I received a heart warming email recently. I’d like to share it with you.
Neel’s homework assignments used to be one of the most traumatic moments in our day-to-day life until recently. Even though he was supposed to work on small tasks – ranging from making sentences to arithmetic calculations- making him sit and write was extremely challenging. He constantly sought reassurance in the form of a helping hand, got distracted easily, and refused to write. At times, he would have an outburst, would cry incessantly and occasionally bite his mom. There was an element of unpredictability to his behavior. While sometimes he would go on writing short stories running into pages, there was little Archana could do if he was determined not to oblige. She would often lose her balance, which would make Neel even more insecure and angry. The recurring frustration would make us think that perhaps it was beyond him to develop a habit of independent writing. It was painful to see Archana losing her resolve day in day out.
We had our first consultation for RDI programme with you during 7-10 January 2019. At this stage, we are barely two months old into the programme. But if there is one remarkable positive change in our lives, it relates to the way Neel has developed the confidence to do his assignments on his own. He does not need his mom to hold his hand anymore while writing, and he would very often cheerfully verbalize the answers to the mathematical sums. It appears that he has started enjoying what he is doing. Earlier, I was forbidden from sitting nearby when mom and Neel were completing the homework lest he was distracted. After a long gap, when one fine day I watched both of them doing the homework in complete harmony, it was simply unbelievable. To see his sheets neatly done without even a single mistake, which he now completes much faster, is such a refreshing change. The trauma of school assignments (which are increasing as he graduates from class 2 to 3 soon) is giving way to an ambience where the mom-son duo are together scaling new heights and making the homework literally a child’s play. We are truly indebted to you for such a huge transformation in such a short span. We count on your continued support in the times to come.
Watch this cute 8 year old working independently.
Wasn’t that wonderful to watch? Specially since the picture was starkly different just 2 months before.
Many families get distressed as homework time is the most stressful time of the day.
We did not work on ‘homework skills’ or ‘sitting tolerance’ at all.
But we worked on the following:
As I observed the mother and child, I saw the heavy burden of anxiety that the mother herself was carrying. It was painful to watch.
I asked the mother to work on her own anxiety first.
Archana worked on slowing down and connecting with Neel in the present moment.
As her anxiety went down, so did Neel’s.
Archana and Rishikesh got out of ‘teaching’ mode. They became co participants instead.
They picked simple frameworks, where they both had suitable roles.
Neel became well engaged in frameworks. He connected emotionally with his parents. He began to check with them when uncertain about his actions.
Archana and Neel worked on activities such as art and craft activities, cutting flowers and decorating vases, putting books away in bookshelves etc.
Simple activities are most impactful.
You can pick activities that you do around the house, such as- picking up toys, stacking books, putting away vessels, setting the table etc.
Families where both parents spend quality time with their children, tend to do better. This has been my observation over the years.
Rishikesh is a hands on, creative dad. He engages Neel in a variety of intersting activities too.
Out door activities, anticipatory games, hanging out with each other- Rishikesh does it all.
Early in the program we switched from instructive and imperative to declarative communication.
When we use declarative language, we give time and space to the child to add to the conversation. A response is appreciated but not forced or demanded.
Lots of pauses were used in conversations.
We also emphasized facial expressions and gestures.
These are the foundations of communication. They enhance communication. We saw Neel connecting much more. Chaos gave way to understanding of the environment in a variety of situations.
When we use declarative language, a response is not demanded, but is appreciated.
Children don’t feel on the spot to come up with a ‘correct’ answer.
Autism overwhelms us. It becomes the focal point of our lives.
But we can’t take good care of our children unless we take care of ourselves.
‘Me time’ is hugely important.
What do you do to nurture yourself? Do you spend quality time with your spouse. Remember you relationship is important too.
Archana and Rishikesh were urged to fill out a schedule and put in individual ‘me time’ and ‘us time.’
You can fill out a simple schedule too. Ensure that you account for ‘me time’ and ‘us time.’
Your journey with autism a marathon and not a sprint.
I googled the definition of ‘marathon.’
A long-distance running race, strictly one of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km)
A long-lasting or difficult task or activity.
We cannot wish autism away. It’s the way the brain is wired.
It is a long lasting and often difficult journey.
Working with a Consultant helps to become focused and accountable.
Working with your child on suitable objectives. Studying to understand how to remediate autism and submitting videos weekly, will help your tremendously. You will gain clarity.
Traditionally, we’ve focussed on one question and a right answer.
We ask children questions such as, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” Where do you live?”
We show them flash cards and ask them to name items or to point items. (Receptive / Expressive labels)
All these questions have one ‘right’ answer. This is known as Static Intelligence.
It’s good to know these answers.
But the world is ever changing and children need to decide what action they need to take in such situations.
Dynamic intelligence is based on building adaptability, flexibiity, problem solving.
We focussed on all the above with Neel, through very simple activities.
This diagram says it all. Figure out what lies beneath your child’s behavior.
Feel free to contact us if you need help in understanding behaviors.
Archana and Rishikesh worked on each of the pointers above. Every little bit added up.
The benefits compounded.
I’m convinced there are many more benefits lined up for them.
Below is a little sample of a beautiful life ahead of them.
Two months ago, this was not a possiblilty. Today it’s a reality.
You can enjoy these benefits too.
Move away from just behaviors, speech and academics.
Once you establish the important foundations, good behavior and appropriate speech will come to you as a conspicuous benefit.
SAI Connections is the only organization in the world that has a total of 4 RDI Consultants under one roof.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org