Tuesday, November 07, 2006

gains through Stage 1

Ok, so I know that everyone is wondering exactly what progress we saw with Jacob on our journey through Stage 1. And I want to have the fun of remembering it anyway! There have been a lot of exciting gains across all of the RDI stages we've worked on thus far, but this first 6 months was definitely the most exciting for us, as it told us with no uncertainty that we were on the right path with him.

Prior to work on RDI, Jacob's talking was about 99% scripted lines from videos, books, and conversations that he heard. He'd gotten pretty good at applying some of those lines in appropriate situations, so not everyone realized that he was talking AT them, not TO them, but we could definitely tell the difference. Especially since the only time he didn't talk in a scripted line was to demand something (for example, "want orange juice" or "need water" or "cookie!"). There was no experience-sharing communication whatsoever. By the time we'd mastered Stage 1, Jacob was offering bits of information from his day, making simple comments on what he saw, and doing his best to make contact with us verbally. His language was a TOTAL mess, and he really struggled just to put together simple sentences, and even then the sentences didn't make much sense. But it was very obvious that he was making an attempt at real experience-sharing communication. By the end of Stage 1, his communication was about 10% experience-sharing communication, about 1% imperitive demands, and about 89% scripted lines. That's still a whole lot of scripting, but we absolutely cherished that 10% of REAL communication.

He also was becoming increasingly interested in doing things WITH us. He'd become quite a good apprentice (which reminds me that I've not written about the Master/Apprentice relationship, or guided participation or whatever they heck they're calling it at this point, yet -- next time maybe), and was happy to do stuff with us, even when there were other distracting things around him (so long as the distracting things weren't among his absolute favorites -- forget it if there were reflective surfaces or books available!). He was happily leaving videos mid-tape to come along and do something else with us. We were starting to do Stage 1 activities out in the world instead of just locked into our non-distracting room. He still had problems focusing when there was too much visual stimulations, so sorting laundry or picking up the room sorts of activities needed to be broken down visually into smaller pieces (so the mess had to be partially moved to the non-distracting room, so that we could attack it in manageable pieces rather than the overwhelming whole). All in all, he was prefering to spend time with us than time alone, which was an ENORMOUS change. Prior to RDI he'd spend hours alone in his room with the door shut. By the mastery of Stage 1, his desire to be alone had decreased immensly.

We obviously still had a long way to go -- his interaction with other kids normalizing was a long ways off. But he was obviously motivated to try to interact with his little brother (had been for quite awhile), so we held high hopes that someday our boy would have friends and be able to play interactively with other kids. For the time being, he was still stuck with either standing side by side with them yet tuning them out completely, or running around the perimiter jumping up and down and flapping his hands, not even realizing that he was looking for a way "in". But interaction with other kids was not addressed directly until after Stage 6, so we were going to have to be patient on that one.

We also still had the vast problem of inflexibility. We often refered to Jacob as the "world's most rigid boy", everything had to be EXACTLY the way he thought it should. So we were constantly running into problems with trying to introduce even the smallest variations. But after watching our Consultant work with him at the RDA, I suddenly felt my first glimmer of hope that there WAS a way to add some very subtle variations to his static elements. Perhaps there was a way to start the foundation for what seemed to me would be a very daunting Stage 4 (Variations).

In the meantime, we turned our focus towards the Stage 2 objectives. One step at a time!


At 10:32 AM, Blogger The Glasers said...

Hi, Jacob's Mom! I've been homeschooling my 17 yo daughter with autism since 1995. I just started blogging and interested in what others on a similiar path (autism/homeschooling) are blogging. I like your blog!

Our two big things are a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education and the association method for language (we are dealing with aphasia too, so speech therapy has to be more structured and sequential). Pamela "speaks video" too and still picks up some language that way. http://aut2bhomeincarolina.blogspot.com

At 1:23 AM, Anonymous kyra said...

i love the pictures you are posting! it's so fun to see your adorable boys at these younger ages.


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