well meaning. So we're back to that kind of pro file of a teacher. Loving, cares about the kid, has probably [00:28:30] doubled over trying. But what she's been given to try with does not match the needs of the child.

And that is the disconnect. And what happens in our culture, is that the child is blood. The child is looked at as the problem, but we're not looking at what's really much less visible, which is the environment. The teaching approaches, the flexible [00:29:00] mindset of language, the flexible mindset of alternative. And here's the idea.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Someone once said, don't ask what's wrong with you, ask what happened to you. If every teacher could take the moment. And so we're back under the desk, right? Ideally in fourth grade where I could have sat down and said, "What happened? [00:29:30] I'm so upset that you're upset. I'm upset with you." That is a who different possible outcome than punitively dealing with how to get the kid out from under the desk, get the kid back in the chair, give the kid a pencil, a second pencil, tell him not to break this one. You hear how punitive this is. And what does that feel like for a kid? And [00:30:00] here we segue to a very important philosophy. It's hard to be a kid. It's very hard to be a child. We have all these skill sets and all this development of brain. We have all this education and these alternatives we can choose. They don't have that yet. It's not fair in some way to equalize them and expect and assume that they should be able to [00:30:30] reason something out. For example.

But we all know as adults, sometimes we can't ourselves feel reasonable if we're emotionally... If we have on set with emotion dysregulation ourselves, if we're upset by somebody, if we're triggered in some way. So, these are... This is language borrowed from psychodynamics, right? But it's easy to see you understand a trigger, it's a reaction.

Adam Dayan: [00:31:00] Yeah. I don't know. I'm having a very strong physiological reaction right now myself. What you're saying is really striking a chord. I don't know. I can, I've been there as a parent thinking or wanting to say, what's wrong with you? What's the matter with you? I bite my tongue, but the impulse is there and you're right. The appropriate question is, or should be what happened. [00:31:30] What happened to you? What set this off? That is a very good starting point for demonstrating that curiosity,

Speaker 1: You are listening to Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families with your host, Adam Dayan.

Adam Dayan: So, let's talk about Stevenson. I'd like to understand what is unique about the population you serve?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Children at Stevenson [00:32:00] are there because they're exquisitely sensitive. Exquisitely so. Meaning-

Adam Dayan: What do you mean by that? Tell me.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yeah.

Adam Dayan: Exquisitely sensitive?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Meaning that they are like anyone else who's typically developing and more in the middle of development sensitive, but more so, much more so, their acuity is higher, [00:32:30] their sensitivity to sound is... Can... Again-

Adam Dayan: It can be a positive and a negative in certain ways.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Our population in its exquisiteness of sensitivity comes with both sides of the coin. Let's say we have a child who's diagnosed appropriately, so by a well-informed doctor who's very good at this and is given a diagnosis. We can all agree for the sake of this to talk [00:33:00] is ADHD in his behavior manner. Well, I want to sort of pull that apart.

Adam Dayan: Okay.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Behavior and manner is different from what the doctor is saying is a psychiatric diagnosis because ADHD is a psychiatric diagnosis and there isn't a cure for ADHD and it's a medical model. Okay?

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: [00:33:30] So we call that not very good, that doesn't sound too good. That sounds hyperactive. He's going to be out of his seat. As I tend to say lovingly about students, especially younger students with ADHD and some with a capital H of hyperactivity, they are the pinnacle or the definition of the preposition.

Adam Dayan: Meaning?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: They are under the desk, on the desk, [00:34:00] beside the desk, et cetera. And so their bodies are in motion. If there's hyperactivity, bodies are in motion. Well, in some of my work with kids, I noticed for example, that there was a great deal of elegance in the motion, in the movement. And I thought there was a kid in particular I'm thinking of, and he was always in trouble and he was in trouble-

Adam Dayan: A Stevenson's [00:34:30] student?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: This is a middle school student at a specialized school.

