This guest blog was written by RDI consultant Chyntia Poedjokerto
RDI is a special needs intervention that equips parents to be more mindful in helping their special needs children overcome their challenges. We train parents to be competent and help parents to have a normal life that often seems impossible when you have children with special needs.
In RDI intervention (unless you are a single parent), both parents are required to work together for their child and to understand their child’s needs, condition, and the challenges behind it. We believe that without understanding the child’s difficulties it is difficult to help the child because autism effects each child uniquely.
Why both parents?
As an RDI consultant in Asia, specifically Indonesia, I see a lot of dads struggling in the beginning of the RDI program because of the cultural beliefs that influence family life and interpersonal relationship. Even though things have changed so much in the younger generation, in many traditional Asian families the father’s role is primarily to provide material support for the family, while the mother’s role is primarily to take care of the children. The father does not usually start a conversation with his children. He tends to be distant. As a result, dad has difficulties learning how to play, have casual conversation and build close relationships with his child; this becomes even more challenging when they have a child with special conditions.
The article below from Psychology Today confirms that sad has important role, more than just for money making:
According to the research in “Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-Being”:
“Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.
The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers spend a higher percentage of their one-to-one interactions with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior.
Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father’s involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.”
Resource from : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-long-reach-childhood/201106/the-importance-fathers
Dad is Part of the Team
When one mom and dad came into my clinic looking for an alternative intervention, often after several failed therapies, they were at first a bit reluctant with my explanation that the therapist will be them (both of parents). Mom felt unable to guide her own child which made her feel vulnerable and dad, after learning that he would be included, felt reluctant and overwhelmed.
But after explaining to them how an RDI consultant works, that the RDI consultant will go with them slowly thru each step to help them in understanding their child and gradually enable them to help and guide their son, gave them hope!
They went through several article and videos regarding RDI success stories and finally agreed, ready to make commitment. Both understood their role and they knew that they both needed to be in sync in their parenting to promote healthy development of their child and the whole family unit.
RDI in Progress
In the beginning of RDI, dad felt very frustrated and was close to giving up because he did not have a single idea how to interact with his child. But after a few months, he began to see the light. He started getting on track and becoming more confident. With dad’s effort and willingness to step in, I could see mom also getting excited about doing RDI; she feels physically and emotionally supported and half of her burden was lifted by the way RDI works.
The nurturing style of dad is different than the mom, which makes the variation of both work very well. After a while, both parents begins to get comfortable with the activity, it becomes more natural and enjoyable for both child and parent.
The parents eventually began to show less anxiety and learn to be mindful. Slowing down the activity when the child needs more time to process the information. Parents are always continuously surprised to see their child’s true abilities when they change their approach to the RDI approach: Their child is able to recognize and solve problems in a calm manner, the child is able to experience the beauty of working together, and the child has more and more interest in social engagement with others.
Now, their marriage relationship has also improved. Mom and dad can work hand in hand as a team, both are confident. Dad is able to help when Mom feels fatigued and overwhelmed and the other way around. The whole family environment changes when RDI becomes their new family life style. Siblings feel more secure and happy as their parents learn to manage and divide their time and attention equally among each child; as a result of the autistic child learning to live a more independent lifestyle.
There is nothing more rewarding than when parents come to see me and tell me how much their family environment has changed and how much progress their child has made, thanks to RDI.
Chyntia Poedjokerto B.Sc, Sp.Ed is a counselor and parents coach at Wellness Indonesia Counseling and Coaching Centre, specializing in providing guidance and assistance for parents whose children and teens are struggling in academics, behavior, and social skills. She has worked with numerous numbers of students with different learning needs for years in inclusive and special needs setting. Having a professional degree in Special Education and International certification in Relationship Development Intervention, she passionately equips the parents and advocates for the individual needs of special needs children, enabling them to achieve their maximum potential.