Parenting the RDI way!

We are back in the kitchen again and this time we are making almond milk. In an effort to encourage my boy to become a healthy eater, I have introduced juicing and we are now trying our hand at smoothies. I have found that the best way forward for us is for me to include Nick in the whole process of preparing what is needed. Why Almond Milk? Well, it is a great healthy base for smoothies and the activity provides some good opportunities for me to guide Nick.

I always write up a framework for each planned engagement as it helps me to keep on track with my goal. Obviously I don't stick to the framework word for word as life is not like that, there has to be flexibility and variation, little stumbling blocks and diversions.

My framework goes something like this: Start off with a familiar scenario in which we both have a simple role to play. For example; using a reciprocal pattern we spoon ingredients into a container. Then we move onto a contingency pattern where my role is to operate the tap and Nick's role is to collect the water and then pour it into the blender. From there we need to separate the pulp from the milk and we need to help each other out by pouring, stirring and then squeezing. Last but not least, we need to pour the milk into bottles.

The first two sections of our planned engagement are little challenges for Nick but they are ones that I know he will feel comfortable with. The separating of pulp from milk is going to be a larger challenge due to Nick's sensory issues and then the final section is going to be Nick's big challenge. The first three sections will be taking Nick to his *edge* and the final section will be his *plus one*.

As part of my framework I am mindful about pausing and giving Nick time to process any information, think about his role and then to respond. I also know that I want to keep my comments declarative with a bit of non verbal communication thrown in! I realise that I may need to provide quite a bit of scaffolding as we get into section four of our engagement.

Making almond milk ~ one

To be honest I don't really have a lot to say about this clip as we are working together really well. On occasion I pause for effect and Nick references me for information. It is a nice co-regulatory pattern that Nick now finds effortless.

Making almond milk ~ two

This part of our activity is a little bit harder for Nick. He really battles with his motor planning and it has taken time and plenty of guidance from me in order for him to learn how to hold a cup under the tap to collect the water. I am SO delighted when I observe Nick (time code 0:11) planning how to hold the cup as he moves it across the bench and then very carefully tips the water into the blender. This is great progress and I spotlight that successful moment by making the comment, "nice one, you did that really easily".

Making almond milk ~ three

As I prepare for the straining of the pulp, I talk about what I am doing. Nick is listening intently and he is quick to remove the jug off the blender and then pour the mixture. He then backs off a little bit as he is not very keen to touch that horrid looking mulch! I am not too concerned if he doesn't participate as I feel that it is important for him to make the choice to join me. It's wonderful to note that when I do pause with the spoon, Nick does take it from me and tries to stir. I am also thrilled that Nick uses his own initiative to help me pull up the sides of the cheesecloth. Check out time zone 0:57 ~ Nick removes the sieve from the top of the jug. I am not sure what his thinking is behind this movement, however, his action was just perfect! :)  I ensure that I spotlight the moment! Time code 1:18 also stands out for me. I pull the jug closer to me and Nick *naturally* adjusts his body to also come in closer! Nick takes on his role of squeezing the bag quite easily and I LOVE how his face lights up and he smiles, obviously enjoying the experience. So far so good!

Making almond milk ~ four

Now we come to the big challenge, Nick's *plus one*.

I am all prepared! I have all the goodies that we need and I know exactly what I am going to do! I talk about the funnel and make a big show of putting the funnel into the bottle. Nick takes on his role although accidentally spills quite a bit of milk. What happens next is actually quite HUGE ~ Nick realises what has happened so he picks up a cloth and wipes up the milk!! (Just for interest sake, using a cloth to wipe up a mess was a planned activity from months and months back ~ I am loving how he now does this automatically!).

Okay, here we have it.... we are now stepping up to the big challenge (time code 1:45). With a little bit of uncertainly from Nick and some guiding from me, we finally set up our next bottle..... then the wheels fall off! Although Nick knows that he needs to pour the milk into the bottle he has forgotten the funnel. From that moment our activity gets a little bit out of hand ~ it is not moving along the way I planned.

However, all is not lost. I quickly assess the situation, adjust my expectations and mentally plan how I am going to scaffold the situation for Nick in order to help him. I stop what we are doing and say, "let's think about this". This little pause ensures that Nick is connected with me and focused on what I do next (note: if he hadn't reconnected so quickly, I would have paused for longer!). As always, after we have finished I recap on our activity.

Each time I reflect on our video footage I am always overwhelmed by what I see in front of me. This boy of mine has come so far and he continuously astounds me with his progress. It goes without saying that we have a fabulous team of people behind us and Nick's growth is also attributable to their input . However, my RDI blog posts are all about my relationship with my son, how I am learning to guide him, how his development is moving forward and how he is beginning to engage with the world around him.

It is mind blowing that we as a family can now be spontaneous and go out for lunch at an unknown restaurant, or have a morning like we did yesterday.... we decided to go for a walk at our local Botanical Gardens, however, as we were walking and chatting, it started to rain and we had to make a mad dash for the car. Quick change of plan lead us to visiting a very busy and noisy coffee shop (note: I do have the iPad on hand for occasions like this just in case the sensory overload is too much). On the way home, we decided to pop into the store to pick up some ingredients for supper. No worries, Nick came with us and he took on the role of pushing the trolley and in fact, we also had a good laugh.

So, we are standing in the queue at our local Woolies and Nick has got the giggles! Next minute he is trying to say "five" and he is holding up five fingers! He then points to the counter indicator to tell me what number teller is free! Number five! He then did the same for three!! Gorgeous boy. 

Nick knows that he can look to me for guidance and reassurance.  He trusts me and is very aware that I am not going to push him too far past his comfort zone. I take him to his edge of competence and then a tiny bit more. The video clips show that he is feeling comfortable with what we are doing. For sure, there a few subtle signs of when he is feeling a little bit challenged BUT we ride through it because he wants to keep going. There is no pressure on him to perform and as his feelings of competence increase so does his desire to keep trying even when the challenge is a bit overwhelming. We don't have meltdowns or hissy fits in our house, although I do admit to throwing my toys on occasion (but that is just me!).

The activities that we do together are not the reason behind our progress, they are just the props! The progress is due to our growing relationship, my guidance and Nick's increasing confidence, flexibility and personal competence.

Our journey is about two people and how we relate to each other and also learn from each other. I am parenting the RDI way and it is working.


  1. you are just an amazing mother - I love your patience - all the scaffolding you provide and the beautiful way your son responds

    1. Thank you, Floortime Lite Mama. Nick has really flourished using the RDI approach, as have I! :-)

  2. Reading this really makes me wish that there had been agreement to use video in this house! as I find it really hard to remember all the details of encounters later! but I always find your description of RDI parenting inspiring and it encourages me to keep going xx

    1. @Looking for Blue Sky ~ Videoing is SO helpful and Nick also enjoys watching them. Good luck in finding ways to get around the use of video in your house!! xx

  3. I LOVE reading these stories of your Nick's progress. Wonderful.
    And you put me to shame. We so need to do some juicing here, not enough fibre and vitamins in our diet!

    xx Jazzy

    1. Thanks, Jazzygal. I am so thrilled that you keep reading them. Juicing is so good and well worth trying out. I am now becoming addicted to smoothies, although at this stage Nick is refusing to try them!! xx

  4. Such detail!! Love it a glimpse ...into your thinking and helping NIck make his own discoveries!! AND it brings such a smile to my face when you talk about what you can do as a family now....This next year will be even more exciting!!!!!!!!


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