Welcome to my Mumbai travel blogpart 2. My travels continued for the second week in Mumbai!
Day 1 : Chitti’s (aunt’s) house to Mani Mamu’s (uncle’s) house : “I love birds! A cockatiel sat on my shoulders”
I love birds! I got excited as we went to Mani mamu’s (uncle’s) house. There were two cockatiels and many budgies in their house. One cockatiel sat on my shoulders. I was so excited and happy. It was fun to meet their daughter Naira. We played with clay there and came back home in Chittappa’s (uncle’s)car.
Day 2 : Chitti’s (aunt’s) house to VVMC park : “Meeting other homeschoolers”
Next day we went to VVMC park. I saw a lot of birds in the park. I love birds, I love to see them flying and chirping. There were a lot of children in the park too and we had a lot of fun. There were slides and swings and wonderful rides. It was a park for kids and we also met other homeschoolers like me there.
Day 3 : Chitti’s (aunt’s) house to tailor shop : “Searching on the streets for a tailor shop”
One day we went to find a tailor shop to stitch a lehenga choli for me to wear in Anu akka’s (sister’s) marriage. We saw several shops but we did not find any tailor shop to stitch my lehenga choli. At last we found one lady who agreed to stitch it. It was a relief to finally find her.
Day 4 : Chitti’s (aunt’s) house to Aaji Aajoba park and Calisthenics training centre : “Kesar Lassi was so yummy”
Next day we went by train to Malad and took an auto from the station to Aaji Aajoba park. There was a drawing day for homeschoolers there. There were also rides in the park. They were fun. Next we went to the Calisthenics training centre as the park got closed. There I did a lot of fun activities like hanging on the bars. When we came back, I ate Pani puri and Kesar lassi in the shop near the station. It was so yummy.
Day 5 : Chitti’s (aunt’s) house to a book exhibition : “My favourite Hanuman story book”
Next day we went to a book exhibition. There we saw many books. There I found a Hanuman story book. I started reading it. It was fun to read the book standing there. We bought some other books and came back home in Chittappa’s (uncle’s) car with my cousin, Anshu.
Thank you for reading my blog! Hope you enjoyed!
Author Lavanya Iyer
Lavanya Iyer is 9 years old Neurodivergent. She loves to read, draw, paint, and do traditional dance. She is a newly incorporated CreativeSaathi junior and a bloggersaathi junior with our team now.
Many neurodivergent individuals and their parents face significant amounts of stress. This stress arises not only because of challenges that an individual has in areas such as motor functioning, executive functioning, and communication but also due to the environment. Finding the right environments for neurodivergent individuals to thrive is not easy.
Can Theater Arts for Holistic Development be used to teach stress management?
This is the question that I have been mulling since Ananth started his Bharatanatyam lessons with Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh, a senior faculty and artist at Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning (RMCL), Bengaluru.
Ananth has been learning Bharatanatyam for more than 10 years. Even during the first lesson with Ujwal, I felt a striking difference in his approach from Ananth’s past experiences. I had connected with him through the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) program by RASA India. So I already knew that his approach was shaped by TAHD. As lessons continued, I realized that his approach represents an integration of The Ramana Way and The TAHD Way! Ramana Maharshi is one among the great spiritual masters of India who has guided the world to get back to their own nature which is divine and blissful. Thank you Morpheus for your amazing artwork for our blog posts! Ananth and I are happy you shared your portrait of Ramana Maharshi with us for our blog.
The question below and the response (emphasis added) is from Ananth’s blog post yesterday that included an interview with Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh.
4. Did you start incorporating Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings in dance before integrating TAHD?
Yes, Ramana came first and with it came the understanding of the true purpose of dance which is to realize our true nature. I loved listening to stories always. After the training of TAHD the primary goal of all the lesson plans was to understand that our true nature is happiness. These lesson plans includes song, dance and stories.
