One of the first things we discuss with families beginning RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) is “they will need to slow down to speed up”. We say it so often that it can be easy to lose sight of the inherent wisdom of these words.
As a society, we seem to be moving faster and faster each day, month, year. At the same time the word “mindfulness” is not standing ground anywhere given the speed we are after! Our lives our overscheduled, our kids are overscheduled, we are multi-tasking more than ever and eventually things just start to feel like they are spinning out of control!
For an RDI professional, the topic of slowing down is a critical component in remediating autism and creating quality of life for the whole family. The combination of a slower pace and carefully planned activities helps not only the person with autism but increases the confidence of parents as they guide their children.
This approach focuses on instilling and carefully building motivation for the person on the spectrum to take on their own learning.
The most important reason to slow down is to restore balance in our lives, personally and as a family.
Some of the signs that tell us that we need to stop and slow down are:
- Are we always rushing every day, every moment?
- Is there always tension in the house?
- Does our home feel chaotic?
- Are we stuck on things that are not changeable at the moment?
- Are we not able to get anything done?
- Are we physically exhausted?
Once you have made up your mind that you need to slow down, you can start looking at the following steps:
- Revise/simplify the family calendar and stick to it.
- Start small, one day at a time and build up.
- Pick the best time of the day to practise a specific goal.
- Think and plan ahead as much as possible.
- Model slow down for our children.
- Recognize personal obstacles.
- Carve out personal, couple and family time.
Few rules to keep in mind when moving towards slowing down:
- Say “no”.
- Put “me” first.
- Make time for it consistently.
- Put aside things or prioritize.
- Let go.
- Ask for help and accept help.
- Go for “good enough”.
Once you start slowing down, you will see that slowing down works wonders, both personally and as a family.
Some of the benefits you will start seeing:
On a personal level:
- Being able to nurture ourselves spiritually, mentally & emotionally.
- Shifting priorities for self, ie. “What is important to me”.
- Taking control of our life.
- Being able to appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we want.
On a family level:
- Better quality of life.
- Developing mindfulness as a family.
- Closer relationships.
- Better trust between one another.
- Making discoveries in life instead of completing checklists.
In order to speed up (development) you need to slow down (to lay the foundations necessary to withstand all the challenges that life brings).
“Remediating autism is a marathon, not a sprint” – this means that families need to take the time they need to support their kids where they are at, and that caregivers need to prepare for the journey and take care of themselves too!
“Less is more”