In this guest blog post (written by veteran RDI® parent Di Maitland) a mom gives a practical example of using co-regulation while going for a walk. You can read the original version of this blog post here.
Nick doesn’t get enough exercise, so whenever possible I take him down to the beachfront, where we can stroll along the promenade and then go for a milkshake/cappuccino.
Of late, when out walking, Nick tends to wander off from me and at times he does go too far. Mind you, he always looks back to check out where I am and he will stop and wait for me if asked (I make the sign for ‘stop’).
Today I decided to work on co-regulation and I wrote up a RDI framework for walking together.
My wish is for Nick to adjust his walking pace to mine, referencing my body language and facial expressions for change of pace. He is always quick to rush, therefore I want him to ‘feel’ the changes in speed and observe how we are walking together. I also want to add in some variety to our walking pattern for the purpose of Edge+1.
Walking at the beachfront.
I walk slowly
Nick walks alongside me
I pick up the pace
Nick picks up my pace
We walk from the car to the nearest pier and then back again.
Give a brief explanation of our activity. Chanting. Pause the action. Use non-verbal language.
As soon as we left the car, Nick started walking alongside me. Our footsteps were not in sync, although we were certainly walking at the same pace. I stopped walking. Nick stopped walking. I started walking, Nick started walking. This carried on until we reached the end of the pier. I tried to introduce a faster pace, however, Nick was quite adamant that he wasn’t going to speed up. I sensed that it could be more than his Edge+1 so I respected his decision. His mood changed for the better as we left the pier, so again I attempted to quicken my pace. He adjusted his speed to match mine, although only for a short spurt. I really didn’t want to push it, therefore only did two more attempts. The fabulous thing about our engagement is that he was very aware of matching his actions to mine.
Keep practicing… at home, at the shopping mall, the beachfront…. wherever we are! Continue to throw in little variations to the pattern.
Di and her family work with RDI® Consultant, Kathy Darrow. Kathy has over 16 years experience in the field of Autism, which includes 11 years in RDI®, first as a parent then the past 7 years as a Consultant. Kathy’s passion to help families with children on the spectrum started when her own two children were both diagnosed before three years old. RDI® was not only was miraculous with her children on the spectrum, but as a family affair as parents and siblings. Being handed the poor prognosis those years ago, she never gave up searching for what their boys needed. As she turned to RDI® on a professional level it has been exciting to watch as children and young adults involved in the RDI® program become increasingly competent and resilient in their social world. Kathy works with local families in New Jersey, both at home, school and homeschool, as well as long distance families (multiple U.S. states and oversees). If you are interesting in hearing her speak about RDI® and part of her own journey, please click here for her presentation at Autism One .Connect with Kathy