The first time I observed Bharatanatyam lessons at RMCL, I was struck by the opening lines:
Omkaranai idhayathil ninainde
Mahizhudun Punnagai Purinthen
Thai ya thai ennum spurana thudane
Thataduvai nam saidiuvum
Lyrics by Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh Tamil Translation: Dr. Sarada
These lines invite the student to think of God’s power within themselves and smiling before starting dance. We did four lessons during our first visit. Somehow, these opening lines caught my attention each time. Later I realized that these opening lines shifted aduvu (small patterns of movement and expression that are the building blocks for Bharatanatyam) practice in a subtle but important way. I continued to observe aduvu teaching during online sessions. The theme of being attentive to God’s power within you and smiling brightly were a part of every lesson!
Smile Brightly and Dance – A 100-Day Projectis Born
Over the last month, I have been considering the possibility of TAHD as a tool for practicing emotional regulation and stress management. The Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI) video on Strengthening Stress Resilience and Immunity is a useful resource to think about aduvus as a stress management practice.
Stress is an internal state of the organism and mental processes. A need or demand that is perceived to exceed the resources available to effectively deal with it at a certain time or disease can cause stress. The description of the video notes that MNRI® offers new approaches to enhance stress resilience and immunity, as we contend with the neurodevelopmental impact, the emotional/physical trauma, and the panic from the coronavirus pandemic. The uncertainty and challenges during the pandemic and other situational factors have resulted in a period of stress for Ananth.
So I was intrigued by the possibility of Smile Brightly and Dance as an approach for teaching stress management while teaching dance. Since MNRI is not easily available in India, TAHD and especially the aduvu practice as a way of affect regulation and stress management is a possibility worth exploring. Even if MNRI were readily available, dance brings the practice into a fun and engaging activity for the learner to take ownership of this practice rather than a therapy organized by others.
Our 100-Day TAHD Project Begins
Once I saw the possibility of using aduvus as a tool for practicing emotional regulation, I started thinking about a 100-Day project. Aduvus struck me as a powerful tool for creating opportunities for learners to practice facial expression. Facial expression is also practiced in storytelling and drama but aduvus provide a systematic, incremental, and consistent way of practicing affect regulation daily.
Hence, the 100-Days of Smile Brightly and Dance project was born.
Day 1: 12-15-2022
Pay attention to God’s power within you.
Ananth is beginning to internalize this message. Today, he told me that he had a hard time with fast transitions because he was not paying attention to God’s power within him!
Building Positive Thinking Trails
Today, I had an aha moment. Ananth has a tendency to get stuck on negative thoughts/experiences. So I suggested that the next time he has a negative thought, tell himself that God’s power is within him. Since Ujwal brings this message daily in one or more ways, this thought (and related thoughts) can provide an alternate path for thoughts.
Tattaduvu (We tried the Aduvu Adaivu video in the morning but for our purpose, the one Ujwal and Ananth did at RMCL works better. It is slower and repeats Omkarane twice.
I have decided to practice the exercises and aduvus with him. While he is doing fine with a teacher or in a group, his attention and concentration have been significantly affected during the last year. In the early days of learning dance, I used to practice parts of the lesson with him. For this 100-Day project, I will be doing exercises and some aduvus with him as I think it will help get the most benefit out of this practice.
Day 2: 12-16-2022
Ananth learned one more aduvu in a slower format in his class. We will add that to our daily practice for the 100 days.
Day 3: 12-17-2022
We practiced the mettaduvu. We are seeing a goal for skills practice. Side bending while doing mettaduvu is our goal for the coming week!
The poster below shows our project timeline.
We invite you to create your own Smile Brightly and Dance 100-Day project or some other 100-Day Theater Arts project and share your journey with us in our LIFESMART groups!
I want to ask you all, Do we need to be verbal to communicate? I don’t think so, then why stress so much for it. Of course, it’s the most common way of communicating, most of the junta communicates in this mode, but our kids are different so their way of expressing CAN be different.
Now, let’s cut the chase.
I remember seeing “PUSHPAK” movie growing up. I think, most of us might have seen the movie; we have seen, enjoyed “Tom & Jerry”, “Charlie Chaplin”. All of these didn’t have dialogues. Most of the communication was non-verbal. Non-verbal is the foundation of communication, that’s the first stage, a child communicates to his/her parents. The child senses the parent’s expressions and gets an idea of his surroundings.
