49. Transforming Power of Guiding Relationship with Sarah Wayland

By Brigitte Shipman

Mother's Guide Sarah Wayland

In this week's insightful episode, I interview Sarah Wayland, Parent Coach, Certified Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) Consultant, and Special Needs Care Navigator who helps parents learn how to confidently and effectively help their children with ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, and other brain-based differences at home, at school, and in the community.

Sarah is a mom of two young adult sons who are on the spectrum and shares her journey of raising kids with autism.

She tells how different their diagnoses came and how differently they expressed themselves when they encountered difficulties; the older son would shut down whereas the younger son would let her know in a very conspicuous manner.

She also tells a story of how she could not sit with her son for 10 minutes without doing anything because her grief was so great in the first few years of her autism journey. She got cognitive behavioral therapy with a counselor to manage her own anxiety so she didn’t bring her own “stuff” to her interactions with her son. Once she got through, she was able to sit with him for however long she wanted to.

She now feels that she was giving him the wrong message that he wasn’t perfect and that she had to fix him, and wishes that she had enjoyed every moment she had with him and loved him for exactly who he was in those early interactions.

Sarah also shares how RDI or Relationship Development Intervention has hugely helped her to confidently and effectively help her children develop the skills they need to navigate the world. It has helped her so much that she became an RDI consultant herself.

She talks about the four core challenges of autism--co-regulation, joint attention, self-regulation, executive functioning skills--and how to use the RDI curriculum to improve these areas of functioning.

RDI helps to establish a Guiding Relationship between parents and children, which means that parents are there to be their guide and to help their children navigate life so that they can be the best version of themselves.

In RDI, parents take the guiding role in the day to day life with their kids at home to teach them the skills they need in the areas of core challenges. She gives us the example of helping her son develop joint attention by using their playtime with Pokemon toys.

One of the strategies in RDI that she found useful was to slow down. She realized that she needed to give her son time to process things and give him the chance to think through things for himself before she jumped in to help him.

Sarah likes to give parents she works with the education piece but also the strategies to help them help their children develop a sense of self-competence and self-efficacy.

In addition, she talks about the importance of allowing our kids to go at the right pace for them as opposed to going at a pace society says they need to go, as she recalls her son having anxiety in college until he was able to go at the right pace for him.

Finally, she tells you to trust yourself and listen to your child because you know better than any experts and your intuition will guide you.

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