I listened with rapt attention, as she spoke.
“We had a meeting with the Supervisor in charge of our son’s home program. We explained what we wanted. She saw meaning in what we were trying to say and implemented our suggestions.”
I couldn’t help smiling.
“We showed her how our son responds beautifully to written instructions and visual cues. She was very impressed!”
“And now I see the therapists follow our recommendations and they all agree how smart Sameer is.” She continued with conviction in her voice.
I felt as proud as a mother hen!
Was this the same Seema I had met 5 years ago?
This young mother (she’s still young) was grief stricken that her son did not share a bond with her. She could not reach out and connect with him.
I remember the struggles, the tears.
I remembered how she went from one therapist to another seeking desperately to improve her child’s speech and behavior.
In his recently published article, Ryan Holiday quoted a powerful maxim from the great Marcus Aurelius.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
How does this apply to families affected by autism?
How did Seema get to be a confident, strong woman standing up for her son?
What would it take for you to get there too?
Seema wasn’t satisfied with the present situation in her son’s life.
She knew it wasn’t working.
It pained her to see Sameer protesting and struggling before each therapy session.
She travelled a great distance to bring him for his therapy session. It would take him 15-20 minutes to calm down.
And in another 20 minutes the session was over!
The question rang loud and clear in her mind. “Is this worth it?”
She realized something was amiss. She knew she had to take action.
She just didn’t know what.
It’s important to stay with the dissatisfied feeling rather than numbing it to not feel it.
Dissatisfaction will spur you to take action.
Then she chanced upon RDI. Relationship Development Intervention.
RDI works on empowering the parent to be the best guide for the child. It gives parents the tools to build a reciprocal relationship with their child.
It’s not a road, oft taken. It involves taking responsibility and relying on yourself.
“There are different paths to your destination. Choose your own
― Lailah Gifty Akita
Seema took the plunge and started to work on the RDI Program through SAI Connections.
By and by she built an emotional bond with Sameer and began to read and understand him better.
Why he behaved the way he did, why he wasn’t yet speaking, how she could use his brilliant mind to enhance learning- all the pennies started to drop.
Instead of taking her son to various therapies, she became her son’s guide.
The RDI Consultant helped her look at situations through an objective lens.
It’s not that all his therapies stopped. But she judiciously decided what her son really needed.
The Consultant- Client- Child relationship is a unique way of working through RDI.
She realized that change had to start with her.
Instead of bombarding him with questions, she would voice an open ended sentence and… Pause.
More often than not, Sameer would connect with her by sharing a smile or filling in a sentence.
There wasn’t any force or coercion on Sameer to answer immediately.
She gave him time.
Under the sweet blanket of acceptance and lack of stress, Sameer blossomed to connect and communicate with her.
Once she changed herself, Sameer also started to change.
Celebrate the small things, because they’re actually the big things.
Sameer has become pretty adaptable.
Taking him on long trips is no longer an issue.
When Seema’s mother recently visited, the family was able to take her to tourist destinations in the US.
Sameer enjoyed those trips too. He was the well behaved, good natured child in the family!
Recently his class teacher sent a note saying,
“I wanted you to know that Sameer has been integrating into the general education 3rd grade in the afternoons for a Read Aloud group. The teacher reads a chapter from a book and all the students sit on the carpet and listen to her.
Sameer has been sitting so quietly and appropriately for the entire duration of the Read Aloud (20 minutes). I am so impressed with his behavior.”
Every day, the family says a prayer of gratitude.
They celebrate each victory of his.
Sometimes things don’t work the way we want them too.
A few months ago, Seema was worried about Sameer’s expressive language.
He’s a beautiful brilliant boy who loves words and pictures.
So we used multi modalities for him to converse.
No pressure. He could write if he wanted, he could type or he could speak.
That led to reduction of stress. And sure enough, the expressive language picked up.
Persistence is the name of the game.
The view from my eyes is different.
It spells T-R-A-N-S-F-O-R-M-A-T-I-O-N
Transformation happened in the mother. This was followed by transformation in the child.
It’s not about fixing the child. It’s about addressing core issues. This involves first building a relationship then constructing communication based on that.
And it’s about taking responsibility.
For two decades and a half, the prescribed treatment for autism has been – special ed, speech therapy and occupation therapy.
Yes, these are all good. But building the relationship between mother and child lies at the core.
If we don’t address that, we’re missing the foundation.
Once a back and forth in this crucial relationship is established, it will positively impact other relationships in the child’s life. Then speech will become meaningful and behaviours will be regulated.
It starts with you- the mother.
You were meant to be empowered.
Find the power within you.
Then decide what works best for your child.
“Look to your right… It is the path back home. If you choose, you can take it. It is safe, easy, and comfortable. You do not have to work out or fight or do anything else you do not want to…
Or you can keep moving forward. I will not lie to you. I cannot predict what may become of you. It will require a lot of training, hard work, study, and danger. But in the very end, you will know strength. I swear it. You might just become someone who will make a difference in the world.”
― Wesley Chu, The Lives of Tao
If you would like to enrol in our parent/child training program or become an RDI Certified Consultant, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note- the names in this article have been modified to protect identity.