Adam Dayan: Okay.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: With learning disabilities and ADHD. He was always in trouble because he was at the front of the classroom behind the desks and out of the classroom and nobody knew he was gone. And always where he shouldn't be. Sounds like my grandmother. Right? "You're always where you shouldn't be." Right? And I looked at him and [00:35:00] I thought, he's like a gazelle. There's something thing there to do something with, if he's hyperactive, where in another environment could he be where that would be loved, where someone would know just what to do with that gazelle, with that ability. And so, we have to go back to environment and that's where we now full circle saying, it's too much kids fault. It's [00:35:30] not true. It's not true that we should look at children who are having struggles and difficulties in the classroom and say, they're this and they're that. And they're not, and they're not, without ever saying, what is the school not?

Where are the services not? Where is the environment of every classroom not? Where are we not supporting the needs of this child? And so the end by the way of the story of this beautiful person in motion, [00:36:00] is that I introduced him to somebody at Martha Graham.

Adam Dayan: Martha Graham?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Martha Graham, the dance company.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: He was a principal dancer. And I said, "There's a kid, he's always in trouble. I don't want him to be in trouble only. Will you come and meet him?" I'll eat my hat if I'm wrong, he's a gazelle.

Adam Dayan: I was thinking you might be going in that direction. I thought it might be theater [00:36:30] or dance.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Not only did he eventually choreograph about a six minute piece. That was incredible with this professional meeting weekly in school during the school day. But the executive director of Graham, came to the final culminating event. And when he was done and all the parents and all the kids were, you knows screaming [00:37:00] and clapping and all of that, they went to Q&A, there were a bunch of questions that were very sweet from loving people. And then the executive director raised her hand and said, "Can you do that again exactly as you did it the first time?" There was no sound, there was almost no air in that moment in this auditorium. And he simply said, " [00:37:30] Yeah." She said, "Would you?" And he looked at his teacher and he looked at me and we both went, "Yeah, go ahead." And so we put the music back on and he was brilliant again.

Adam Dayan: It sounds like a very talented individual. And it goes back to that flexible mindset that we were talking about before. Right? Paying attention to the person and asking how can this person use what I'm seeing in a positive way? [00:38:00] Right?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: It's even, yes. And we were actually talking about how the medical model actually is a negative. And so, if you have bipolar or if you have depression and you're diagnosed with these names, what does it feel like? And we need them, of course, look, as adults we definitely need these sorts of informed diagnoses because they drive treatment. That's [00:38:30] the reason they exist. But we as practitioners in education ought to be looking at different models as well. We need to be looking at models of development. We need to be looking at talent and interest and where that... And this is a current line of thinking that I'm pursuing seriously that enrichment actually is an undervalued part of mental health.

[00:39:00] Enrichment, meaning talent and interest development, the encouragement of curiosity towards skill and interest and projects that you love and you value. Well, when bio of the biopsychosocial model kicks in and it's now Thursday, on Tuesday you were fine. And you had energy. On Thursday, you woke up [00:39:30] without a narrative, nothing went wrong and you can't think. And you can barely get out of bed and you're 15 and you don't know why, and you blame yourself and you think, "Come on, come on." But there is no narrative because it's bio and you have to be able to accept that and know that when you get to school, there are people who understand end and validate your [00:40:00] for example, loss of energy.

Adam Dayan: Right. So we'll get into that some more. I just want to make sure we're clear on the medical model side. Right? So in terms of diagnoses that the students in Stevenson present with. We're talking about typically depression, anxiety, ADHD, executive functioning challenges. Am I right?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: That's right. And executive functioning challenges, especially for parents who may be new to that and listening, are things like you [00:40:30] can't find the pair of socks in the same room when you need them. Your book is somewhere you can't find, you did your homework, but it didn't get to school, those pieces. And then internally, it's sequencing, it's prioritization, it's the process of decision making. It's organization, both internal organization and external, as I pointed out with socks. [00:41:00] So those are examples of executive functioning. And most children at our students are people who struggle in varying ways with executive performance.

