Mapping Learning Outcomes and Activities

Mapping Learning Outcomes and Activities:
A Simple Visual Tool for Neurodivergent Learners, Parents, and Professionals

Our Journey to a Simple and Flexible Planner
Dr. Dasaratha Rama

Parents of neurodivergent children have to make sense of long lists of goals and outcomes from various therapists, educators, and others. Over the last two decades, I have struggled to keep track of varied outcomes and address them in a coherent and consistent way. Despite my years of experience as an educator, the moving targets are very difficult to organize and navigate. When I saw the organization of outcomes in the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, I was drawn to the simple yet comprehensive way of thinking about outcomes. Looking back, I could have used this framework when Ananth was in pre-school and we can use it today!

TAHD organizes outcomes into eight categories:

1. Motor skills / mobility
2. Basic skills of seeing, hearing etc.
3. Self-help skills
4. Cognitive skills
5. Language and communication
6. Social interaction
7. Emotional expression
8. Cultural / Moral Values

While the framework is simple and can be used throughout life, we created a visual and tactile tool using folded circles and post-its. Hands-on tools make information more usable! The elements of the circle are as follows:

I. Point of Learning (green post-its)
The point of learning represents the center of the circle. According to Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, everyb individual at any point in life is also at a point of learning. This point of learning represents past knowledge and skills as well what an individual needs to learn for his future roles.
Experiences at the point of learning support development!

II. Outcomes (Yellow Post-its)
The eight categories of outcomes are shown on the divided circle (yellow post-its).
III. SMART Projects (Orange)
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-framed) projects are focused efforts to address targeted goals in the short run.
IV. 100-Day projects (Pink Post-its)
100-Day projects are a special kind of SMART projects that focus on improving the daily routine. For example, as Ananth has started his diploma in Bharatanatyam, we are doing a 100-Day project to add new activities and adjust existing activities in the daily routine. In contrast, other SMART projects are completed and do not influence the daily routine. For example, Ananth did two dance performances in October.
V. Daily Routine (Blue Post-its)
Daily routine provides a predictable structure to organize the day. Neurodivergent learners typically seek a well-organized structure to their day. We think in terms of daily rhythms rather than rigid schedules. For example, we start the day with a walk and movement activities (yoga/dance). There are specific activities in the morning, evening, and night that serve as anchors and support a more flexible daily routine.

My Monthly Planner
By Ananth Raghunandan

I have been folding circles since 2007 using an approach called wholemovement ( In my entrepreneurship camp in 2014, I created the Fold, Color, Talk concept. I like to organize information using colored circles and post-its. Even though I use many technology tools, I prefer the folded circle with post-its planner. It is a visual and tactile tool that is always on my desk for easy reference.
Point of Learning (Green)
I have three main priorities for this month:
• I have started yoga to improve body posture, flexibility, and breathing.
• I have started practicing my old varnam (about 20 minutes long) to build stamina
• I do hand gestures and facial expression practice daily.
• I have also started writing practice
SMART goals (Orange)
I had my first class for my diploma in Bharatanatyam on October 28th 2023. This is my main SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-framed) goal for the year. I have specific goals for theory and for practicals.
Outcomes (Yellow)
Dance enables me to address movement and body awareness goals in a systematic and sustained way. Hence, I have put the orange post-it for the diploma under movement and body awareness goals.
Another important category of goals that I have been addressing in my dance class is language and communication. The story of the month is a SMART goal I have set for myself. I write the script, memorize, narrate and write the story for each month. Thus, I have another orange post-it under language and communication.
100-Day project (Pink)
I have started a 100-day project on October 30th. Since I just started the diploma, I expect major changes to my daily routine. We use 100 day projects to evolve our daily routine. We gradually make changes and adjust our daily routine.
Daily routine (Blue)
The daily routine includes several movement activities throughout the day. I go for two walks daily. I practice dance in the morning and evening. I practice hand gestures at night. I have also started doing yoga.
I am also practicing story narration every day. Because I had some performance, I was not able to record a story last month. Now, my goal is to record one story each month.
I hope that parents will explore folding circles with Wholemovement. I also hope that parents will build hands-on planners with their children.
As shown in the picture below, I record my daily activities in weekly planner sheets.

Dr. Dasaratha Rama is a professor and home educator. She was the editor of a monograph on service-learning published by the American Association of Higher Education. This monograph was a part of a series of monographs on service-learning published by AAHE. She was also an Engaged Scholar with the Campus Compact, an association in the US dedicated to higher education civic and community engagement at colleges and universities. She has served as the Chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Section of the American Accounting Education. She is a certified leader in systems thinking, mapping, and leadership under a program offered by Cabrera Research Lab. She is currently doing a certificate in Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) from RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya).

