THE 3RD ANNUAL

Bright & Quirky Child Summit

Help bright kids thrive, even with learning, social and/or emotional challenges

Session 2: A Revolutionary Science-Based Lens for Understanding Bright & Quirky Kids

Stephen Porges, PhD

With a fascinating blend of personal experience grounded in the science of polyvagal theory, Dr. Stephen Porges explains how our kids want to do the right thing, but their bodies are often in states that do not support that. This results in behavior that gets labeled "bad" or "uncooperative." In this powerful talk you will learn how physiological and behavioral states are linked, why timeouts and isolation have the opposite effect on self-regulation, and how to be a calming presence in your child's life. Dr. Porges discusses his Safe and Sound Protocol that helps retune accoustical pathways in the brain to be able to process and appreciate cues of safety, providing the necessary platform for learning and social engagement. Dr. Porges drills down simply and beautifully to what matters most in supporting our children, and you especially won't want to miss this talk if your child has anxiety, gut issues, auditory sensitivities, a history of chronic ear infections, or food selectivity issues.

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60 Comments

  1. Marcia on March 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Thank you!! I am searching for the book mentioned in the talk “Grounded” by Kate Wilson. I cannot find any matches for this title. Could I have more details?

    • Kim on March 22, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Marcia,

      The book’s author is Claire Wilson – she’s in the UK. Info about the book can be found here: https://chew.mykajabi.com/grounded-book. Hope this helps!

      • Kim on March 22, 2020 at 1:07 pm

        Just to add – she’s the 3rd speaker on Day 5.

  2. Zoltan Valiani-Merchant on March 19, 2020 at 6:21 am

    Dear Kat,
    YIKES! that protocol is awful and must be so scary/upsetting. My son in early pre-school went through a similar experience: he was ignored, disliked by staff because he “ran funny, couldn’t take off or put the n his own shoes, etc.. She said that he wouldn’t interact with the teacher who gave the “one-on-one” lessons, but he did listen in on lessons given to other children (Montessori-ish program, but done so poorly!) – so, “at least” she knew he was learning. I was so upset, who gives this kind of feedback to the parent of a sweet child under three? Worst, some of her observations could have been helpful to reach an ASD diagnosis before 2nd grade and to to get started with OT or other therapy before age 6 for sensory processing d/o. Neuroception is so important. I gave birth to my colicky, constantly in motion, poorly feeding but in between the hours of screaming, an incredibly engaging, super-intense DS2 (future BQ kid) 3 days later after spending a weekend climbing stairwells in older buildings while visiting other preschools for the following year for DS1.

    I ultimately pulled DS1 out of his school early (by spring his only comments were (“they pushed me today“ or “they didn’t push me today”) and I scoundrel him crying in the misdle of his rainy day room, absolutely uncomforted – at age 3! – by staff and students continuing with creative movement as they utterly ignored him. I was livid. At his next school, he had a lovely, nurturing, rich learning environment (in another, much more “true” montessori setting surrounded by kindness and understanding for the next 6 years. He is 14 now and it’s been a long journey, but thankfully, despite many bumps, amazingly kind and knowledgeable professionals have helped us to help him.

    Dear BQ team,

  3. Katherine Duarte on March 18, 2020 at 10:05 am

    It would be great if the public school system could have 6-7 students in a class and then be allowed to accommodate all student needs.

  4. Amanda on March 14, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Amazing talk and interview! So much valuable information. What a lovely man too. A huge thank you.

    • Charlotte on March 17, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      cant wait to find out more about safe and sound protocol. invaluable interview, thankyou!!!!

    • Colleen on March 18, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      Yes, I just want to hug him!

