Isn't it funny how the tide changes? For the last (nearly) 17 years I have been immersed in the world of autism. I have lived my son's disability intensely during this time and have experienced all the stages of grief that come along with the territory. To be honest; and as I have discovered, those stages don't completely disappear. They do rear their heads on occasion. However, recovery time is faster and the length of time between the angst grows wider.

Life has got easier for me as time has moved on and RDI has been instrumental in my recovery. I am not preaching the word here, just sharing my thoughts on a very personal journey. From where I stand, my progress is all about me becoming a more confident parent. A mother who is mindful and in tune with her child. A person who has gained the knowledge on how to effectively engage with her child to help him become the best that he can be. Relationship Development Intervention has helped me to understand that my life does not revolve around disability. Living a well-rounded life includes other people and different experiences. It's about finding myself, that person who has been buried under that cloak of disability. Finding the balance is tricky, although eventually obtainable. 

I no longer have the need to read every autism book. I may glance through magazine/newspaper articles, however, I ignore all that nebulous crap on the internet. It is very freeing to push all that stuff aside and just get on with living. I have certainly got a lot more time on my hands!

Anyhow, I thought I would share some........

Di's Tips for Self Preservation and Sanity

Get some exercise, at least three times a week.

Drink lots of water (this is a work in progress for me!).

Get some sleep. Yeah, right!!

Take some time out for YOU. Even a 15 minute walk around the block by yourself would help.

It is ALWAYS possible to make a plan.

Your child doesn't come first. YOU do! Remember the oxygen mask story?

Don't cut yourself off from friends. Unless, they are not worth keeping!

Make an effort to meet new people who walk the special needs path.

Take up a hobby. It doesn't have to be all consuming. Just a little something that allows your mind to drift away. Not drugs!

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Be flexible and adaptable.

Have extra special connection time with your other child/children (if you have them!). There is something so cool about a neurotypical kid.

Don't forget your husband/partner (if you have one!). He/she also was on the scene before your child/children.

What? No time, you say?

Pffff.... it is ALWAYS possible to make a plan ~ if you really really want to.

Get off that screen. Limit your screen time.

Do NOT argue with anyone on the internet. It's not worth the grief.

Find some like-minded people on facebook and hang out with them in a private group.

Listen to that gut instinct of yours and say "NO".

Read a book (not relating to disability).

Have a glass of wine. A bottle.

Don't stop going out into the big wide world (been there, done that. Not nice).

Push the boundaries.

Challenge yourself.


Be kind.

Have a motto to make you feel good.

Remember. If you really want to do something, it is always possible to make a plan.

Have a positive mindset.

Look on.... 'The Bright Side of Life'.

* All images were created by me!

Living in the moment

Yes, I know.... I did say that I wouldn't be sharing any more video footage of Nick. BUT, this clip makes my heart sing! It is only a small segment of the original footage; therefore, you are not getting the whole story.

I have chosen this particular piece to spotlight a few things that stood out for me. The video runs for less than a minute!

The connection between us is just too precious. Nick is enjoying the interaction with me. He is focused and continually references my face and body language for information, enjoyment and experience sharing.

We each have a role to play. In this case, we were using a reciprocal pattern (I take a turn, you take the same turn). Although, it has to be said, Nick expanded on his turn! He decided to take a brick and then deliberately knock some of the others off the stack. Not once but twice. I love that he took this initiative and then looked at me each time to check out my reaction.

I am providing guidance by slowing down the activity, really drawing out my turn and building up the anticipation. I use noises and declarative comments to spotlight different aspects of our interaction.

We have a lovely co-regulatory pattern happening and we are sharing the experience. It's good fun and Nick will have a really nice episodic memory of our time together. Moments like these are highly motivating and addictive. Mindful guiding really works a treat. #RDI


"Mindful of being in the moment and really enjoying what you have now."
Dr Sarah Wayland

Rethinking the plan!

I have a new fridge. It's not the most up-to-date or flashiest fridge, however, it does have a really cool water dispenser. Okay, I have to manually fill the water container.... but let's not talk about that boring fact.

I figured that Nick would also find our new toy quite interesting. Not so. Ho hum. Bearing this in mind, I decided to plan an activity around the dispenser. It would be a proactive challenge for us and the outcome would mean that Nick could help himself to cold water whenever he wanted.

As always I wrote up a wee little plan.

What is the activity about?  Guiding Nick on how to use the water dispenser.

What will I do?  I will model the process a few times and then we will use a simultaneous pattern. I take a turn, Nick takes a turn.

Language style: I will use declarative comments to describe the process. I will keep the pacing of the activity slow in order for Nick to observe and process my modeling. I will add in pauses to give Nick time to make his own plan using the information he has seen from my modeling.

What limits will I set? Remove any distracting elements. After modeling how to collect the water we will only take three turns each.

Reminder: Although I am teaching Nick a skill, I have more interest in our connection and co-regulatory experience. The skill will become natural with time and practice.

Feedback from the activity.

I invited Nick to the fridge so that I could show him our new toy. He became a little agitated and indicated "finished". This is Nick's standard reaction when faced with anything new (even chocolate!!). I reassured him and let him know that he just needed to watch me. I modeled how to put the drinking glass to the dispenser on the fridge door and "push, push, push" to get the water. I observed that Nick had reached his edge and was teetering there precariously. Again, I acknowledged that it was new (a new experience) and bit scary for him. I reminded him that he only needed to watch me.  Due to Nick's stress level, I had a quick rethink about my original plan. I then decided not to invite him to take a turn with the glass. His role for today's activity was to be an observer. 

Nick calmed down as I continued to slowly model the process and quietly explain what I was doing, I could sense that he was in the moment and paying attention. On a couple of occasions, he even prodded the water dispenser with his finger. At the end of my modeling, I took a sip of the water and did a quick recap on what we had done. Nick listened and then proceeded to walk away...... We ended on a productive note!

Moral of the story

It helps tremendously to have a plan, however, it is important to be flexible and rethink the plan if necessary. 


This is me being flexible and breaking from my regular pattern of photographing pretty flowers! I planned the image I wanted to capture.... and then deliberately moved the camera!