Adam Dayan: Thank you for clarifying that piece. So, I want to ask you, for the parents who are listening to this podcast, and they haven't really taken any steps to begin the special education process, how would that type of listener [00:41:30] know to consider a school like Stevenson as a potential placement for their child? What are some signals or warning signs or incidents that they should be looking for to inform their process and signal that they should be considering a placement like Stevenson?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Well, you said both, what should they [00:42:00] be looking for and that they're new to the process. And I would say that's complicated because very typically parents in our population are not looking for, people are looking for them. People are calling to say, "Pick them up, pick her up, please." People are calling to say, "Could you come in and talk with us this week? I think maybe tomorrow." Well, [00:42:30] tomorrow's Tuesday, Friday I'm free. I think we'd better speak tomorrow."

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Again, punitive. Right? And so parents are very quickly feeling just like their children are meant to feel in this environment. Again, it's not, volitional, teachers are not volitional in there. They're not malicious, right? They don't mean to not support children. They love their kids. And that's why we're back to love is not [00:43:00] enough. You need service, you need education, you need skillset. And so, in the beginning, parents are not looking for, parents are dogged by professionals who are going after them saying, "He didn't do this, she didn't do that. She's missing four assignments." Those sorts of things. Right? She got into it with another child and the child wasn't doing anything.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: [00:43:30] So there are many ways in which parents come to looking only after a period of denial where they too have joined. As I told you, this is not just about schools not addressing the needs of mental health. This is every one of us, not really very good or very practiced in understanding what mental health is and what mental health [00:44:00] and wellness require as part of whole health. I bring that up-

Adam Dayan: As a culture.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: ... as a culture. And so, even the parents are punitive pretty quickly. You get a warning. I told you to get to this table. And so what's a different skillset? Once they are looking, they're starting to recognize or dawn in their awareness that this is not resistance. It is [00:44:30] volitional on the child's part. There are gaps in development, there are lagging skills, there are ways in which children in our population are genuinely confused about how to read something. And so, what goes on top of that is you should know. And that's not even conscious anymore among us adults in this country. And there we get into [00:45:00] this problem. So, in order for a parent to look for Stevenson, they're already in the next phase of parenting a child like this, or raising a child with either mood dysregulation or emotional complexities, how we talk about it at Stevenson.

Adam Dayan: Right. Okay.

Speaker 1: If you like what you are hearing, please let us know by subscribing to our podcast and letting [00:45:30] others know about it too. If you have thoughts, questions, comments, or would like to suggest ideas for a future episode, we'd love to hear it. So, email your feedback to

Adam Dayan: What happens inside your classrooms at Stevenson?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: I first will want you to understand why Stevenson is such a rare bird.

Adam Dayan: Okay.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: In the private school environment, [00:46:00] everyone in the private school environment. And this goes beyond the school environment that's private obviously, is focused on rich academic content. The difference at Stevenson is the integrated clinical approach throughout the day to our academics. At Stevenson, we take a very different approach and wonder what kind of energy does she [00:46:30] have today? And we ask.

Adam Dayan: So, let's pick up on that. Right? We've talked about there's some program that emphasize emotional support perhaps to the exclusion of academic support. There's other programs that do the reverse and at Stevenson, you focus on both. And so, how do you do it? Right? What you're talking about, tapping into the bio, psycho, social, I understand there's a counseling component to your program and school day. [00:47:00] How do you do it?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: To begin with, there are ways again of this in this integrated clinical approach throughout a school day that don't actually register in the way that you're describing it, which is like, there's a place you go and you talk to a therapist. And that's what makes you a therapeutic school. No, that's what makes you a mainstream school. And often getting [00:47:30] to that person, waiting in line for that person, whether the office is actually even occupied by the psychologist, because she's putting out two other fires, that's more the typical. At Stevenson, it starts with the structure of a day. What does a day look like for exquisitely sensitive kid?