  5. Clare on March 13, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    My son is 3 and just diagnosed ASD a few months ago. He’s such a bright, sweet boy but spends so much of his time in a very hyper mode. His occupational therapist has been trying to get him to do something that sounds very much like the SSP but even after a month and a half neither myself or the therapist can convince my son to wear headphones. He really doesn’t want to! Has anyone dealt with headphone aversion? Any tricks that helped your kid welcome the headphone experience? At this point, we’ve decided to lay off trying to get him to wear them because it obviously makes him super uncomfortable but will probably try again in the future. Part of it might be that after chronic ear infections and then tube surgery he’s just really protective of his ears – which I totally understand, but at the same time I do wonder if SSP could really help him. On a side note, can SSP be done without headphones? Like just out of regular speakers?

    • Kim on March 17, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Clare, there has been some experimentation with the use of speakers in lieu of headphones for children who are unable to tolerate the headphones. The issue is that not all “regular speakers” will suffice, as the quality of the sound frequencies being played is very important. Integrated Listening Systems (the provider of SSP) does offer (to clinicians) a pair of speakers that have been tested by other professionals using the SSP; you may want to ask your OT to look into that. There was also a recent update of the clinical training for the SSP, so if your provider has not yet delved into that, there may be more information there about how to work with headphone refusal, as it is a not uncommon occurrence. Good luck!

  6. Mireya on March 13, 2020 at 11:38 am

    My husband and I both watched this. Together. So we could remind each other what we need to do better!! This was incredibly eye opening and insightful. Thank you!!

  7. Anna on March 13, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Enjoyed this talk very much! Loved that Stephen said parents have to parent whereas grandparents have to love and support? as a grandparent I fully agree!?

  8. Dana D on March 13, 2020 at 5:30 am

    Wow! Thank you for including Dr. Porges in this summit. I wish I could home school my children so they weren’t forced to comply to school rules. My youngest is 7 and in 2nd grade. He has been “different”from his peers since preschool. He has lots of quirky movements. He is always moving and learns super fast. His teachers every year put him on behavior charts and he does well on them. He articulated that it shows him what to do. I wish he could just be himself instead of being forced to “behave”.

  9. Kimberly on March 13, 2020 at 4:33 am

    I am so many other parents are eternally grateful for Dr. Porges’ work. His Safe and Sound protocol has absolutely changed my son’s life and given so much hope. There is a Facebook group that has many testimonials and links to information for anyone that is interested in learning more. It is a parent group but there are a great number of professionals in the group as well, all are welcome.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/472809433119856/

  10. Miranda F on March 12, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    Wonderful to hear! I’m always looking for ways to bring safety to ease my daughters defensive state. Listening today I’m once again struck by my responsibility and that can feel overwhelming. I’d been unconsciously. living from this trauma state up until my daughter arrived. I knew connection was key but my body immediately became defensive upon her arrival. Even though I wanted to connect I couldn’t. Hearing Stephen has given me insight into what happened some 8 years ago. Thankfully over time my awareness has grown but it’s a tough journey to parent a child with trauma at the same time as reparenting yourself!! I’m looking forward to hearing more.

  11. Mary Frook on March 12, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for such wonderful and supportive information.

  12. Gloria Gallardo-Walker on March 12, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    I do wish all our educators could hear Dr. Stephen Porges for his idea of how each child needs to learn to self-regulate within that relationship piece of co-regulation and how our own physiological response to the child can help them feel safe and/or rejected. Instead of reacting behaviourally we need to consider their underlying physiological needs and validate that as well as bank those positive and safe moments for our kids to be able to take in learning opportunities rather than time them out in isolation which is punishing.

    • Rachel on March 12, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      Agreed! This talk was SO good and informative. Matches a lot of what my son’s therapist has described.

  13. (Another) Miriam on March 12, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you so much for this talk!
    This has explained so well why my little schoolboy (started school only last month!) is so much happier in his current setting than he was at his previous preschool.
    We often had tummy aches, meltdowns or simply refusing to go to “Kindy” last year and much of it was due to his “neuroception” of the teachers’ (and my) attitude towards his behaviours and feelings. I was almost in tears the first week at his new school because in an impromptu chat with educators they (genuinely) said, “He is such a delightful child, isn’t he?”. His previous school had used the same wording in a final assessment, but I couldn’t believe they actually meant it, considering their approach to him for the whole rest of the past year ?

