This blog post was originally posted on the brightsideoflife.com. It was also posted on the RDIconnect blog page in May 2015.
Mindful parenting sounds so easy, however, unless you are an absolute natural, it is hard work and takes a long time to master. Speaking from personal experience of course! There are days when I talk too much, rush too much or lose focus. It is all such a learning curve, although thanks to RDI my personal growth over the last few years has been great (just ask my husband!!).
I am happy with the way this planned engagement panned out. I was very mindful of pacing, spotlighting, pausing, using declarative language with a wee bit of imperative language. I gave Nick opportunities to think for himself and make his own decisions. I also used body language and facial expressions to communicate. This engagement was a natural learning opportunity for Nick. It was one that ensured he would encode the experience and hopefully recall when needed in the future.
Related: What’s So Special About Parent MindGuides?
Going Slow Works for Us!
The following video clip is from a recent planned engagement. I am sharing the clip in its entirety, however, don’t panic, it is only four minutes of footage!
Setting the Scene
Nick has shown an interest in operating the aircon remote control, although his pushing of buttons has been a bit problematic, especially when I find the aircon pumping out hot air throughout his bedroom and the timer is jammed. Not a good plan in the middle of a hot summer night!
I thought it best to guide him on how to operate the remote. When writing up my plan, I decided that I was going to model how to use the remote and make declarative comments about what I was doing. First I would take a turn and then Nick could take a turn. I planned to go really slow and ensure that Nick could hear and see what was going on. I wanted to spotlight when the aircon was working and that sometimes we have to wait for some time before the aircon kicks in. To make this engagement more meaningful, I chose to use the aircon in Nick’s bedroom.
This was a new activity for Nick so he was feeling a little anxious. He signed for “finished” on a number of occasions, although I chose to not make any mention of his signing. I guess I could have spotlighted his anxiety and given him some reassurance, however, I knew that I wasn’t going to be taking him beyond *edge plus one*, therefore I just let it roll.
Taking it slow worked a treat. Nick got to understand that only one button needed to be pushed and that generally it only needed pushing once. It was all a matter of being patient and waiting to see if the aircon kicked in and started pumping cold air. I love that he was engaged and followed my lead, yet also understood his role. He referenced me for information and was able to recognise and react to my body language, gaze and gestures.
A little Bit of Spotlighting
Related: The Concept of Spotlighting
0:21 I pause and wait. I want Nick to *feel* the time that it takes for the aircon to start pumping out cold air. I make sure to spotlight when the cold air starts coming out.
0:54 I make a little declarative comment…. “It is a bit hot in here”. Nick immediately responds and turns on the aircon using the correct button. Woohoo, really thrilled with the speed of his processing.
1:34 I reminded Nick that he pushed lots of buttons on the remote the previous evening, however, he only needs to push ONE button. Hopefully he encodes this memory!
2:49 I casually mention to Nick, “I wonder if you can remember how to turn it on?” Nick quickly turns on the aircon. I then pause and say, “let’s just wait and see if it comes on”. Again, I want Nick to *feel* the amount of time we have to wait and also *hear* when the aircon starts operating. I am spotlighting this time code because it shows me slowing us both down.
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).