Saturday, August 12, 2006

starting down the RDI road; in desperate need of a roadmap

So finally we come to the part of the blog that I really want to get working on -- our RDI program! Whew, I wasn't sure we were going to make it here, some of that back-story was starting to make me feel like I had pulled off to the side of the road and gotten trapped in a tar-pit like some modern-day Mammoth. But now that I'm done being bogged down by ancient history, I can talk about the next two years of our life and get us up to date some time before the next ice age.

I would like to say that we jumped into RDI with both feet and competently started a beautiful water ballet, complete with graceful music and a cheering crowd. The reality was more like a walrus drowning. I read every bit of material on the Connections Center website (, I asked questions on the parent message boards, I particpated in weekly live chats, I joined e-mail lists. Yet I couldn't quite seem to get my head around this whole RDI concept. The appointment for our RDA (Relationship Development Assessement) with our RDI Program Certified Consultant was still 6 months away. I certainly wasn't going to sit back and wait, so I persisted in reading and participating all I could via the internet.

My first major obstacle was the terminology. Now, I've always been a bit lingo-challenged anyway, but the terms the parents and program consultants were throwing around seemed like some sort of bizarre code. Or maybe a sick joke. Objectives, Framework, Scaffolding, Regulation (both the Self- and the Co- types), Stages, Levels, Declaratives, Imperatives, Appraisal, Intersubjectivity. Whah??? Someone finally did put up a list of definitions on the site, I like to think my incessant whining about it played a small part.

My next problem was that all of the "stage 1" (which was the supposed starting point for the vast majority of kids) ideas were WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY beyond Jacob's ability. I distinctly remember one point where someone suggested putting raisin eyes and nose on an apple. Without even trying it, I knew that Jacob would run screaming from the room, shut himself in his room, and not reappear for hours. (And even then probably avoid the kitchen for the next week.) I read about a month's worth of ideas, occassionally trying one or two to no avail, but mostly scratching my head over how to even START doing this.

Then I had the brilliant idea (seriously, I think a lightbulb went on over my head!) that maybe I just had to simplify everything to the extreme. If the exercise was rocking back and forth with variety, maybe I just had to rock STEADILY for awhile, then add the slightest little variation in (like rocking a bit slower or faster or more forward or hesitating a bit). Lo and behold, Jacob was able to tolerate this, and even started enjoying steady activties with very slight variation. And lo and behold, at about that same time, the founders of RDI came up with the concept of R-C-R (they actually called it R-D-R back then, but I'm going to use the more current term in hopes not to confuse anyone wandering down the road behind me, at least no more than neccessary). This stands for Regulation-Challenge-new Regulation, and describes the cycle of establishing a regulatory pattern (a pattern the child can recognize), then adding a slight challenge (a small variation), and then the child re-regulating themselves (accepting this variation as part of the new pattern). The idea is that the child builds competence with each successful R-C-R cycle they participate in with their parent. But the key to being able to do ANY of that is that first R -- helping the child to feel regulated in the first place. I envisioned all the lightbulbs lighting up in Houston the day that concept crossed the minds of the Connections Center folks!

With the concept of Regulation and R-C-R in my hip pocket, and a canteen of hope around my neck, we were ready to officially start down the road to Autism Remediation. We were on our way! One step at a time. Posted by Picasa


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home