    This summit is great timing for us as we are starting to see specialists over the next quarter (including an Occupational therapist next week) and also applying for government funding, which requires a lot of explaining how my son’s behaviours/issues impact his and our lives.

  14. Elena on March 12, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    I found Dr Porges’ talk about the psychological representation of the child’s physiological state very insightful.

  15. Miriam on March 12, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    This talk was incredibly helpful and has given me so much to think about and explore with my oldest (4 yo son)!

  16. Anne S. Ryan on March 12, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    I don’t understand Dr. Porges’ statement that there are no traumatic events only traumatic responses. Would very much like to understand what is meant.

    • Debbie Steinberg-Kuntz on March 12, 2020 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Anne, Here’s my interpretation. You can have a classroom with 25 kids. For 24 of the kids, it’s a regular classroom. For the one child melting down due to self-regulation challenges, which is met by chronic criticism, shame, blame, or punishment for non-compliance, that child may experience the same classroom as traumatizing. It’s not the place or the event, it’s the internal state it triggers. Porges encourages us to shift the educational paradigm so that when we see kids melting down we see it as a nervous system under threat that needs to be soothed by a comforting, caring presence, much like we would calm a scared animal. This is a totally new lens for many. Other speakers in the summit will be speaking to this as well: Stuart Shanker, Mona Delahooke, Claire Wilson, Tina Payne Bryson. Hope that helps!

  17. Laura Genevieve on March 12, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Wow!! I truly enjoyed watching this interview with Dr Stephen W Porges. Gives such detailed information about anxiety and the nervous system and how it reacts and also about the safe and sound protocols!! Thank you so much for this.

  18. Andrea on March 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    How do we get more information about the safe and sound protocol? Can parents implement this?

    • Debbie Steinberg-Kuntz on March 12, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Here you go, Andrea: https://integratedlistening.com/ssp-safe-sound-protocol/. Parents need to work with a trained facilitator. There is an online training course. Prerequisite according to the ILS website: Licensed clinical/educational prof with a masters level degree or higher.

  19. Cindy on March 12, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    We have journeyed for 6 years so far, unwinding the experience my son had for the first 6 months of his kindy year where he was not witnessed by the adults around him including me. As soon as we realised he was struggling we wrapped our arms around him, acknowledged and accepted that he needed us more than ever (thus putting aside our fears that he would be forever dependent on us and that he would never be an independent human being) and changed a lot of things we were doing. Whilst he was immensely more at ease at home almost straight away it has taken him this long to feel comfortable at school. This year we are seeing that smile at the end of the tunnel every single time we look at him. A lot of the things that Dr Porges said today in his talk are the things that made a massive difference for us. We hope that we can continue to share Stephens approach with the other adults we entrust our son to when he leaves the house Monday through Friday.

    • Lauren on March 12, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      Yes Cindy! Isn’t it great that your practices align with the science and experts. Kudos to you and thank you for sharing this important information!
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  20. Cindy on March 12, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    We have journeyed for 6 years so far, unwinding the trauma my son experienced for the first 6 months of his kindy year where he was not witnessed by the adults around him including me. As soon as I realised he was struggling I wrapped my arms around him, acknowledged and accepted that he needed me more than ever (thus putting aside my fears that he would be forever dependent on me and that he would never be an independent human being) and changed a lot of things I was doing. Whilst he was immensely more at ease at home it has taken him this long to feel comfortable at school. This year we are seeing that smile at the end of the tunnel every single time we look at him. A lot of the things that Dr Porges said today in his talk are the thing that made a massive difference for us. We hope that we can continue to share Stephen’s insight with the other adults we entrust our son to when he leaves the home Monday through Friday. And we hope that they are more open to witnessing our son’s humanity.

