I have been a “glass half-full” kinda gal most of my adult life. That wasn’t always the case. As a child, I had a lot of anxieties for various reasons that were manifested in fear of sleep, recurring nightmares and doomsday thinking. Case in point, when I lost my first tooth my parents played up the whole “good tooth fairy” thing but I wasn’t so naïve. My mom recognized that I was less than thrilled about that evening’s impending visit from the GTF himself and asked, “what’s up?” I explained “If there’s a GOOD tooth fairy, that means there’s a BAD tooth fairy and he is coming to get me!”
Thankfully my outlook on life has evolved over the years. It’s not because the years ahead were any easier. No, they were filled with uncertainty, insecurity and challenges of all kinds but what I learned along the way was invaluable. In the face of challenges, I learned to develop resiliency and a positive sense of self. I could overcome adversity. I was not in a fixed stuck place. I could turn challenges and problems into opportunities. And I did.
Now you might be wondering what this story has to do with Covid or Autism for that matter! Well fast forward to the early 2000’s when I realized that both of my children had special needs. Whoa! Initially that was a lot to swallow. My first born almost lost his life multiple times due to medical mismanagement over what should have been a simple procedure to correct a simple problem. By 3 he was diagnosed with an intellectual disability and general anxiety disorder. My 2nd born was diagnosed with Autism at 2.5 years of age. More of our personal journey can be learned:
I am not going to lie, I really struggled for several years. I was in crisis and trying to do too many interventions at one time with both of my kids. Ultimately, that left me feeling incompetent because I couldn’t do any one of those interventions well. Do you ever feel that way?
I was moving so fast that I could NOT evaluate and reflect on what was working and what wasn’t. I had to slow down, waaayyy down, so I could get some clarity. Eventually, I discovered RDI which was the best thing that ever happened to my family.
From the very beginning of RDI, we were granted permission to slow down. In fact, it was a “must-do” and the basis was “how can we determine what is working and what isn’t, if we are doing too many things at once?” You can’t. It’s that simple.
This was the first step in moving us all away from the “more is better” hamster wheel approach that well intended professionals had led me to believe was our only option. I don’t even want to share with you my boy’s busy schedules! It was all day, every day! Not only wasn’t I able to function effectively, most importantly it sucked up all my children’s mental and emotional resources and robbed them of any meaningful sense making and learning. They were exhausted by the fast paced overscheduled overwhelm too. I discovered that the “less is more” approach allowed me to be more present and evaluate what was working for my kids and what wasn’t. This felt better. I could breathe. While, I knew I had a lot to learn in the months ahead – I already felt restored hope and empowerment. I was on a journey of discovery about myself, my children, autism, typical development and neuroscience.
After RDI parenting for several months, I decided to become the first RDI Consultant in Canada, primarily to better support my children’s growth. What transpired was a win-win for my kids and myself – I love my job! It has been such a blessing in providing me with meaningful, purpose driven work. Early in my career as an RDI Consultant, the parents I worked with couldn’t get enough RDI information. My clients read the books I recommended, followed through with their all assignments, learned to evaluate their work and learn from their experiences. My main premise has always been to “work myself out of a job” by educating and empowering families to become competent mindful guides to their children.
But over the last several years, it’s become increasingly difficult to help parents primarily because we are all moving too fast! Life is too busy! The digital age and massive amount of information has driven us all into states of overwhelm. Dr. Richard Cytowic explains this state of overwhelm here in his article in Psychology today
So, you might be asking – where’s the silver lining? Where’s the hope? Here it is….
- I hope that every family will take advantage of these times to slow down and mindfully connect with their children.
- Parents will take time to explore therapeutic options for their kids that don’t involve overscheduling.
- Parents will embrace the “less is more” approach.
- Parents will learn that the best therapeutic environments begin at home.
- Parents will learn that they have what it takes to make the biggest difference in their children’s lives.
- Parents will become empowered and educated – no longer overly dependent on “the experts”.
- Parents will continue to choose to make quality time for their families long after this pandemic is over.
- They will continue to eat meals together, take walks together, read together and play together.
- Children will thrive.
In spreading this hope, I am sharing this radio interview with Anna Commons, Autism mom and creator of “The Autism Collective”. I really hope you will take time to listen so you can learn what is possible for your child and for you!
Before I go, I want to leave you with one last thought … RDI is an extremely effective “virtual” therapeutic approach to empower and educate parents as well as provide a comprehensive developmental road map for growth. Next week, I will paint a picture of what virtual work looks like to further support you in your journey.
Love & Light,