Adam Dayan: What does it look like?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: We never put more than two classes together [00:48:00] that are 45 minutes in duration without a break. And this is throughout the day of 10 minutes, 20 minutes, so that children can decompress. We know that a 100% of our population will benefit from an opportunity to decompress and reset. So, reset emotionally and reset in terms of energy to have the time. We all [00:48:30] know this, we know this from teachers colleges everywhere, teach new content, new concepts for 20 minutes, and then break. Why? The answer is consolidation of information. But we don't often have that luxury. In a therapeutic environment, we do have the necessity of understanding how to invest in space. Our students need [00:49:00] to decompress.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So, for example, in a different kind of school, there is very strong thinking among teachers and in teachers colleges, that kids are freshest in the morning.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Okay. Not in my population. They're not particularly fresh and they very typically have kind of mysterious reasons. They can't identify themselves for why they're so tired and why they can't function [00:49:30] very easily in the morning. Why they can't shake themselves from sleep for example, and feel alert. Now, of course, there's a universality to that because hormones are raging in puberty. But I would also say that there are many environments in which you have to go from 8:15 in the morning to lunch. And the smart thinking is put everything most important that's hardest in the beginning of the day. [00:50:00] Right? Get that while you've got your kids fresh. So, in our population, we say differently, no double blocks, right? Not an hour and a half for one class, 45 minutes is sufficient for expert teachers to deliver their content and talk with kids about moving forward and standing on the shoulders of what they learned yesterday or last week, or what have you. [00:50:30] And at the same time, take a break.

So for example, some of our children over time have presented with and been diagnosed with OCD. Right? Obsessive compulsive disorder. That looks very different on different kids, right? So does autism spectrum disorder, looks very different to each individual. The important piece here is to understand that everyone needs to reset. [00:51:00] It's just invisible, but you have to regroup or you get exhausted. There are people-

Adam Dayan: So, how is that managed throughout the day? And specifically, I'm wondering about the role that counseling plays. I think you have a counseling center. So, what does the student's relationship with that counseling center look like and how are they managing their mental health as it fluctuates throughout the school [00:51:30] day?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So, Stevenson is a college prep. First and foremost, it's a private college prep. In that environment of preparing for college, really at all times, consciously, unconsciously, that is the drive of our readiness. The question is how do we get there? And that's individualized. You're asking about the counseling center and I will tell you that it runs like [00:52:00] nothing I've ever seen in a day school.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). How so?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Children are entitled to, encouraged to make the decision at any time of the school day, no matter when that they need a break.

Adam Dayan: Hmm.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So what are we saying when we offer an idea like that formally in the structure of a school, you can take a break whenever you need to? First, what does it look like? [00:52:30] You say, can I have a pass? That's all you need to say, and at Stevenson it isn't a conversation. It's not why? And you've got like every pair of ears, kind of going bo, bo, bo, bo. Right?

Adam Dayan: Yep.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Bionically, or you're going to miss the most important part of the lesson today. So I'm just saying, and then the child has to choose. That's not the way we go. [00:53:00] Stevenson takes the point of view of saying, "We validate and dignify that you know when you're having difficulty and we want you to catch it small, we want you to be in charge." You know what's inside and what's happening. We don't. And so, they ask for a pass, the answer is yes, right away, they take the pass, they go upstairs. [00:53:30] It's on the fourth floor of this brownstone. There's a triage desk, which is staffed with a PsyD or a PhD psychologist throughout the day as long as children are in the building. The first question may be something like, "Hey, what's up, where are you coming from?" "Well, I was in history and we were talking about World War II and Nazis came up and, I have a family involved in the Holocaust and it [00:54:00] just triggered me."

Now that's a savvy person who already has adopted and understands what it means to be triggered. And she's using that language well, right? And then there are littler kids who are not ready for that kind of sophistication. And they say, "I don't know." And we have a psychologist there who's ready and skilled and says, "Okay, how would you like to feel better?" Now that's a wonderful question in a college environment [00:54:30] for prep. Right? That's brilliant. Always it comes right out of dialectical behavior therapy and it's up to the child. The child might say right away. "I want to listen to my music."" Okay. I want to read by book." Okay. "I want to talk to somebody." Okay. And there's always someone to talk to. There are five PhD, clinicians or PsyD clinicians at [00:55:00] Stevenson, four full-time and one is a pre-doc. And so, there is no professional or adult decision making about what's best for the child.

