This blog post was written by RDI consultant Jennifer Collier
We are as weird and quirky around here as the next family. My husband is endlessly spouting useless sports or historical trivia, my children both read years above their current school grade, and me- well, suffice it to say I’m equally unique. However, despite our quirks and my penchant for the static and routine, all four of us are considered neurotypical. (Who would have thought it?) This might lead you to believe that my work as an RDI Consultant is therefore limited to just that, work. However, that would certainly be a faulty conclusion. You see, our family benefits greatly from RDI, and I would argue, so can any other “NT family”. I am entirely convinced that all children (and their parents) can benefit from the principles we use in RDI. Slowing down, using declarative speech, and introducing productive uncertainty are useful parenting tools regardless of a diagnosis or lack thereof. I’m sure I’m getting some “amen’s” from parents who started RDI with their children on the spectrum and later noticed growth in their NT children also. Let me give you a couple of examples from our house.
My 9 year old son is a lot of things, but mindful is not one of them. Now I do realize that elementary-aged boys are not especially known for their mindfulness, but sometimes it seems that my son’s oblivion borders on the ridiculous. (He gets this from his dad, of course, certainly not from me.) I try to stifle my frustration, however, when he can’t see what is right in front of him and instead flip my RDI switch. I will slow down my rate of speech, make sure my tone is low and calm (not high and frustrated), and use declaratives and referencing to slow him down and help him find what he is looking for.
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Also, I notice that when my family is on the go too much and life has taken on a frantic pace, that my children are more disregulated. They begin to have behavior issues and schoolwork turns sloppier and less accurate. When I stop to breathe, make sure that I am slowing down, and give us all one big “time in”; everyone settles down and life becomes manageable again. Like many RDI parents, integrating RDI principles into an RDI lifestyle in our home is still a work in progress, and most days I fail more than I succeed. But in spite of our “neurotypical-ness”, we have all grown because of RDI.
So family with children both on the spectrum and off, take heart! There’s no reason for your NT children to be left out of your family RDI program. As you make changes in your home and parenting, ALL of your children are benefiting. And fellow NT-only parents, don’t be afraid to break out some RDI on your kids; it won’t hurt them a bit. Who knows, they might even learn a little from it!
Jennifer Collier is an RDI certified consultant in Northeastern Arkansas. She is the founding director of Your Family First Consulting, Inc, a nonprofit providing RDI services to families in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri.