Dealing with change

Many moons ago, before I started with an RDI consultant, I devoured any RDI information that I could get my hands on. Back then, our only way to access the internet was with dialup. This was a laborious process and all very hit and miss (no facebook back then!). Thankfully I was directed to a proactive Yahoo group called RDI Mid Atlantic and it was a mine of information, hence most of our knowledge came from this site. *The site has since disbanded.

RDI has evolved and grown since that time, however, I picked up a few goodies that are still used to this day. The concepts are simple, yet hard to put into practice. I can vouch for this!

One of the most life changing concepts for us has been 'same but different'. If you have been following this blog for a long time, you will be aware that Nick was an extremely rigid child. Everything had to be the same and woe betide anyone who added a little variation to his static routine.

With the words 'same but different' in mind, we began to add teeny tiny variations to rigid patterns. For example; when at Speech Therapy, Nick would not tolerate anything on the table and with the sweep of his hand everything would go crashing to the floor! The Speech Therapist started out by placing a pen on the far corner of the table, reassuring Nick that it was fine to stay there. The table was as Nick liked it, yet it was a little bit different! After a few seconds the therapist removed the pen. Thereafter, each session Nick attended, the pen was put onto the table for longer periods. So on and so forth....

This was the start of helping Nick to understand that 'change' was okay. Variations to routine and order are scary to a child who needs the security of sameness, however, using the 'same but different' approach in everyday life successfully enabled Nick to become the young man that he is now.

Today is a prime example of how 'same but different' has helped him. I made arrangements for Nick to be taken home after school. I did this for a couple of reasons. (a) I was going out for lunch. (b) I want him to experience changes in his routine.

Unfortunately, it was raining heavily when it was time for Nick to go home. Bronny (who was taking him home) parked her car close to the school veranda in order to keep Nick as dry as possible. Due to the rain and some recent plumbing work, her car got stuck. Luckily she was able to get a friend to come and tow her car out of the mud! If this had of happened a few years back Nick would have become extremely stressed and unhappy. Today, he enjoyed the novelty of the experience and was keen to share his thoughts. "Nick loved being pulled out with the rope and was laughing and pointing at the rope saying oh no oh no."

Pretty huge, don't you think?

I Feel Fantastic!

There is this guy who I see at least twice a week at the gym I frequent. He must be ten fifteen years younger than me and has two wee kiddies. No matter how often I ask after his family and general wellbeing, his response is always extremely positive and upbeat. After a few months of this, I decided to enquire about his lightness of mood..... I mean really, two tots, sleepless nights, blah, blah, blah!

It turns out that his philosophy is positive affirmation. He wakes up in the morning, tells himself that he feels great and that it's going to be a fantastic day. In all his dealings with people (and there are many) he reacts with positivity and calmness. A wise man indeed.

Although I am not as optimistic as my gym buddy, I really like his attitude. In fact I have been mulling over his words for days as they really made an impact on me.

Hence I have a new mantra........

My name is Di. I am feeling fit, healthy and happy. It's going to be a fantastic day.

When life gives you lemons, take out the camera!

Just an Ordinary Day

It's 6:30pm and Nick is tucked up in our bed watching TV. I can hear him laughing over the antics of some silly cartoon, probably Mr Bean!

We have had a busy day and Nick has been thrown many curveballs, all of which he has handled with ease.

1.  Nick went for a ride to the airport to drop off his brother. Before breakfast. Gasp.

2.  We decided to go to the movies and watch Finding Dory. Gotta love Disney Pixar. Nick was a star.

3.  Left movie complex and drove to lovely coffee spot. Chocka block full. Back into the car we go.

4.  After much waiting in traffic, we finally arrive at another fav coffee spot. It's close to lunch time and we are starving. Hmm, a bit worried about food for Nick. Throw caution to the wind and order him spaghetti and meatballs. He ate 1/3 of it which was pretty good going as the meatballs were spicy! Yay, new food. #samebutdifferent

5.  Popped into the supermarket on the way home. Shopping is never an issue for Nick and he is happy to play different roles throughout the whole process.

6.  Chill time at home. I made some Butternut and Ginger soup and pottered around with my camera. #metime

7.  I took the dogs for a late afternoon walk at the local park. The husband and Nick went for a 1km walk at the beachfront.