Adam Dayan: Right.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: If you think about that and mainstream, because that's really been in the water between us in this conversation, right? It's like always there, what's the expectation typically and what can we do in a therapeutic environment? [00:55:30] And the answer is to the extent that we can follow the child. So, let me give you a... Let me just give you again, some specifics, if I may.

Adam Dayan: Can I ask you one question before you do? I know that school refusal, school avoidance, those are issues that you address at Stevenson. Is there ever a concern that having this type of policy regarding the counseling center, which [00:56:00] I think sounds wonderful in many ways and so useful, is there ever a concern that it may lead, that it may be used by the students as an excuse or a reason to out of class?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes, from time to time. And we say, bring it on because there is a reason that avoidance is present in that particular child at that time. It's a conversation. The question then is why? [00:56:30] What brings this avoidance? Are you aware? I've been noticing that you're here every day and during math, are you... Have you noticed that? Right? That's the clinical part coming in to support the child's thinking, but I would also like you to think about the importance we all place on children in any kind of educational environment pre-college towards readying for critical thinking. It's [00:57:00] a very, very important piece. Well, how critical is this in thinking we are asking someone something quite difficult. Right? If there's avoidance, it's smart. So, first and foremost, what is the message we're sending? We are dignifying and validating that the avoidance is intelligent and creative.

It is expressive. You are [00:57:30] not doing that all the time. You don't avoid everything. So, then this is particular and what do you think? And all of a sudden, you have a thinking person in front of you who's 12, or 15, or 17. It doesn't matter. That person is now reflecting and wondering. "Yeah. I don't know. I just..." And it could be fear and it could be fear of content. It could be [00:58:00] upset about something social in the classroom that's happening. It could be any number of things that causes avoidance. But if you have a more fixed mindset as a teacher, and you've got only so much time, the answer is shut it down. Move on. Okay? You're avoiding. Don't do that. Okay. How much success do you would have getting somebody [00:58:30] not to avoid by saying stop that? Don't avoid it.

Adam Dayan: Not much.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Right. It's still going to be very painful or even more so and give you bigger problems very likely. Go ahead.

Adam Dayan: Please, no. You were going to say something before I interjected.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yeah, it's gone.

Adam Dayan: It's gone. Bye, bye.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Bye, bye.

Adam Dayan: It'll come back.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes.

Adam Dayan: [00:59:00] I would like to talk about how you view the parent journey, raising a child with special needs and navigating the special education process.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: I'm really glad you asked that. And I think there's a reason you asked it following what we just discussed. And that's the matter of dignifying what you see and understanding the intelligence in what you're looking at. Parents are very quickly in our population, isolated [00:59:30] by parents of typically developing kids who don't have the troubles or struggles or difficulties that our population does. And that is not considered. So, first and foremost, what are you looking at when you talk about denial in a parent? And I will tell you, it's the first step that you cannot avoid in raising [01:00:00] an emotionally complex child, because it's so messy. It isn't like you give the instruction and then the child goes and does what you say. Now, I don't mean to say people are robots, even in the developing, typically developing world. I mean to say that the level or severity of those activities of difficulty are more recurrent and more intense for [01:00:30] parents experiencing their children.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Okay? And so it's harder to parenting. It's much harder to parent a child who is very, very sensitive and lagging in development in different ways and lagging in skills in different ways. So, it's all a synchronous and you have to have skill for that. Parents are not trained this way. We've been talking about how God bless every teacher. Teachers [01:01:00] are not taught this way.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Well, either are parents. And the expectations and assumptions made of parents is an intergenerational American phenomenon. I would say it's beyond America, but I just want to talk about this country that we're in and the way in which we are not really ready to "raise a child" the way we think we are. It's so narrow when we think about that. [01:01:30] You're going to feed them, you're going to give them clothing and you're going to have a school thing and you're going to know these are complex individuals working on who they are. But that's so inconvenient to think about as a parent. You just want the kid to take the ball in Central Park and throw it to the peer, not run away with the ball because his perception of the ball game is that they [01:02:00] weren't being nice to him.

