Friday, December 15, 2006

social explosion

Late summer of 2006 is when we saw Jacob's big Social Explosion --when his social desire and skills suddenly took off like they were fueled by a jet engine. The kid who was strictly a passive, often disinterested, participant in play with other kids suddenly started to become a real part of interactions, and even started soliciting attention from other kids. Mr. Flexible was ready to try out that new set of wings we'd been crafting for him, and he's been soaring ever since.

Two years before, prior to RDI, a typical scene of Jacob on the playground would look like this: A small group of kids are chasing each other around the playscape, playing games of tag, doing typical kid things. Jacob spins around a pole nearby, pretty much oblivious to anything else going on around him. Or he sits at a stationary game, working on the same game for an hour without lifting his head. Or he repeatedly climbs the same ladder and slides down the same slide. When there is a line for that slide, he stands patiently waiting his turn, hands subtly flapping.

Skip ahead to the same playground, late summer, 2006. Jacob waits patiently for a boy to finish eating his lunch, telling me "I'm going to play with that boy when he's done eating". The boy finishes his lunch and heads in the direction of the playscape. Jacob skips over to join him and says "C'mon, let's play!" The boy gives him a wary look and says "I'm not going to play with you, I don't even like you." Unphased, Jacob says "Why not?" "Because I don't know you" says the boy. "Oh" says Jacob, pondering that for a second, then coming up with a solution. "I'm Jacob!" he introduces himself, then adds an introduction of his brother too, followed by "So, c'mon, let's play". The boys proceed to chase each other all over creation, come up with a couple different pretend games to play, and have a rollicking good time in general, each taking turns adding variations and twists to their play, each coordinating beautifully with the other.

The sequence repeated itself all fall, in variations on the theme of Social Success, with me sitting in awe of the pure power of it.

It's RDI at work. Constantly. Each time Jacob interacts with another child, he builds positive Episodic Memories of having social success, which increases his competence with it, and gives him a base to work from the next time. Each little variation that happens adds to Jacob's database of how to respond to Dynamic systems, increasing his competence in that arena too, making him crave more variation. It's child development. Typical development, the way the textbooks say it should happen (just a few years late, but who's counting?).

The wheels have been set in motion, there's no stopping it now. His brain was busy working on Stage 6 co-regulation activities before I'd even had a chance to crack the book and read what they are. Those neural connections are developing at a rapid pace, all along the right pathways now that we've shoved them over there and held them in place for a bit with all the earlier stage work. Every time he interacts with another kid successfully, he adds to the network of connections that are laying the groundwork for the next several stages of RDI work. Sometimes it feels like I'm just floating along with it, caught in the current like a tiny inflatable raft. And Jacob's holding the lifeline. Confidently, with strength, knowing instinctively that he's at least partially in charge of where we're headed now.


At 7:35 AM, Anonymous kyra said...

isn't RDI amazing? and not just RDI. you, jacob, and his whole wonderful team!


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