8.  I decided to offer Nick a little bit of soup for supper, followed by Macaroni Cheese.  I only have one rule when it comes to new food. Nick must try it..... one taste is sufficient, although I do encourage two tastes. Well, he ate the lot! Yay, new food. #firstandthen

I don't know about you but I am pretty chuffed with the above list. I love the fact that ordinary days are now possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Have a fabulous week.

Proactive Pausing

I am all about exposing Nick to different experiences, yet am extremely mindful of my approach. I want to build onto his feelings of competence and thus encourage him to be open to new challenges.

It doesn't matter to me if our interactions only last for a couple of minutes (or even a few seconds). All those tiny increments of time add up and are extremely beneficial.

I find 'pausing' to be a very powerful tool. The space allows Nick the time to process information and respond should he wish to. Here are few examples from yesterday interactions;

* Walking into the grocery store and standing by the trolley bay. I paused and waited. After a few seconds Nick collected a trolley and began to push it.

* Standing by the fruit and making declarative comments. 'We need a pineapple'.  'I wonder what apples Nick would like, hmmmm, red, yellow or green?'.  After each comment I paused and waited. Nick thought about the comment and responded. At times he needed some extra scaffolding, however, he found the items needed.

* Leaving the mall, Nick pushing the trolley. I hold up the parking ticket and wave it around. Nick notices and immediately changes direction and we go to the information counter so that we can get the ticket validated.

* In the car park, I place the parking ticket into the machine. When the ticket pops out, I pause and wait. Within seconds Nick collects the ticket and gives it to me.

* I pretend that I can't open the car boot. I pause and wait. Nick has seen me struggling and he uses that pause to come to my aid.

* When we arrive home, I make a declarative comment about taking the groceries inside. Nick gets out of the car and goes to the car boot. I pause. He opens the boot.

* Nick is sitting on the couch with his iPad. I sit down next to him and make the comment, 'I am making cookies and need to get the ingredients out of the cupboard'. As I walk towards the cupboard, Nick gets up and comes to assist. We seamlessly start up a little pattern of passing items to be put on the countertop.

* Nick has disappeared into another room.  I have started measuring out the ingredients for the cookies. I call out, 'I need some help measuring the flour'. I carry on with what I am doing and after a minute or so, Nick comes to join me.

We have many daily moments like the above, where I deliberately pause in order to invite Nick to play a role. For sure, it would be easier to give him instructions, however, I want him to 'think, process and respond'. My wish is for him to partner with me because he wants do, not because he has been told to.


"Today, I am talking about the importance of partnering with your child. For some parents, it may come naturally, for others, it may feel challenging at first. I encourage you to partner with your child at least 10 times per day, everyday. It will get easier and you can start out small and always build on your successes in length of time you are partnering or ways in which you partner."   Barbara Avilia

10 a day!

I am making a conscious effort to partner with Nick at least 10 times a day. If you are wondering what I am talking about, check out this article written by Barbara Avilia.

Grocery shopping ~ So many opportunities for engagement. This is an easy one for us so I am going to count all of our partnering interactions as 'one' experience. I did throw Nick a curve ball by taking him to a different shop to buy our vegetables. #samebutdifferent

Stacking the dishwasher ~ My role was to hand Nick an item. His role was to place each item into the dishwasher. The challenge for him was to figure out where to put the items and how to place them. I didn't want this experience to turn into a 'just a chore', therefore invited him to assist me a few times throughout the day. I kept each interaction short and we stacked no more than 6 items each time.

Cooking ~ I was busy in the kitchen this afternoon, so made sure to invite Nick to help me out here and there. A bit of pouring. Some transferring of ingredients from roasting dish to bowl. Stirring the food that was cooking on the stove. He found this quite challenging so I was very mindful of his edge+1.

We spent some time reading a book and then moved onto putting together a large floor jigsaw puzzle. I stopped our puzzle construction half way through as I don't want Nick to think he always has to complete an activity. We went back to it an hour later.

I have been trying out some hand exercises with Nick and I spent five minutes practicing a couple of the moves. He really struggles with the motor planning so we are taking it really slow. Again, I continue to be mindful of edge+1.

Photography is my oxygen mask, so I am always looking for opportunities to practice with my camera. This time I couldn't resist pulling in Nick to help me out! I thought it would be a fab idea to take a photograph of my freshly made soup and add some winter leaves for interest. Nick wasn't too keen to go outside, however, with a bit of encouragement he came to help me scoop up a few leaves before scurrying back inside! Any engagement is better than no engagement!

Anyone for Butternut and Ginger soup? :)