Adam Dayan: Right. So denial is the first stage-

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Denial.

Adam Dayan: ... because parents of these assumptions or expectations, which may be cultural?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes. And if I could help listeners understand what we mean by denial and dignifying denial, is to recognize that it is part of an opening, it is part of a system of pain and [01:02:30] a lot of fear. You don't want your child to be lagging in development. You don't want your child to be lagging in emotional regulation. You don't want... You just want it to be a phase or you want it to be volitional or you want it to be... It's a kind of get your act together. There's a point at which that becomes very problematic in the social context of a school [01:03:00] and the way in which parents negotiate their social environment, their society, the PTA, the coffees, somebody inviting a group over to their apartment for a Suare.

Any number of these things like the way in which options should be opening for children and are closed, unfortunately, [01:03:30] more and more instead of opening more and more in our population, same for the parents. All of a sudden, they're not getting invited to that dinner. And they're not actually invited to the baseball game in Central Park. And they're not invited ultimately, if this continues to birthday parties.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: What! And so they actually feel stigmatized. It is not just [01:04:00] happening to the child, it's happening to the family.

Adam Dayan: Right.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And so to your point, if we who are lucky enough to have a well regulated kid and kind of raising our children the way that we have narrowly defined what we need to do as parents to be ready to do a good job, those parents need to be able to say with heart, [01:04:30] with thought, with skill, "Ah, this must be very painful. I'm going to invite them on Saturday instead of Friday so we can really spend time together. I'm going to call Jerry and ask how he's doing. I'm going to ask what it's like at home because I know it's... I've been hearing about what's going on in the classroom," for example. Right?

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And so, ultimately [01:05:00] denial leads to an opening learning. And as that dawning that we were talking about earlier, you asked earlier, how does someone-

Adam Dayan: Is this the next stage?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes, it is.

Adam Dayan: Okay. So we've covered denial. Now, you're covering dawning.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Where parents start to think, "Okay, this is something else. I thought he was just being stubborn, belligerent, [01:05:30] difficult. He likes to be difficult. He gets attention. He likes the negative attention." You can hear in my voice, this is very typical. And you start to become depressed yourself in some way. I don't mean clinically necessarily, but demoralized and you realize, what! What! This isn't going away. And the school called and suggested a neuropsychological [01:06:00] evaluation. He's not even five.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Right?

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And that's a very lucky parent. If they're getting that call and they're receptive and open to being enriched with information at that early age, they will be able to intervene better and better. And really also help other parents along the way.

Adam Dayan: Sure. I mean, I can echo that [01:06:30] wholeheartedly as a legal practitioner. I know we've spoken about this, just needing to get information and awareness. I'm talking about parents from early on because the more they can do early, the bigger the difference it will make in the progress and development of that child. And one goal that I have for this podcast is to let parents know, parents, if you're listening, there's a whole process. There's a whole system set up so that you can [01:07:00] take advantage of resources and get the information you need to understand what's happening with your child. You don't have to know how to figure it out on your own. There are professionals out there whose jobs it is to help you figure out what's going on with your child from a clinical standpoint and take away from you as a parent.

Yes, you're the parent and you know your child best, but there are also professionals out there who can conduct tests and look at it in [01:07:30] a different way through different lenses and help you understand what is happening clinically, developmentally, academically, socially, emotionally with your child, so that you can put the ball in motion early. Two, three, four, five years old, early so that you haven't lost years of your child's suffering and their self-esteem dropping and they're shutting down and spiraling and they've given up because [01:08:00] it's just too hard and they're not getting the flexible mindset or attention that they need. And they're done. You want to intervene before that happens and get the right supports and services. And there are people out there who can help you do that.