  21. Brigitte Bolte on March 12, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Great interview. I found that much of what he spoke about overlapes nicely with many of the ideas of other researchers. I heard similarities to attachment theory and some echoes of “kids will do well if they can” voiced by Dr. Greene. I also heard similar thinking to Dr. Neufeld (Hold onto your kids). The importance of co-regulating and being present with your child.
    The challenge comes with parental burnout and trying to shift the paradigm with little to no energy left. Much like the child who has been traumatized, so to has the parent subjected to seemingly impossible odds (fighting a system that simply is not designed to support the child who does not fit the box) Similarily removing a child from the trauma and asking for patience and support to meet them where they are at, it seems the parents who are expected to remain pillars of strength are not given the same consideration or patience. It can be overwhelming and fill ones heart with guilt and dismay.

    • Anna on March 12, 2020 at 9:39 pm

      Agreed! How do we find the support we need in order to support the child? I’ve been trying to find a counselor in our area that works with children and there are none who take our insurance, and none who have experience with gifted kids. I’m trying to figure out if we can drive an hour and a half each way to see a counselor in the next town who also doesn’t have experience with gifted kids but at least takes our insurance. There’s no easy answers.

    • Miranda F on March 12, 2020 at 11:16 pm

      Brigitte I’m with you and what you say about parents. I’m an adoptive mum and what I hadn’t taken into account was how the trauma my body carries would get in the way of being the connected parent I want to be. When I listen to Stephen and other trauma specialists it’s with an ear to reparenting myself so I can be the parent my child needs me to be.

  22. Jennifer Curry on March 12, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you for this. I don’t know if any content will explore this later, but you touched on how to support kids with anxiety and making kids feel supported. We’ve gotten some coaching from therapists and psychologists about how to help our kids approach their discomfort rather than avoid it. We’ve been trying different tools and tactics and are always eager to learn more.

    • Sheryl on March 12, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I’m one of the parent coaches here with BQ. The anxiety piece is so prevalent for our 2E kids. Be sure to watch/listen tomorrow for the talks on “How to soothe stress, anxiety, and emotional intensity.” Every one of them has important doable guidance and insight! Let us know there what you find helpful – would love to hear!

    • Lauren on March 12, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Dr, Kendra Read’s talk tomorrow delves directly into helping our child work through anxiety without avoidance. Don’t miss it!
      -Lauren with the Bright & Quirky Team

  23. Signe on March 12, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    What an amazing talk! So much insight. What it really made me realize is how often I meet my kids with a sort of exasperated, tired expression on my face and how that affects them. I’m feeling very motivated to be more mindful of that.
    The part about how the classroom isn’t a scary place for some kids but for some it’s devastating also really reminded me of my older son (who can be very hyper-sensitive) and his experience in school in the past and how his reactions were very misunderstood. I remember one person, with the best intentions, being so baffled and saying to me that “school isn’t a bad place”. Well, for him it was.
    Thank you for this talk. I agree with you Debbie, truly life-changing.

    • Sheryl on March 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you for sharing this, Signe, it is life changing. I wish my spouse and I had understood this when our kids were young. So glad you have access to this now, Signe. I’m one of the parent coaches here for BQ. Looking forward to hearing what pearls you come away with in the other talks as well. So glad you found us.

  24. Denise Beins on March 12, 2020 at 11:45 am

    This brings so much understanding and hope for kids and parents to learn the connection between the physiological state and the behavioral state. Thank you!

    • Sheryl on March 12, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      So agree with you, Denise!!

  25. Tracy Harrington on March 12, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Great information and well explained. I can see both of my children’s behaviours described in this talk. I have several takeaways and will look further into underachievement and the neurological reaction to trauma, the Safe & Sound Protocals for helping reduce hypersensitivities, and the UZk book Grounded. Thank you!