Next, for any communication to be successful, it has to be in partnership. Most of the time, we talk to our kids in Q&A mode i.e the Imperative language. “What is this”, “Tell me that”, “Say : Bye”. We don’t leave any room for the child to think. But, an authentic or real conversation is mostly experience sharing and using lot of declarative language, else it’s sermon-like or answering a paper filled with Qs.
Now, let’s get to practice :
Non-verbal communication includes
usage of lot of facial expressions, eye gaze,
lot of pause (can’t emphasise enough the value of it)
Declarative Language, simply put, is saying out loud, what you are thinking or experience-sharing. “Yumm, I love these soft Idlis”, with lot of eye-wideing and facial expressions showing it. “oh no, I wanted to drink Chai, but we are out of sugar”. Problem solve it by saying everything out loud. Let your child see and notice how we do problem solving in the real-world.
We practice it with –
Use lot of non-verbal ways of communications,
communicate to enhance “thinking”
Model, not instruct
“Look, Daadi is here. Hello Daadi.”, now look at your child as if to expect him to say. Transfer the responsibility to the child. Pause, If child responds, job well done, or if the child even looks at you or Daadi, communication has happened, acknowledge it.
By not giving the exact words for child to say, you are giving a possibility for your child to think.
“Look Beta, Daadi is leaving” , now look at your child, transfer the responsibility. If the child says “Bye” nothing like it, else we simplify it more, give them clues to facilitate thinking. you can say, “I wonder what we say when someone is leaving”, pause, look at your child, no response, it’s alright, we model “aah, when someone leaves we can say “Bye-bye”, “Bye Daadi, see you soon”. and you can invite the child to say Bye simply by looking at him, his response can be verbal or non-verbal (looking at you or Daadi). That’s the foundation you have built. We might have to repeat the same exercise with different set of people few times, but trust me, once the child gets it, we don’t have to instruct anymore. Later on, he will get the other cues too quickly.
So, let’s focus on Declaratives and non verbal communication to get to verbal. Let’s STOP hounding and be partners !!! Let’s redirect ourselves towards building Dynamic thinkers who can problem solve themselves
Creative representation for this blog has been done by our talented CreativeSaathi junior Lavanya Iyer. Non verbal conversation/ communication is depicted through the bond and connection between Radha and lord Krishna.
Hi , in this blog , I will talk about some fabulous fine motor skills to work with individuals on the spectrum
What are fine motor movements –
These are skills are intricate finger and hand movements ,These skills are important for feeding , dressing , writing , playing with different toys , manipulating phone and tablets , switching on and off devices
Basically we use the small muscles in our hand to do all the activities mentioned
It is important to know and understand that for effective fine motor functioning , one needs good core stability and shoulder strength.
These big muscles provide stable base for hands .
Please note that when we reach our hand forward to hold and pick up a glass to bring it to our mouth , the force is also brought by good shoulder girdle strength and core musculature
That is why you must wonder why a physiotherapist of your child is doing lot of heavy work activities for core and upper limbs , he /she is also aiming to build good fine motor control and tone in your child by this muscle synergy
Also it is important to encourage good posture (head, neck, thorax and lumbar area ) for good fine motor work like writing , painting , playing with toys.
Here I ll suggest some fine motor activities /games to try with your child to work on fingers , hands and fine motor manipulation
Sorting games with tweezers and tongs
Piggy bank games
Joiningg links and c links toys
Legos and duplo blocks
Drawing with different drawing tools like crayons , markers , brush pens
Playing different musical instruments –keyboards and drums
This video shows a play way method to teach our kids turn taking and waiting skills. It also enhances cognitive development, memory skills, answering when asked something. It increases vocabulary and helps in language building, bond development etc.
Author Manju K Iyer
Manju K Iyer is a Psychologist, Counselor, Parent coach, Play Therapist, Homeschooler and Founder of PlayTime ( A coaching program for parents of children with special needs).