Sunday, November 12, 2006

it's all about the competence

Actually, I think I'm borrowing that phrase from my friend Kyra, but I'm sure she won't mind. (Anything in the name of RDI, right, Kyra?! :-)

This is the real reason that you don't want to jump ahead and work on Stage 3 objectives when your child doesn't have Stage 1 skills in place, etc. RDI is a process, and a huge part of the process is learning how to build your child's competence. This starts even before Stage 1 work, as you work on Regulation and R-C-R. As your child starts feeling the competence that grows from small successes, they become more willing to reach out and extend themselves to new things. And feeling competent is a HUGE motivator.

Take this photo of Jacob, for example. He's a little over 4 1/2 yrs old in that photo. He's seen here competently scaling a climbing wall. At 2 years of age, Jacob could not climb, not even a single step, would not even try. So we started teaching him to climb, literally one step at a time. We'd give him something that was just a step high. We'd help him climb up onto it, and climb back off. He got competent at it and it became one of his favorite things to do. Then we upped the ante and made it two steps, and so on, until he could climb several stairs at a time, something that he practiced often, not because he was Autistic and obsessing over it, but because he felt competent doing it and wanted the good feeling that a person gets when they are sure they can do something. So we took him to playgrounds and, step by step, his competency at climbing ladders grew. By the time he first saw this climbing wall, he had learned that if he worked hard and took it step by step, he could be successful, so he worked hard for weeks to be able to scale this climbing wall by himself. If we'd taken him to this wall before giving him the experience of competency with the easier climbing equiptment, he would certainly have failed in his first few attempts, and not having that history of competence, he would most likely have given up. It would have been like attempting a Stage 3 activity when the child hasn't even learned how to be competent with Regulation.

All said because I know how overwhelming it is to view the DVD and see those kids working at Stages 3, 4, 5, etc, and think "wow, my kid wouldn't be able to do ANY of that". Neither could my kid! Until we'd built up his history of competency, and he had those building blocks of success to fall back on, none of it would have been possible. And trust me, I watch videos of kids at the higher RDI stages and find myself thinking "whoa, will my kid every be able to do that?" But I know the answer is yes -- I've grown my own competence with our RDI successes.

It's all about the competence! Posted by Picasa


At 7:05 PM, Blogger mcewen said...

RDI is great but they don't give you a free energy pack to go with the book.
Best of luck and best wishes

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Harvest Mom said...

The typical comment I get from people when they find out that I have an Autistic son is "That's so hard!". But I wonder, is it? It is any harder than how any other parent has it? I mean, each child comes with his/her own set of challenges. My Autistic son's challenges are different than my non-Autistic son, but the little "typical" one isn't any "easier".

I personally think that energy pack needs to be handed out at the hospital with the birth certificate! :-)

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous kyra said...

yes! yipee! it's all about the competence.

and i'm with you--energy pack at the hospital discharge desk! but just to weigh in, i DO think having a kid on the spectrum is harder than having a typical kid. that's my honest feeling. of course, what leg do i have to stand on? i have no basis of comparison! but there you have it; having no leg to stand on never stopped be from flapping my gums before!


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