    • Sheryl on March 12, 2020 at 2:21 pm

      So glad this sparked your insight and curiosity to learn more, Tracy! Now flourishing seems possible, even likely! I love hearing your thoughts. Please consider telling us about your experiences as you listen to the other talks, too, Tracy. I’m one of the parent coaches here for BQ. So glad you’re here, and shared. Thank you!

  26. Kristina on March 12, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Thank you! THIS! Definitely a life changing window into my position as a homeschooling mom. This reinforces my focus on not calling what I do Homeschooling, but Lifeschooling!

    • Lauren on March 12, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      Yes! There is such a difference between schooling and learning. It’s such an important distinction. 🙂
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  27. tripti on March 12, 2020 at 10:44 am

    Very insightful. How stereotypical are we while dealing with kids…its give you different perspective to understand their world and physiology….how my reaction , gestures and words can make them feel safe and calm than the award/stickers for being good ….
    thanks a lot for sharing this..

    • Sheryl on March 12, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Wow, tripti! How the world shifts! You have changed the trajectory of living for you and your family with this! Happy for all of you! I’m one of the parent coaches here. Wondering how the other talks will shift things for you, too. Lots of new perspectives ahead.

  28. Rachael on March 12, 2020 at 10:43 am

    This one almost had me in tears with how perfectly this fits with everything we are going through currently with our 8 year old. So much insight into how all these things he’s gone through are connected and have led up to where we are now (chronic ear infections from birth, food selectivity, anxiety, aggressive outbursts) just so emotionally overwhelming for me.

    • Lauren on March 12, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      So glad you liked this powerful talk, Rachael! It was so eye opening for me too to hear how he connected the chronic ear infections, food selectivity, anxiety, and emotional regulation together. His polyvagal theory is so applicable to our kids!
      -Lauren wth the B&Q Team

  29. Susan on March 12, 2020 at 10:03 am

    The SSP sounds really promising. Is a parent able to implement the Safe and Sound Protocols at home or is access limited to professional, clinical settings. Out 13 yr. old has been emotionally burned/traumatized by school settings and by specialists so he has extreme defensive reactions to school and clinical settings. We do best implementing things at home.

  30. Kate Bailey on March 12, 2020 at 9:57 am

    DIR Floortime is a relationship based model that is all about CONNECTING.
    Fits perfectly with Dr Porges insights and theories.
    Wonderful, thank you

    • Lauren on March 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Katie, don’t missMonica Osgood’s talk on Day 4. She will be talking more about DIR.
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  31. Al on March 12, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Wow….just watched as an adult facing parents decline..over lay this knowledge…patience..acknowledge their fears and drive to sooth them….hearing,digestion,projection…new meanings for safety…not just handrails and doorlocks..eye opening…thanks for the chance to learn from an expert.

  32. Sabrina on March 12, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Wow! Such great learning in this talk! I still have trouble not reacting to my girls in certain situations, but this talk renews my desire to keep trying to be the parent I want to be. My parents still think in the ‘coddling’ terms, and this talk reassures me that we’re on the right path.

    • Sheryl on March 12, 2020 at 2:31 pm

      Yes you are!! Keep listening to all the talks, and you will rarely doubt that your on the right path again!
      – Sheryl with the B&Q Team

  33. Maggie on March 12, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Wow. I agree. Life changing. I recently learned of my sons highly gifted academic achievements and the more I learn the more I realize my older daughter is probably an undiagnosed 2e child. And this video just makes me realize how damaging my own anxieties are to the stability and growth of my kids. Here I thought I was managing okay. And now I realize that okay isn’t good enough.

    • Jennifer on March 12, 2020 at 10:13 am

      I am in a similar situation here!! My kids are now teens and I can look back on their childhood in a different light and feel as though perhaps I contributed to the problem. But going there won’t solve anything and will only make me feel bad about myself. Please don’t beat yourself up – we only know what we know and we can only act based on that knowing. Now you have a new perspective, a new knowing and you can act on that!!

