Thursday, November 02, 2006

the stages

I started out with clever names for this post, including "all the world's a stage" and "enter stage left", but then decided to quit the cutesy stuff and stick to the facts, ma'am.

The RDI program is set up in stages that mimic the stages of typical (i.e. non-autistic) child development. The current version of RDI is broken down into 28 Stages. The up-and-coming next version has over 30 Stages and they encompass something like 1600 objectives. Not every kid is going to need to work on every objective, but mastery of each stage is important before moving on to focus on objectives in the subsequent Stage. Some people dislike the stage system; they argue that typical development occurs across multiple areas at any one time, not in this linear, check-list type fashion. Well, yeah, that's true, but how do you know that you're not missing pieces along the way unless you break it down into tiny categories?

I like the Stages. They aren't perfect (at least in the current version, maybe the next version will fix all the problems), and they don't cover everything in the order that *I* might have covered it if I possessed the brilliance of the folks that developed it. But I like having specific goals to work on, and I like being able to say, yeah, we've mastered that, and uhoh, we need some work here before we can make progress there. In my mind, the more you break it down into tiny pieces, the easier it is to digest. In the new Stages, there are going to be guidelines for how the objectives in each Stage look at various ages in typical development, so that will help fit the puzzle pieces into more of a look at the whole, and maybe will help to assuage some of the criticism and controversy.

In the meantime, while we wait for the newest RDI version to come out (due sometime after the 1st of the year), we work on the current Stages. Like most RDI families, we started out in Stage One. ('Tho part of the new RDI version are "parent objectives" which will be a series of stages prior to Stage One -- most consultants are already using these objectives with their new clients, and I must say, having taken a look at them, I think it's a smashing idea. No more new RDI clients floundering about lost in a sea of terminology and a feeling of general panic. I'm all for reducing panic.) As of this writing, we are just starting to work on Stage 6.

Jacob has followed a similar pattern for all of our RDI Stage work up to this point. He's been somewhat resistant to the "new" objectives at first, due to a lack of competence with the new criteria. After the first month or two, he starts to get more comfortable with his expanding role in our interactions, and we start to see bits of progress, nothing too drastic, but a hint that the work we're doing is actually going somewhere. Then, just as we think we're really starting to get into a groove with the stage, Jacob suddenly starts stimming up a storm (mostly scripting lines from movies and books constantly, but also an increase in physical stims like hand-flapping, blinking, facial twitches, etc), which looks for all the world like some sort of regression. This generally goes on for about 2 weeks. After giving it much study and thought, I think it's a neccessary assimilation process his brain goes through before making a real change. Then suddenly he makes a big developmental leap, sparking all sorts of minor changes in his behavior and way of processing his world, and soon after mastery of the stage we're working on emerges. It doesn't work that way for all kids, for many the changes are much subtler. But this is how it's worked for Jacob.

In the days ahead, I'm going to write about each of the RDI Stages we've worked on and mastered with Jacob, and provide some actual examples of this developmental process. So stick with me and all that gobbly gook will hopefully end up making some sense by the time I'm done. Posted by Picasa


At 5:50 AM, Blogger Cecily said...

Great that you're back! I'll be keen to hear about the stages and all they entail. We are about to start RDI with our little boy. Very exciting stuff!

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous kyra said...

you know, fluffy's progress isn't as clear cut as jacob's but i DO see a pattern to his stumbles into what looks like regression and his leaps forward as he 'masters' new skills.

can't wait to read examples of stage 3 and 4 since that's where we are!

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Christine said...

I'm so happy that I found your blog. Kyra sent me over. We are starting RDI with my son (we have an appointment for the RDA in January) and I am already so excited. I love the way you write about RDI and about Jacob. I've already read every one of your posts and can't wait to see what's coming!

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so Happy to be reading your blog. We're hopefully going to the 4-day in Long Island in Feb and having an rda soon after. Your entries have been so insightful and especially great for my husband who is so busy with work. I just set him up with your blog and he now "get's" it. Can't wait to hear abot your journey through the stages.....


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