You can support your child’s current and future quality of life and independence through everyday life activities.
As parents, most of us say we are comfortable with our abilities to participate in and enjoy life events, and we claim successes such as jobs or careers, seeking and obtaining life goals, and the building of relationships that enrich our lives.
Today, you can also claim the same hope in life for your child who is on the spectrum as they develop dynamic intelligence and subsequently obtain independence that leads to quality of life into adulthood. It starts with the guiding relationship between you and your child.
Dynamic Intelligence – Foundation for Quality of Life
Dynamic intelligence is central to independence and quality of life, and RDI®, Relationship Development Intervention, builds on this perspective. This is your key to hope.
Look at the complex world that you and your child live in. There is much to cope with. Challenges and change are a constant in life, but the prospect is promising.
The development of dynamic intelligence gives your child the ability to think flexibly and understand different perspectives in life, to cope with change, and to integrate information from multiple sources.
Dynamic growth is a key function of dynamic intelligence. With this, your child’s mental resources are improved. Your child constructs and continuously builds a library of personal knowledge that they can retrieve from as needed. Your child not only develops, but he or she also becomes growth-seeking.
Dynamic Intelligence – Independence and Adulting
Adulting is how we meet the everyday demands of independent and adult living, such as paying bills, running errands, maintaining our living areas, and holding down a job. The successful maneuvering of each of these commonplace adulting areas rests upon our dynamic intelligence.
As a parent of an autistic child, you may wonder if your child can harness the knowledge and life skills necessary for adulting. The answer to this is a resounding yes.
Here are the six areas of dynamic intelligence universal to every person on the autism spectrum. Each help to usher in quality of life and make independence possible:
- Emotional Referencing – The ability to ‘read’ and learn from the emotional experiences of others.
- Social Coordination – The ability to observe others and self-regulate behavior in order to participate in social relationships.
- Declarative Language – The ability to use language and non-verbal language for expression, interaction, and to share feelings and ideas with others.
- Flexible Thinking – The ability to adapt when life’s circumstances change.
- Relational Information Processing – The ability to think situations through, to obtain solutions, when there are no “right or wrong” answers.
- Foresight and Hindsight – The ability to reflect on past experiences and use them as a tool to anticipate potential future scenarios.
(Learn more about the Six Areas of Dynamic Intelligence and download our infographic here.)
You are the Guide to Quality of Life and Adult Independence
Through your guiding relationship, you can support your child’s current and future quality of life and independence through everyday life activities.
Working and Jobs
When we describe adult life, we typically include a job or work that we can grow with and earn a living by. A job requires more than working skills. Some job skills are considered static (repetitive work that achieves the same results), and some require the ability to obtain solutions when there is no static “right or wrong” answer (Relational Information Processing), but all six of the common areas of dynamic intelligence play into a person’s ability to hold down a job.
Your autistic child may have a fantastic memory and may be interested in one or more subjects, and this often leads to an interest in, or the seeking of, a particular role or profession in life that requires advanced education. Is it possible for your child to obtain advanced education? Yes!
Imagine guiding your child through their favorite role-playing (which might be connected to the job of their choice as an adult). As you make this a playful time with your child, you include one or several of the six areas of dynamic intelligence. For example, Relational Information Processing. Create a job-related challenge that has no right or wrong answer. Use Declarative Language, including gestures, to share your feelings and ideas.
Give your child time to take on the challenge and communicate their own answer to the problem. You have helped to encourage growth in your child through this exercise by supporting something they are passionate about (i.e., future work or job), you have shown patience, and you allowed your child to come up with their own solution, which they will file into their memory banks and retrieve when needed (Foresight and Hindsight).
When parents are asked what they want most for their autistic child, they commonly reply that they want their child to have the ability to live independently. The child can develop into an adult that may live completely independently, or in a home with some support. It is more than possible!
Draw your child into everyday activities at home, such as cleaning and light maintenance. Use Declarative Language as you do so. This helps your child to understand what you are thinking and associate it with learned responsibilities.
Imagine a simple activity like going around the house and shutting off the lights. As you do so, you shake your head (gesture) and say, “I must turn off these lights to save money. Electric is expensive, and I have bills to pay.” Invite your child to save money by making “save money time” a fun daily exercise. You can add a coin to a jar every time your child turns off unnecessary lighting, which shows them how to save money (and what that results in – money to pay for other things in life).
With this exercise, you help your child engage in most of the six areas of dynamic intelligence (and you can easily change the exercise up and include all), and you have given your child responsibility (save money, learn how to maintain a living area), all of which promote life skills that are necessary for independence.
More than Hope
The list of life possibilities for your autistic child is much longer than what we included in this blog, of course.
Hope is critical to your success in the guided relationship with your child. The opposite of hope is despair, desperation, and this can lead to pessimism. We want you to have hope, and to be strengthened in the knowledge that quality of life and independence for your child is possible.
It is important to understand the obstacles you can face so that you can then understand how to overcome them. You can learn more about the guiding relationship and the RDI® Model by joining the RDI® online learning community here!