This blog post was originally published here.
90% of parents (if not more) share this common concern.
“I know my child has good potential. But I don’t know how to tap into it.”
This need not be at the time of diagnosis. It can be any point of development and any age.
Your child reach a plateau or even if s/he is doing well and you may want to know how to challenge them further.
This is what happened with Viji and Vishal.
I have known them for 12 years, 6 of which have been spent on the RDI Program.
In the initial years, Vishal had acquired all his language skills quickly. He plateaued after a couple of years and had severe aggressive bouts.
We couldn’t ascertain what triggered him.
We had the best behavior plans in place, but to no avail.
Viji eventually decided to go through Parent Training via the RDI Program.
She quickly became an empowered guide for Vishal.
Vishal calmed down and was able to regulate in diverse situations.
He went on to receive a cookery diploma too.
Viji wanted my input on how to challenge Vishal further. He has achieved a lot. What could be the next course of action?
The following clips will show you what we worked on and achieved.
Decided to start with regulation. I wanted to ensure that Vishal was calm and connected with me, his guide.
Once Vishal was regulated, he chose to cook a potato curry.
Vishal did everything independently. It was an experience he felt competent with.
Next, I wanted to encode that competence for him.
This was important for him to feel good about his own capabilities.
It is also a technique to create short term memory links.
Note: I used the cooking experience to facilitate reading, assembling sentences.
It wasn’t an abstract concept, but something he had just engaged with prior to this exercise.
This exercise covered thinking about the experience, paying attention as I read the experience and assembling sentences.
It’s a different way of teaching literacy skills too.
We added another aspect to it via typing.
Viji has been helping Vishal with his typing.
For a youngster who wouldn’t look at the screen to moving towards typing independently, is a big improvement.
The idea is to empower individuals in any way that they learn and to give them communicative options.
While Vishal expresses through words and sentences (English and Tamil), we wanted to offer another avenue to him.
That must have given his brain a workout!
I watched carefully for any behavior that could indicate that Vishal was nearing his edge.
I also wanted to build his resilience with activities other than cooking.
So we tried singing, drumming and imaginative play with blocks.
Don’t miss Vishal’s co ordination with drumming and singing in this clip.
The free flow block building helped us to stay in ‘grey’ areas and to explore.
There was no right or wrong or a certain way of doing things.
Here is what Viji had to say about the session.
We( Srinivas n I) were looking forward to Vishal’s session with Kamini Ma’am knowing that he will be challenged to the best of his capacity. It was a pleasure to watch Vishal engaging in a framework with Ma’am doing different activities. He was fully engaged, connected n motivated. The way he moved from activity to activity across different areas was amazing. Though he does long Frameworks with me( of over an hour), it’s usually in the kitchen. But to see him attempt varied activities while co-regulating, coordinating, self regulating, encoding, typing, forming sentences( so happy to see that, so hopeful), taking decisions, accepting challenging was so wonderful. He has an established GPR with me but to see him so fully connected n engage in a back n forth relationship, sharing emotions with another person was huge to me as his mom. He was engaging with Ma’am after a long time. To see him do that in an unfamiliar environment without getting distracted or getting anxious when challenged vindicated my belief in my son’s capabilities and my faith in the RDI Program which has brought about this tremendous change in Vishal. He has indeed come a long way.
– Viji Srinivas
When you hit a plateau or a road block, know that something better awaits you on the other side.
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).