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Understanding Dynamic Intelligence

 I’ve often simplified this complex idea by describing it as “street smarts” and “book smarts”; I’m sure we’ve all used those phrases before. Dynamic intelligence is complex, and transcends beyond ASD education and therapy. Autistics and neurodivergent individuals may experience struggles in managing day-to-day challenges in our ever changing complex worlds due to a low level dynamic intelligence. However, non-Autistics can absolutely have impaired dynamic intelligence as well.  (missed opportunities)

Our “intelligences” are dynamic and static. Autistic people often use their static intelligence, and struggle developing dynamic intelligence. 

Static intelligence is used when we: 

  • Expect the same result every time a set of actions is completed
  • Don’t expect any changes to a plan
  • Expect a situation to be managed by following a certain procedure or formula
  • Don’t anticipate any changes to routine
  • Memorization of a formula or rote information

Dynamic intelligence is used when we:

  • Use our emotions to help us make decisions
  • Reflect on prior experiences in the present moment to learn and grow from our experiences
  • Perform okay even when we receive incomplete or unclear instructions 
  • Understand our best responses are determined by ever-changing context
  • Have limited resources or knowledge and need to find “good enough or best fit solutions” 

Anybody can struggle in unpredictable and complex environments, but this is especially true for Autistic people. We often see static pattern forming with static intelligence in tact and dynamic intelligence impaired.  In fact, many of the traditional mainstream “therapy” programs focus on building static intelligence with an emphasis on increasing content acquisition without any regard for the attributes that are needed to long term quality of life and well being.  These programs limit the opportunities to gain dynamic intelligence.  Consequently, limiting what someones future potential can be. 

Strengthening dynamic intelligence is a key component to developing good quality of life. Life itself is unpredictable and ever-changing; understanding this and being able to manage life’s unpredictability is a function many of us take for granted.  In our GROWTH MODEL we give back those opportunities to develop greater dynamic intelligence.  Don’t we all want to live a life with greater ease and understanding?

Dr. Steven Gutstein details differences between static and dynamic thinking.

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