Making LIFESMART Parenting Choices by Dr. DASARATHA RAMA

Engaging the Flow of Life -1

We started Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) in 2004. RDI was one of our most significant LIFESMART choices. RDI set the stage for:

  • L: Learning daily
  • I: Discovering and nurturing interests
  • F: Family interactions
  • E: Community engagement

Engaging the Flow of Life

Engaging the flow of daily life is the main gift that (RDI) has given us. While parenting a neurodivergent child, parents often use tools such as visual schedules and social stories to prepare the child for novelty and change. It is not possible to have social stories for every scenario. Nor is it possible to organize the day completely by schedules. Coping with change and uncertainty is extremely important.

Thus, it is important to ask:

Can neurodivergent children deal with uncertainty, change, and novelty as neurotypicals do?

In our experience, it is possible for neurodivergent children to learn how to cope with uncertainty, change, and novelty. We have never used a visual schedule. We have an organized flow of activities for the day but not a schedule. We have not used social stories. RDI set us on the path to engaging the flow of life.

Now, we are realizing the benefits more fully as Ananth’s language processing, working memory, initiative capacity, executive functioning etc. have grown significantly after MNRI (Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration) and a decade of Bharatanatyam.

Two days before we started for India in July 2022, Ananth went for dinner and a show with his brother, sister-in-law, and cousin in London.

Then, we went on an overnight trip to Manchester with his brother, sister-in-law, and their 9 month old son.

Then, 2.5 hours in an immigration queue when we arrived in India.

More chaos awaited us at home. There was no water because of a motor problem. I asked Ananth whether he wanted to come with me to grandma’s house (it is not being used right now). We went and cleaned the house. Came back for dinner. Then, his cousin called and invited us over for the night. Another plan change but instead of being upset, Ananth was very excited about seeing his cousin’s family.

The next day, water supply was restored but there was no water in his bathroom. He went downstairs and talked to the security himself. We are seeing a sudden growth in such every day problem-solving in the last few months.

This process of engaging the flow of life with greater ease started with RDI.

Seeing the Path Ahead —>

Each Sunday post will discuss one LIFESMART choice that we made. I will discuss the short-term and long-term effects of this choice.

This week’s post introduced one choice with long-term effects. Our choice of Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) had a significant impact on our homeschooling journey. I continue to use lessons from RDI daily. Ten lessons that I learned from RDI include

  1. Declarative and nonverbal language tools
  2. Just Noticeable Differences (JND)
  3. Regulation, Challenge Re-organization (RCR)
  4. Coping with uncertainty, novelty, and change
  5. Experience sharing
  6. Dynamic thinking
  7. Co-regulation
  8. Restoring guided participation
  9. Social referencing
  10. Episodic memory

These are ten key lessons we use even today. We are back to our RDI days and doing random explorations daily because Ananth’s language processing capacity is so much higher and he has a lot of initiative now. So practicing the RDI lessons with these emerging capacities will help us get more from these experiences. Everyone may not be able to do RDI. There is much more publicly available information. We are including small pieces in our work along with lessons from other sources. So get started, do what you can! Every little counts. Learn more about RDI here.

Join the conversation!

In each Sunday post, I will share one important parenting decision that I made and describe the short-term and long-term impacts of these decisions. Join the LIFESMART conversation on Facebook group for discussion of these topics here. Each blog post is intended to spark a discussion on finding your path forward as a parent!

How are you preparing your child to handle novelty, uncertainty, and change?

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