Ananth Raghunandan is a student ambassador for RASA and TAHD. Ananth Raghunandan will be starting a diploma in Bharatanatyam shortly. He is the developer of Fold, Color, Talk concept based on Wholemovment.

Their journey from homeschooling to collaborators and co-creators continues!

Join the discussion in our whatsapp group here:


Expanding Opportunities for Inclusion through the Arts

Arts have played a role in creating opportunities for inclusion for Ananth for many years.
Ananth has been learning Bharatanatyam for over ten years. Dance has played an important role in Ananth’s life because he needs the structured, consistent movement experience. Dance has also expanded opportunities for participating in community events as an observer and as a performer. The opportunities have increased significantly since he joined Ramana Sunritya Aalaya (RASA) founded by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. The eco-system that she has created over more than three decades has created many opportunities for Ananth to perform. His opportunities have also expanded because Dr. Ambika Kameshwar has developed Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD). Ananth has also performed in three theatre performances since August 2021.

This week has been an eventful one for us.
• Ananth participated in a group dance at the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, Bengaluru.
• He also performed at a Mehendi function in Chennai.
24/10/2023 2023 Yogambikai (Vijayadashami Function Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning)
Ananth participated in the Vijayadashami Function at the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning (RMCL) for the first time. He has been learning Bharatanatyam from Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh, Senior Artist and Faculty at RMCL for over a year. It was exciting to perform with RMCL students for the first time on Vijayadashami.
26/10/2023 Ganesha Stuti (Manu Sekar and Neeraja’s Wedding Mehendi Function)
Ananth also had an opportunity to perform at the Mehendi function at Manu Sekar and Neeraja’s wedding. Manu Sekar is the Founder and CEO of HashHackCode, an organization that teaches coding and web development to indidviduals with different abilties.
He performed Ganesha Stuti which he had performed earlier in our community Ganesha Chaturthi celebration.

26/10/2023 Yogambikai (Manu Sekar and Neeraja’s Wedding Mehendi Function)

TAHD and Ananth’s Journey
Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh is a senior TAHD facilitator. He incorporates storytelling as an integral part of his Bharatanatyam classes. Ananth shares stories integrated with music and dance on his Youtube channel. In fact, Ananth’s Youtube channel happened because of the TAHD approach to Bharatanatyam. Rather than traditional dance performances, Ananth can share creations integrating theatre arts tools (movement and dance, music and rhythm, storytelling, drama, arts and crafts).
L: Learning daily
Daily learning has expanded beyond Bharatanatyam. Ananth now learns and practices storytelling regularly. Ananth has started his diploma in Bharatanatyam. These learning experiences have helped him evolve his learning and practice approach as he moves into his diploma course.
I: Interests
Ananth’s interest in Bharatanatyam has expanded to include storytelling and drama.
F: Family interactions
Stories on Youtube channel, drama performances, and dance performances are all ways to engage family members in Ananth’s experiences.
E: Engagement with community
TAHD has significantly expanded Ananth’s opportunities for engaging communities. The Youtube channel is a systematic way to engage neurodivergent learners and their families. Performances provide opportunities to interact with many people in the RASA/RMCL ecosystem.

Dr. Dasaratha Rama is a professor and home educator. She was the editor of a monograph on service-learning published by the American Association of Higher Education. This monograph was a part of a series of monographs on service-learning published by AAHE. She was also an Engaged Scholar with the Campus Compact, an association in the US dedicated to higher education civic and community engagement at colleges and universities. She has served as the Chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Section of the American Accounting Education. She is a certified leader in systems thinking, mapping, and leadership under a program offered by Cabrera Research Lab. She is currently doing a certificate in Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) from RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya).

Ananth Raghunandan is a student ambassador for RASA and TAHD. Ananth Raghunandan will be starting a diploma in Bharatanatyam shortly.

Their journey from homeschooling to collaborators and co-creators continues!

Join the discussion in our whatsapp group here:


The Golden Mongoose

Please watch the video of the Golden Mongoose Story below and follow me on Ananth’s Adventures. I will be sharing one story each month for parents to enjoy with their children.

This story is about how Ramana Maharshi’s silent presence attracted people and even animals. I am grateful to Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh, faculty and artist at the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning for his encouragement, guidance, and support of my story of the month project.

Thank You Shilpi mam for encouraging me to share my first story on my birthday on December 2, 2022 on Special Saathi. In March, I practiced the story of the Golden Mongoose. I shared this story on Youtube on World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2023.

Thanks to Vinayak Raj, Morpheus Nag, and Dhrov Tikoo for their creative representation for The Golden Mongoose story .

What is Silence?

My mother and I also did a short role play and narration to explain the idea of silence. Silence does not mean absence of speech. Watch the video to explore what Ramana Maharshi refers to as silence and think about how a silent mind can help neurodivergent learners overcome stress and achieve calmness.