Speaker 1: You are listening to Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families, with your host, Adam Dayan.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Yes. And your point about early intervention [01:08:30] is powerful. Of course, we've been listening through the discussions of pre-K around the country to the importance of starting early. This is a different kind of early. So, the question that of course is begged to be asked is, well, if they are seeing these difficulties, why aren't they starting earlier? And the answer is, they're not alone. [01:09:00] There is not the support just like in a classroom, if you're in the wrong environment and there are no services for your emotional complexity, it's you, it looks like it's, you're the problem. Same for parents. And so a parent's parents are calling up and saying, "You're too lenient. He needs a good swift kick in the pants. That's what he needs." Right? You [01:09:30] see something and someone says, who's raising a typically developing person. "Oh, that, yeah, no, we see that all the time. It's nothing." But they don't understand what it actually looks like when severity is higher. Everyone needs to be aware of each person's mental health and wellness and the regimen that we need.

We need sleep [01:10:00] to be regulated. We need nutrition to be regulated. We need lots of basic things like that throughout our lifespan. Well, similarly, if children very early on aren't sleeping very well, this is very famous by the way.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Just their kid doesn't sleep well. I will tell you my child, never, everybody else had a child sleeping with two naps. [01:10:30] My child never slept two naps. Never.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And so... But I dismissed it. As like, I just didn't hear support in the environment to say, "You know, your insight is interesting. Hold onto it, write it down, maybe start a journal and pay attention." They're not hearing that. They're hearing, don't pay attention. And I want to relay this to children. You can see [01:11:00] how children in their parent are treated sometimes very similarly and also experience profound resonance together, but in their separate zones, from the adult perspective and from the kids. Kids, and this is what I wanted to paint for you earlier.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Let's just say you're the teacher.

Adam Dayan: Is this the thought that we lost?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: This is the thought we lost.

Adam Dayan: It's back.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: We found it.

Adam Dayan: Beautiful.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And it's beautifully placed right now. You're the teacher [01:11:30] and I am the student and my toes are curling in my shoes. I'm very uncomfortable, I'm nervous. And in my personhood, what happens to me is my toes start to curl under really hard. And I don't notice anything until my feet hurt. Cut. Next scene. Another child sitting beside that child is sweating under her pits. Cut. Next child. Another [01:12:00] child isn't breathing, is holding her stomach in, is breathing very, very short breaths. Cut. Another child has sweaty palms. Another child, cut, has quivering lips. Ask yourself now as a teacher, could you have seen anything like that? It's so subtle. And some of it is just not visible.

Adam Dayan: Right.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So how can you then, [01:12:30] how can we be teachers who are not shifting this kind of flexibility? And I want to offer you something from the head of school at Stevenson who said something I just loved. He was talking about the kind of tension that exists for him in this famous, nationally famous idea of rigor.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Academic rigor and rigor in the school. Rigor... And they actually paint rigor in big letters [01:13:00] on walls and things. And it bothers him. And he's been thinking about a lot. And he came to us and said, "It's not rigor, not for us. It's vigor. It's to invigorate, it's to engage." We prize, we value at Stevenson what it means to have vigor, to be awake, to have [01:13:30] a sense of availability to oneself as a student. And so, I want to bring this back to your comment earlier, which I appreciate, which is school refusal.

I want you to know in the pandemic era, we certainly see evidence of that at Stevenson. And I can give you a way to look at it. Very typically numbers percentages, let's say of the extent to which children arrive to Stevenson with [01:14:00] a well-informed diagnosis from the medical model, are actually now coming in mostly with three or more diagnoses.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So more intensity, more onset of complication is happening in our microcosm. And now you can hear, of course what's happening in the country and on every radio station on every news casts [01:14:30] environment. They're talking as anchors about how exhausted parents are, how stressed children are. Well, yes.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And so, I do think that school refusal is connected to this tissue. Right? And I would say that often it's as invisible. And so for example, I'll take us back to children who are at, let's just say [01:15:00] a highly competitive public school in New York.

Adam Dayan: Okay.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Okay? And let's say that his full scale IQ, so that would come from an IQ test like the WISC or what have you. Your other guests have talked very well about that. And let's say it's 136. That's very, very, very high. And let's say in all the sub-tests, because an evaluation is a compilation of sub-tests [01:15:30] to get at what's going on internally in development, in a synchronous or asynchronous development in the brain and circuitry, and that person with a 136 IQ with superior, superior, superior, superior, superior in all the sub-tests, right. Is flunking out of every school when the parents make their application to Stevenson, how [01:16:00] come? How is that possible? You have this brilliant kid at a very competitive school just to get in is like unbelievable, and he's not available.