  34. Lindsy Eklof on March 12, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I think, for me, I absolutely identify with what he said about the parents reacting to the child and their nervous systems being triggered. I believe these principles with all my heart and mind, but I think my body goes somewhere else almost immediately. How do I help MYSELF know that I’m in a safe environment, so that I can then provide that for my children?

    • Becky K on March 12, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Ah, isn’t this the crazy difficult part?! I am asking myself this question constantly. When I started asking this question, it led me to learn more about emotions and physiology. As you know theres no one size fits all, but I have learned a few strategies that help me. 1) Movement. Regular exercise is great, but ‘Im talking in the moment, quick release of cortisol type movement. Shaking out my body is my favorite. 2)Breath. I used to be annoyed when ppl would suggest deep breathing, but then I learned how to actually do it. I also learned about the science and physiology behind WHY and it’s fascinating. 3) Go through my senses. This can help me from spiraling and brings me back to whats real right now. 5 things I see? 4 things I hear? 3 I feel? 2 I smell? 1 taste? This noticing is harder than it sounds, and the exercise is to keep bringing myself back when I get distracted. AND with all of this, that I have spent years learning about myself, I still react …. less than optimally 😉 all the time. Take care mama, it’s hard and you can handle it.

  35. Vandy on March 12, 2020 at 9:14 am

    How the body shifts and the relationship and q’s all go together is insightful.

  36. Kat Wolfe on March 12, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Would love for PBIS and other ABA professionals to hear Dr. Stephens messages! Especially in regards to hypocrisy of self contained Emotionally Behaviorally Disturbed students.

    On PBIS web page in regards to seclusion & restraint: “Restraint and seclusion are not planned or therapeutic interventions and should never be a routine part of a behavior support plan or used as a consequence for behavior.”  

    And yet several handbooks state (or something similar):
    Steps in Behavior Intervention
    * Appropriate behavior modification techniques employed in the classroom i.e. verbal/extrinsic positive reinforcement to students displaying the appropriate behaviors, redirection, etc.
    * The student is informed that appropriate behavior earns his point.
    * The student is warned that continued inappropriate behavior will result in a 5-minute classroom time-out.
    * 5-minute classroom time-out (the ‘preventative’ strategies have become the intervention strategies)
    * Sit facing forward with both feet on the floor
    * Quiet
    * No objects may be taken with them
    * 1 restart for not meeting these expectations
    * In-house for continued inability to meet these expectations
    * In-house (seclusion is the intervention strategy for non-compliance to not have emotional impairments)
    * Stay in seat facing forward with both feet on the floor
    * Raise hand and wait to be called upon to converse with staff
    * Remain on task for 30 minutes and/or completion of required assignment(s)
    * Follow all directions of staff
    * Inability to meet these expectations will result in a restart of in-house time or open-door time-out
    * Open-door time-out
    * Shoes, belts, and jewelry are turned over to staff and pockets emptied of personal items in order for time to start.
    * Stay behind the door frame of the time-out room
    * Quiet for the designated time (5-20 minutes)
    * Student is observed at all times
    * Inability to meet these expectations does not complete designated time and can result in a closed-door time-out if student at anytime becomes unsafe.
    * 3 open-door time-outs in one day may earn the rest of the day in-house time with classroom work to be completed there
    * Closed-door time-out
    * Shoes, belts, and jewelry are removed and pockets emptied of personal items if student is unsafe.
    * Quiet and calm behavior will result in the door being opened to complete the designated quiet time
    * Student under continuous supervision
    * Student may earn an “automatic” time-out for aggression or property destruction but door will not be closed if student remains calm
    * Re-escalation of student behavior will result in the door being closed and a restart of time
    * A closed-door or “automatic” time-out report will be completed and filed. Parents/guardians will be notified verbally and in writing
    * 3 closed-door time-outs in one day may earn the rest of the day in open-door time-out

  37. Kai on March 12, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Very helpful and insightful, thank you!

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