This post was originally posted on the Saiconnection’s blog page. You can read the original here.
I watch with amazement as he assembles ingredients to steam white dhokla. (snack made by steaming fermented rice batter)
The challenge is for him to look at a picture and try to figure how to cook it. His mother guides him to add an ingredient he’s never used before. (Eno Fruit Salt) He takes his time to study the situation. His keen focus astounds me.
He wants to be successful at making a dish that he isn’t accustomed to making. He doesn’t fight or flee from the situation. Under the able guidance of his mother, he stays calm and collected
Jassi showed Paawan a picture of white dhokla and asked him to make it. He’s steamed other variations of dhokla. But he’s never made the white kind before. Given the challenge and the time to think through, Paawan pulled out the correct vessel, steamed the dhokla and even tempered it.
By the way, the picture above is the one of the dhokla Paawan made.
How did this happen?
I’ve known Paawan and Jassi since 10 years. I have seen him through his hyperactive, aggressive phase. I wrote meticulous behavior plans for hand flapping reduction. Unfortunately, they didn’t help. Something else worked. His mother Jassi enrolled in our parent training program. Over a period of time we focused on:
1. Slow Down to Speed Up
Take away the extras. The extra words, the bombardment, the questioning. Give time to your child to figure things out for themselves. Slow down. You have time. Focus on your child’s actions and not words. In time, the words will follow.
Once you slow down, you will feel better yourself. Slowing down will lead to building a nice emotional bond with your child too. Once your child starts understanding his role in an interaction, you’ll automatically be able to pick up speed. You’ll also end up with a willing apprentice by your side. You will be in a better place too.
2. Regulate. Regulate. Regulate
Working on regulation during the day involves engaging your child in simple household or daily activities. Let’s take the example of wiping furniture.
Once your child has learned the basic pattern of wiping, you can add little variations. These are known as just noticeable differences.
Suppose you’re cleaning a table. Both of you can wipe the table in one direction. Then you can switch to the opposite direction. You could then switch to circular movements. Your child should notice the difference but not get overwhelmed. Your child will perceive what you’re doing as ‘safe’ and will then trust you to add more uncertainty.
In each way of wiping, you will emphasize the similarity of wiping and not spotlight the changes.
Dr Steven Gutstein emphasizes, “Regulation builds trust!!! It’s hard to see establishing regulation as intervention, yet it is the most crucial intervention of all.”
Regulation means you are showing your child how they can perceive the reassuring constancy of patterns amidst ongoing minor changes and alterations. Your child will feel safe with changes happening around her. She’ll be able to take them in her stride.
3. Challenge Your Child
Every human being enjoys being challenged. Over coming challenges makes us feel competent. We may not succeed at all times, but it enhances intrinsic motivation. We know we have the courage to face difficult situations.
Why should it be different for people on the Autism Spectrum?
This is exactly what Jassi did with Paawan. She slowed down. Then she worked on regulation. This resulted in Paawan being able to take challenges. Once he could take challenges, we could push him to achieve more.
He wanted to engage in a variety of complex frameworks. He became a willing apprentice.
In all the years I have spent developing the #RDI Model there is one thing that has stood out to me: parents are looking for a #relationshipwith their child, a connection, and they don’t even know that it is possible with a child with #autism. They are never given any hope! RDI is not a behavior therapy and it is not a checklist of skills that have to be learned. RDI is an intervention of gradually re-building the foundations of the Guiding Relationship that have been affected by #ASD. We do this, not by “getting” a child to do something but by teaching parents how to create customized experiences (unique for your child) over a period of years that focus on activating growth seeking, building intrinsic motivation and giving the child the mental & emotional abilities that we all count on to survive this dynamic world. #RedefiningAutismTreatments – Dr Steven Gutstein
I’d like you to consider some of the outcomes of your child being a willing apprentice.
Understanding of situations
Willing to take challenges
Isn’t that what you want for your child?
Kamini Lakhani is a, RDI® program consultant and the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center). She has over 19 years of experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and currently serves as the director of our RDI Professional Training Center in Mumbai. She is the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center).