Activity for Parents and Children

My storytelling project is a Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) project. TAHD was developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. Use the five TAHD tools to explore The Golden Mongoose story with your child!

Movement and Dance

There is a short dance piece in the story narration itself. In addition, you can also try this longer movement activity

Music and Rhythm

The movement activity includes music.


Watch the Golden Mongoose story with your child and encourage them to tell the story.


Enact the story. Assign roles for Ramana Maharshi, the golden mongoose, and devotees.

Arts and Crafts

See the creative representations by CreativeSaathis and draw the story while narrating!

We hope you enjoy the story! Share your explorations and additional ideas as comments or email

Author Ananth Raghunandan


Managing Stress and Enhancing Engagement: Our Journey

During the last few months, the LIFESMART message is clarifying and organizing around the twin themes of managing stress and engagement in learning. This sharpening of our message has happened both due to the challenges we faced last year and through the solutions that seem to be emerging today.

Thanks to Dhrov Tikoo for the beautiful creative representation for the theme of this post. Movement and dance is one of the key tools for balancing stress management and engagement! We don’t have to lower expectations to manage stress. We can find ways to challenge neurodivergent ways without triggering the stress response!

Invisible Problems, Unexpected Solutions

Stress management is one of the most important issues in the invisible problems, unexpected solutions category. It was not talked about when Ananth was growing up. Even today, I see few people talking about the enormous amounts of stress parents and their neurodivergent children face daily.

We have been more fortunate than most people. Within a few months of starting public school, we knew it was not a good fit for Ananth. Our journey to homeschooling began. While we had not heard of this term, Ananth has been fortunate to learn in a low-arousal environment for much of his life. We lived in city where there were walking paths not only within the community but all through the city. Two daily walks has been a part of our lives for a long time. Daily lessons on the walk has been a mode of learning we have used for two decades. We also followed a movement-rich, arts integrated, and storytelling focus curriculum (Enki approach based on Waldorf). Ananth also loved folding with Wholemovement ( Later, he told me that this was a peaceful and relaxing activity. Because of our Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) experience, we also did many activities together around the house and in the neighborhood.

So the solution was there for us before we even knew of the problem! We had a healthy daily routine that reduced stress and increased learning.

Managing Parent Stress

One important stress management tool for me was conversations. My neighbor homeschooled four children. She is very knowledgeable. I would go to her home several times a week. She would give me suggestions and resources. Now, there is a lot of information. The amount of information flowing through social media is overwhelming. I wonder how parents navigate this information and do anything!

Conversations are rooted in a knowledge of people and situations. My neighbor would give me specific suggestions based on where we were at that time. This is one reason that I am moving towards weekly workshops as a place where we gather and talk. I have been exploring this possibility for some time but LIFESMART development has reached a point where this is possible only now.

The divided circle (based on Ananth’s Wholemovement) has two sides – stress management and engagement. It has been formed into a tetrahedron with additional folds.

Balanced attention to stress management and engagement results in sustained progress.

Playing Chutes and Ladders

While we were fortunate to discover many stress management solutions without being aware of the problem, we were not always that lucky. After much progress through RDI, Ananth wanted to try a school. We chose a small Waldorf school thinking that Waldorf approach and school size would make it a good environment for him. Unfortunately, it did not work out and Ananth ended up in a highly stressed place. It took us a couple of years to get back on track.

In the meantime, we discovered MNRI (Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration) and Bharatanatyam. Again, we did not realize this at the time but now we had made another important transition. In addition to designing the environment and experiences for low stress, MNRI and dance had started developing Ananth’s own capacity for stress management and engagement. We continued on this path making steady progress until COVID times.

COVID lockdowns, uncertainty, sudden and unexpected changes slowly brought stress back. Other factors added to the stress. We had our second major movement down a big chute. But while this experience was difficult, it was different from our earlier experience. We had a whole set of tools and practices for managing stress. After 10 years of Bharatanatyam, Ananth was also better equipped to deal with it.

Theater Arts for Holistic Development: The Ramana Way

Again, a solution came when we were least expecting it. Since we knew that we would have to spend some time in Bengaluru each year to be with my mother, I was excited when Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh from the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning (RMCL) taught a class for us in our Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) course. I asked Dr. Ambika Kameshwar whether Ananth could learn from him when we were in Bengaluru. Ujwal’s integration of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings, TAHD, and Bharatanatyam is opening doors to stress management that we did not know existed.

Ananth says these experiences are quietening his mind. He calls these experiences a vaccination against stress! It has only been a few months and we will know more over time.

Is it possible for autistic children and adults to practice emotional regulation and stress management and discover pathways to resilience?

