Monday, November 06, 2006

RDA


The day finally arrived for our RDA (Relationship Development Assessment). We were "officially" going to be starting work on RDI (as in, working with an RDI Program Certified Consultant), even though we'd been "winging" it on our own for more than 6 months. We were SO excited to get started! I told Jacob that we were going to go meet a friend of mine who had some games for us to play, packed us in the car, and off we went. The Map Man stayed home with Zoo Boy -- it was going to be 4 days of driving back and forth 2 hours each way, no way our little guy was going to tolerate that, especially since there was no place for him to be while we were working with Jacob. So the tough decision was made to leave The Map Man out of the process for the first couple of days.

Our Consultant was as bubbly and engaging in person as she seemed over the phone, and I felt instantly comfortable with her. More importantely, so did Jacob. She started out by giving us time to get comfortable in her RDA room (a barren room save for a pile of beanbag chairs), with a couple of simple toys (foam pool "noodles", a floppy disc frisbee, etc). Jacob immediately commented on all the beanbags and named all their colors (something that we later joked about as SUCH an autistic thing to do -- typical kids don't comment on the color of beanbags, apparently!). We build a couple beanbag mountains, we each got buried by the other in some beanbags, we had a generally good time. Then our consultant started directing my interaction with him. She stayed out of the room initially, watching via video feed, sticking her head in occassionally to give me some guidance, but joined us in the room for some activtiesbefore the day was over. We did all the activties she suggested, "games" that Jacob quite enjoyed for the most part. (Then again, Jacob was extremely cooperative -- and I mean extremely. It's actually a problem! More on that another time!) He absolutely went along with everything. He also absolutely didn't "get" a lot of it. Our consultant was testing the waters, so to speak, to see where he was at in terms of RDI goals. After our 2 hour session, she spent the afternoon reviewing the video tape of the session and developing hypotheses she wanted to test out with him the following day.

The second day, I was the one sitting out of the room for most of the session, while she tested out her hypotheses. This day was worth the price of the entire week, in terms of my learning process. I sat in awe, captivated by the images on the video screen, as our consultant seemlessly moved between activties, continuously adding slight variations that made the activities the same but different. I realized that not only wasn't I adding enough variation in our work, but that the variations I were adding were too big, so there was no continuity. No wonder I experienced meltdowns and resistance! Jacob responded brilliantly to her methods and he too moved seemlessly through the activities. I left that session with a much better understanding of how to go about running an RDI activity.

The third day The Map Man had to attend with us, as it was Parent Training day. I was already weary of the drive back and forth, so I arranged for my Mom (who was watching Zoo Boy at our house) to drive out with him after our session, and we got a motel room that night between the third and fourth nights, which gave Mom someplace local to watch the kids while The Map Man and I attended the final day, which had to be without Jacob.

Parent Training Day was just wonderful! We learned lots of Stage 2 (referencing, which an up and coming post will be about!) games and activities to play with Jacob, and he really was getting the hang of them, as were we. The Map Man and I took turns running the interactions, and we all had a bunch of fun.

Final day was a 3 hour wrap up. We went over our consultant's findings from the RDA, and came up with a treatment plan tailored to Jacob's particular needs. Indeed, we had pretty much mastered Stage 1, and that was music to our ears! Progress!! Already!! Not that we didn't already know that, as we'd seen the changes before our very eyes. But having an "official" verification that we actually were doing it -- remediating Jacob's autism -- was nothing short of thrilling! We listened attentively to the game plan, asked our questions and got our answers, and left absolutely elated.

We were on our way!

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