And that should be if teachers, if principals and others who are in education are listening, that is a wake up to an opportunity for your own learning. That is an opportunity to say, "Wait, we can't [01:16:30] ever let go of how able he is. If he's unavailable, our job is to ask what's happening?"

Adam Dayan: So, I think that's a good segue. Let's bring it back to the journey, right? You mentioned denial. You talked about dawning. What comes [01:17:00] next?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Acceptance in this period of learning then comes doing. And that is the period of acceptance where you are suddenly and somehow energized to produce. You are interviewing education lawyers. You are assessing your child professionally. You are looking for the first time at different kinds schools. [01:17:30] You are talking for the first time in a different way about the needs of your child with friends, for example, and family members where those conversations really didn't happen. It was still in the world of punitive stuff and getting him or her or them to behave differently. And so, instead now in the period of acceptance, we are productive and we are not just learning, [01:18:00] we are doing.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Very important stage of the journey. Is that where the journey ends from your perspective?

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Not at all, because the last part, which is ongoing, is what I call professionalized parenting. This aspect or idea, again in adult development, in parenting on this level, this is, you can just call it super parenting because most parents who have children who are [01:18:30] typically developing and do not have emotionally complex challenges and many of them, they just don't have to practice a lot of the other skills that our parents do. And so in that period of acceptance, they're also starting to practice. They're practicing. So, for example someone calls you.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: Okay? So that parent is very clearly not just getting information, but is learning and then syncing [01:19:00] up what you say to her circumstances and what the school has told her and is figuring out how you can be helpful.

Adam Dayan: Sure.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: And now you are telling her how to be helpful. And she's writing copious notes and all of a sudden you are in this stage of what I would call flourishing.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: The part that is professionalized parenting, which is super parenting, is [01:19:30] really using the gifts now of mastery. We talk about mastery all the time in higher levels of education, that that is one of the goals of good teaching is to bring children to the level of mastery, right?

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: We have masters programs for young adults. And so what is that here for pay parents? And in this environment for parents, professionalized parenting means that you are on an ongoing [01:20:00] basis, able to reflect on how many parts of the development of your child and your child's needs are going. If any changes need to be made, how to get yourself to a support group that is parent to parent a nonclinical.

Adam Dayan: Yeah.

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: How to consider being in a clinical group of a parent psychotherapy, so that you can hear other parents and [01:20:30] actually be a part of healing together.

Adam Dayan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jerry Pavlon-Blum: So in many, many ways, while there... You can hear that there is actually a series of stages of development, the ongoing nature of mastery really set you up into your child's young adulthood and into adulthood and allows you to be open to very, very different opportunities, different options, different pathways than the typically developing parent [01:21:00] who is only practicing what the parent needs to practice can do.

Adam Dayan: Wow, Jerry so much to discuss. We're actually out of time for this episode, stay right there. We're going to keep chatting for our listeners. You can catch the rest of our conversation next time on Curious Incident. In the meantime, you can follow Jerry and the Robert Lewis Stevenson School by Googling Robert Lewis Stevenson School, New York city. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Curious Incident.

Speaker 1: [01:21:30] Thanks for listening to Curious Incident, a podcast for special needs families. Don't forget to subscribe for a new episode every month. For more resources and helpful information, check out our blog at This podcast provides general information, which is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely on this information for any purpose. For legal counsel, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances. Your listening to this podcast does not create an attorney-client [01:22:00] relationship between you and the law offices of Adam Dayan PLLC. No attorney- client relationship is established unless a retainer agreement has been executed between a client and the law of Adam Dayan. This podcast may constitute attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Any guest featured or resources mentioned on this podcast are for information purposes and are not endorsed by the law offices of Adam Dayan PLLC.


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