These simple activities are great for working on connecting emotionally with your child, and practicing nonverbal communication. Before beginning, ensure that your child is calm and in a receptive state… and that you are too. Set everything else aside. This is precious time. Your child deserves your full attention.
Give yourself permission to take 10 minutes for this. KEY – be sure to end your interaction while you’re both enjoying it. If you think 5 minutes is safer, than 5 minutes it is (or even 1!). Stretching it out longer can be a mistake. You’re better off to enjoy a short, pleasant interaction than to have it derail trying to do too much, leaving both of you feeling badly. We’re looking for quality over quantity!
More is not always better. Parents often discount themselves as candidates for a parent-based intervention like RDI because they don’t have hours to put in each day. Hello! Who does? Working parents see amazing headway involving their ASD child in a few simple ‘round the house activities a week and more on weekends. Really! Here’s the secret – the rest of the time, they look for opportunities to stretch their child’s thinking, build resilience and stay firm with limit setting – all through how they communicate with their child. Cool huh? I’ve had years’ of experience guiding parents toward becoming proficient in this… to learn the strategies, build them into your lifestyle, and to help you “massage” things along the way.
So, you’ve earmarked a few un-interrupted minutes. Now, before you begin, try to be aware of your own physical state. Be mindful. What are you doing… how is your child responding? How do you respond to his response… and so on. Looking for an A+ from me? Keep some notes so next time you try it, you can see how things shift, or write down what you’ll do differently.
Didn’t go so well? We’re not looking for perfection here – we’re looking to learn!! If our lives were so perfect, we wouldn’t need to be doing this in the first place! Give it another “go,” be kind to yourself, and please, don’t lose your sense of humour (I tell my clients this is about “the good, the bad and the ugly!”)
Here are your activities:
- – While helping your child in the bathroom, take turns making goofy faces in the mirror. Or, ask your child to try to follow you as you change your expression
- – Look at pictures from the holidays together. Reflect back on memories, sharing things you did, ate, or places you visited
- – Take turns brushing snow off the car. Play peek-a-boo from either side of the car. Is your child in the car while you’re doing the brushing? Knock on the window and make silly faces (pick up where you left off in the bathroom)!
- Sing a song together, then switch to humming unexpectedly… or “forget the words” so your child can feel good about helping you.
- Pretend you need “help” lifting light things. Pause and give your child to offer help. Exaggerate your frustration, using facial expression and sound.
Questions? Ask away! Have fun and be sure to give your child time to process your actions.