You can do RDI® anywhere…and you can mold it around your own lifestyle and family framework through planned and everyday activities.
You can use your imagination as the parent guide and erase any thoughts or burdens you may have perceived as limitations. There are countless activities you can plan that help reach the goals and dreams that you have for your child’s mental growth and development.
Promote Growth Through Activities
The RDI® Model allows for growth to occur over time as your child gains the skills that are needed to navigate life’s challenges on their own.
Activities are an excellent way to help guide your child towards growth-seeking, but in a manner where you control the brake pedal—your child isn’t pushed to take in so much information that they become frustrated and overwhelmed and may no longer want to participate.
Rather the opposite, your child grows to love and partake in activities and will pursue more. You are the model, the activity participant that encourages your child through example and guided life experiences which develop competence and growth-seeking in your autistic child!
Which Activities Support the RDI® Model?
Activities that you plan to participate in with your autistic child are most effective when they are initially formed around your child’s favorite things in life and are tailored to their unique needs and limitations. Does your child like to draw, color, point out or talk about pictures, or take walks?
Activities are done in tandem with your child, starting at a foundational level and working upwards towards building skills that help your child want to learn more and seek growth. Your child will eventually initiate or want to do the activity independently or will enjoy keeping up with you.
Here are a couple of examples of activities you may do with your child:
Walking is a great way to get your child outdoors, in a different setting, as well as gain healthy exercise, and participate in reciprocal game-playing.
Create an album or collage with images of people walking in various settings, such as in a shopping mall, a park, or walking down a neighborhood street. Include pictures of weather-appropriate clothing and boots/shoes, scarves, etc. Include photographs of where you will walk to in your neighborhood, such as a mailbox, a corner, or a specific house.
As you introduce the walking activity, ask your child to tell you (or point to a photograph of) where they want to go, then complete the walk. As you continue this activity, your child will remember where they previously walked to and may take the initiative.
“I walked to the mailbox a few days ago, today I want to walk to the red house. I’ll show mom the picture!” Your child is now interacting with the activity, increasing motivation, strengthening relationship skills, and enhancing their communication skills.
Ask your child to point to a picture of, or tell you, the clothing and shoes that they need to wear to go out on the walk. Is it raining today? Is it snowing? Will you need a coat, boots, and perhaps gloves?
Infuse some fun into your walk. Are you walking fast or slow today? Ask your child to do what you do when you walk fast or slow. Are you walking 10 steps then stopping? Count to 10 and stop.
Are you going to walk backward a few steps? Walk backward 3-5 steps. If your child has difficulty walking backward, start with 1 step. This is the fun part. Your child may enjoy imitating you, and if so, this can develop into increased initiation, “Do what I do mom/dad!”
Cooking is an everyday activity that can help your child build creativity and the desire to learn, as well as develop increased involvement and responsibility.
If cooking on a hot stove is not age or otherwise appropriate for your child, meal preparation that does not involve cooking is a great option. Your child may love to prepare a peanut butter sandwich for lunch or dinner. Or, you can extend kitchen activities out to setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or surface cleaning.
Create an album or collage, or use cooking books, with images of food, utensils, and pots and pans. Create recipes with pictures and easy to follow instructions (that you child can follow along with as you, or they, read out loud).
As you introduce cooking to your child, teach them that cleanliness is an important part of cooking—and why. Show them how to wipe the table or countertop. Cleaning can be fun. You may show your child how to wipe in one direction, then switch directions tomorrow. Make it a game, “Follow what I do!” and do not be surprised when your child wants you to follow what they do!
Cooking activities can also include gathering ingredients, dishes, cooking utensils, or pots and pans.
Related: RDI At Home: Making Cookies
You may measure ingredients, and then ask your child to add them to the recipe. Your child can also help with stirring, and again, make it fun. What color do you want your pancakes to be today? Ask your child to pick out the food coloring.
Eventually, you may ask your child, “What are we going to make today?” This helps build motivation and memory!
Walking and cooking are fun activities that foundationally support the RDI® model in numerous ways, such as, experience sharing, bolstering and developing growth-seeking, as well as building and strengthening motivation, memory, and relationship.
Lasting, meaningful, and lifelong change begins at home with you, the parent guide, and amongst each family’s unique culture and relationships. Interactions that support growth and development are rooted in day to day interactions, as well as planned and everyday activities, which build memories of competence, fulfillment, and increase motivation for your child to engage.
Sharing experiences with other parent guides is a great way to learn about activities that can help with your autistic child’s development. We help you make that connection, as well as give you access to supportive, educational, and informational resources through our RDIconnect® Learning Community Learn more the online learning community here.