I think the answer is that it is possible. But first we must recognize the debilitating effect of stress on parents and neurodivergent children. In my view, the rush to fix the child creates a lot more stress than we experienced when Ananth was young. My path is clear:

I want to help parents see that stress does not have to be a way of life. Neurodivergent children and their parents can have a peaceful life and slowly work towards development. Development is a lifelong process. Neurodivergent children may not be able to follow the traditional path but we can allow them to develop and flourish in their own way.

The first step is for parents to learn to manage their stress. Seek the right conversations. People who will help you find your way forward slowly. Parents need mindful conversations that show them the way and not more and more information. I have been struggling with the blog for this reason. Should I be adding to the information overload? I am now seeing a way to align my blog with conversations I am having with parents. My blog will be a place to harvest and synthesize learnings from conversations that I can feed into future conversations!


Teaching Concepts with Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) – 1

Use Music and Movement to Teach Children

Thanks to the CreativeSaathi team for the creative representation for this story. Thanks to Morpheus Nag for the picture of the ashram. Thanks Dhrov Tikoo for the colorful squirrel and bird. Thanks Nikkil Thotham for the pictures of the monkey, dog, and cow. This is our second post where we have combined artwork from multiple CreativeSaathis!

Children’s songs are often used by parents and teachers to teach young children concepts such as body parts, animals, fruits etc. These songs are a fun way to teach that include many theater tools (e.g., music, movement, and storytelling).

This week we reached day 50 of 100 days of the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) Lab being organized in collaboration with RASA India. This week we shared a movement activity for young children by Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh of the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning.

While Ananth may not care for these children’s songs much now, the fact that his 1.5 year old nephew will be visiting us soon made him participate with much interest. He and I have been brainstorming ways to try it with Ishaan! Ananth has included his ideas to try with his nephew in his post.

Tips for Implementing TAHD Lessons

1. Practice I-Do, We-Do, You-Do Method of Teaching

A key point from the article above: Learning with a gradual shift of responsibility reduces task anxiety in students and makes studying a fun thing. There is proper time and space given to students to transition from a beginner to an independent performer.

Review this week’s lesson video. See how Ujwal Jagadeesh is using “We-do” teaching. One reason that we have done the videos with Ananth is that you can observe how the lesson is being taught. Even if you are not using the lesson itself, please watch the lesson videos. There are many things we can learn by watching guided participation in action.

Ananth can easily do a one-hour lesson because of this We-do format. He is mostly just observing and imitating rather than trying to process verbal instructions which are more stressful for him.

While I-Do, We-Do, You-Do method can be effective for everyone, there is a very important benefit of this method for our children – it reduces verbal instructions and prompting, reduces performance demands (Ananth mostly follows along as best as he can, with limited corrections in each class).

2. Imitate, Repeat, Memorize, and Improvise

Another key idea that I want to share is the process of learning through imitation, repetition, memorization, and improvisation. Children love to hear and move to the songs repeatedly. These songs are designed for repetition. There are extensive opportunities for children to imitate the parent or teacher. Repetition helps them memorize movements and concepts. Improvisation adds interest and variety. Repetition with improvisation provides predictability and novelty. Think of these four elements of the process when you do the lesson!

Review the video below and observe how imitation is being used in the lesson. Notice how imitation reduces prompting and verbal directions. Imitation is a useful tool for reducing stress because it allows lessons to be conveyed by modeling while limiting directions. However, the capacity to imitate is required. Since Ananth has danced for many years, he is able to quickly follow even if he cannot do all the movements perfectly in the beginning. The teacher also does not correct much during his regular Bharatanatyam lessons. He picks and chooses selected skills to work on rather than trying to correct everything at once.

3. Use Nonverbal Communication

Such movement activities provide many opportunities to practice nonverbal communication. Ananth is following Ujwal without verbal direction. Autistic children often have difficulty in following nonverbal cues as well as in imitation. The movement activity can be adjusted according to the child’s capacity to imitate and follow nonverbal cues.

Movement activities also naturally provide opportunities for nonverbal communication. The student has to track the teachers movement and follow. There are numerous movements to follow even in a simple children’s song!

4. Expand the activity

There are many ways to expand the exploration. Read about the animals. Draw and paint. Make crafts. Write about the animals. Explore other songs.

Consider the five TAHD tools: 1) Movement and dance, 2) Music and rhythm, 3) Storytelling, 4) Drama, and 5) Arts and crafts to identify extensions in a systematic way.

There are many children’s songs that you can use to incorporate movement and to integrate movement and language. Here is a video explaining Ramana Rhymes by Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh, faculty at Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, Bengaluru.

Many parents are aware of the need to use visual tools. Many use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Theater arts tool (movement and dance, music and movement, storytelling, drama, and arts and crafts) offer varied ways of engaging young children in learning about any topic. Once parents become aware of the possibilities for using such tools, they can find ways to implement theater arts for teaching their child any concept or topic.