The following blog series is part 2 of 3 written by certified consultant, Maisie Soetantyo. We hope you enjoy this series leading up to Father’s Day.
Most Dads enjoy playing tag, being the tickle monster, throwing ball, building legos or watching TV with their kids after a long day at work. They do like a bit of chaos to release some energy after a stressful day of making work related decisions. While all of this excitement is not always preferred by Moms, it is indeed an excellent opportunity for Dads to connect with their children at many different levels; emotionally, socially and physically. Fun and games are one of the best ways that Dads can be a therapeutic coach to their child.
In our clinic we often ask fathers to video tape what they do after work with their children, and it can be any activity or opportunities. By doing so we can slowly show fathers how to slow down and insert certain objectives to practice. We also encourage Dads to be themselves and include their child in what they enjoy doing during their leisure time. We advice Moms to let their spouse figure out what works for him instead of criticizing his parenting ways. It’s okay for Dads to implement an objective in a slightly different way; in fact, for an individual with Autism who tends to be inflexible, he/she needs to learn in a variety of ways.
Let’s admit it, men and women think differently, especially around problem solving skills. According to Heitler (2012), a Clinical Psychologist who has written many articles on the differences in men’s and women’s thinking and communication style, men love to generate solutions while women tend to explore relevant concerns. Men and women have different strengths and special needs children benefit greatly from sharing experiences with both parents!
Fathers could include their children in any ‘Honey Do List’ that needs to be done on weekends. Moms might be able to support Dads by choosing the simplest step to begin with, keeping in mind that both father and child need to feel successful in order to try more novel activities. For example, one of the fathers we worked with started taking his ASD son along while running errands he usually completed alone on weekends. Instead of taking his son out to run 3 errands in a row, he started with one stop followed by a trip to Chuck’s Donuts to create a positive memory. Gradually it would not matter where they went on weekends, because the time they spent together had become the most important and meaningful part.
Learning opportunities are embedded in small moments, and the more Dads spend time with their special needs child, the more they are able to find these opportunities. Take a look at these two short clips of a dad guiding his son to think of a solution in two simple activities. Notice that this dad did not instruct his son on how to exactly fix the problem for him, and by doing this he was working on developing his son’s dynamic appraisal, resilience and communication skills.
Heitler, S. (2012, February). How gender differences make decision-making difficulties. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com
About the Author
Maisie Soetantyo has been providing RDI supervision and training for families in California and South East Asia. She firmly believes that through daily mindful engagements parents can make a difference in their special needs children’s long term outcome. Maisie and her husband, Pete Dunlavey, are both seasoned certified RDI consultants who run ‘Destination 4 Day RDI Parent Trainings’ all over the world. For additional questions or comments, contact Maisie at: email@example.com or www.catchclinic.com