Holiday assignment ~ you have got to be joking! ;)

Dear RDI Consultant

I am sorry to say that I have been a bit slack with my boy Nick over the last few weeks. It has been a crazy time coming up to our holiday season. Then, as I am about to get with the program again, my boy gets sick!  As his health slowly improves, our visitors arrive!

Life happens right? 

Anyway, we are on a go slow with the boy, but that's ok........ there will be plenty of opportunities during our school holidays to help Nick to *think for himself*. We have lots of time to actively *engage* with each other!


Dear RDI consultant

What is this that you have thrown at me? An assignment for me? But we are on holiday, my brain is parked in neutral for the next three weeks!

You want me to do what?

"Describe how you have succeeded in differentiating your role as a Guide, from functioning as a playmate, entertainer or equal"

Right, hmmm, let me think..........
Let's look at playmate, entertainer or equal! 
It is so much fun to be Nick's entertainer, I can amuse him, keep him happy, get him laughing, jolly him along, make life enjoyable for him. BUT this means that I get to do all the work, he is sitting back (think Al Bundy!) and absorbing all that I am doing for him! Sure we may be *engaged*, however, our interaction is one sided, Nick does NOT play a role!
As for being a playmate.... phew, this is hard work.  My child is not into playing, therefore, once again, I am putting in all the effort, trying my best to get him to play with me. True *engagement* is quite difficult because Nick is not interested in 'playing'. Yet again, our interactions tend to be one sided, Nick is not an active participant! I am sure that you get my drift, you can hear what I am saying ~ trying my best to be an entertainer, playmate and equal requires a lot of work and it can be very exhausting for ME!

If I look at my role as being the guide in my relationship with Nick, I immediately feel calmer. Guiding is not about me working hard, it is about taking opportunities to engage with my son. It is about assisting him to be an active participant. I am forever mindful of giving him the time and space to process information. I provide the scaffolding that he needs to feel successful. I add a little challenge to make learning possible, however, I do it in such a way that Nick doesn't become stressed and unhappy about being with me.  As his guide I need to help him build positive episodic personal experience memories so that he will feel competent and prepared to return to a particular engagement. Through my guidance, Nick has learnt to trust me, he wants to be with me. He knows that I am not going to overwhelm him and push him too far beyond his level of competence. 

Yes, I use activities to help with our interaction, however, the activities are only the *prop* to true engagement. I know that my guiding relationship with Nick is all about *engagement*. I am also very aware of his developmental level and realise that there are stages that he has missed out on. Those stages are the very foundation of his development and these need to be addressed. As his guide, as his parent I am aware that what I do with Nick is not hard work, there is no pressure on me to perform........ it's parenting!

Describe how you have identified the productive and unproductive roles you take with the Student

Well, this question is relatively easy to answer! Although, if you had given it to me a year ago I would have battled to get my head around it!!

Unproductive roles: These are unsatisfactory interactions where engagement with Nick is minimal. Nick is passive and unresponsive. He shows signs of anxiety and uses avoidance tactics. I have discovered that If Nick *feels* he is required to perform, he will immediately freeze and then repeatedly make the sign for "finished". I end up being the one who is doing all the work and making the effort to keep our interaction going. There is no flow between us, no reciprocal engagement or any interest. To give you an example; I mention to Nick that I need to stack the dishwasher and I invite him to help me (very important ~ this household chore is being used as a *prop* to help/encourage engagement! My focus is not on the chore itself!). Our first few seconds can be very interactive and it may be possible for me to add a little challenge, however, if I push him too far and keep the interaction going for too long, then we both lose the plot. Our interaction has turned into a task and we have become unproductive!  I need to take great care not to overwhelm my boy. It is a fine line to walk, too much pressure and Nick can't cope!

Productive roles: These are very easy to identify. I feel calm, competent and very engaged with my child. Nick is focused on me and what we are doing, we have lovely joint attention and Nick plays his role with confidence. Our interaction is not hard work, it feels relaxed and natural. Our supermarket visits are a good example of this. Gone are the days when just driving into the car park used to stress out my boy! Now he hops out of the car and waits to see what I am going to do next. He checks out to see if I need a trolley and will happily race off to collect one. We are in sync with each other as we trawl the isles. Nick is comfortable with constantly changing roles and I feel at ease throwing him little variations. He doesn't perceive our *outing* as a task and I am mindful about our roles.  All in all, our trips are generally successful. :)

Dear RDI consultant

I realise that I still have some work to do before I have completed my assignment, however, I am sure you will agree that the following can wait for a bit longer!! 

Share your plan and progress to eliminate unproductive roles and habits.

Describe your progress in maintaining an optimal emotional state for both yourself and the Student, during Guiding Engagement.

To be honest, I wouldn't have a clue where to start....... J

One more thing before I sign off. Thank you for your continued guidance, you have helped me tremendously. I have learnt so much this past year and Nick has made such lovely progress. For a non verbal kid with classic autism, he is doing great!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year with your family and friends. 

Di x



  1. Our interaction is not hard *feels* relaxed and natural!...Loved this and many other sentences...\
    And wow ....the progress...brings a smile to my face everytime!

  2. It's only hard work I feel, if we make it hard ourselves. We know how far to push them and we are the reigns. Lovely post, very informative.

    CJ x

  3. @Crystal, thank you for your comment, it is so nice to meet you! :)

  4. I'm actually fascinated that you are asked to produce these reports, it's not anything I've had to do for either of my kids with special needs. I imagine it could become annoying to do, but I'm assuming it's a great way of keeping track of progress x

  5. Hi Blue Sky, thanks for stopping by! I am involved in a therapy called Relationship Development Intervention. It has really helped me and Nick... the reports are all about self analysis, how I am progressing etc etc! :) I am happy to do them! This post is really about winding up (teasing) our consultant, and of course, sharing what I am doing with Nick! :)

  6. Lovely... has me thinking back to when our son H was much younger. The principals and research behind RDI are still the guiding concepts that underlie much of what we do with our boy who is now 13. I will keep reading!


  7. Hi Leah, thanks for your comment, great to meet another RDI fan! :)

  8. I love that you are promoting RDI! We too did not complete our holiday assignment :)
    I very much enjoy reading about your experiences. We are across the world from you (Canada), but our joy/sorrow, ups & downs are the same. Thanks for sharing it

    1. Hi Renee, thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear more about your family and your journey! :)

  9. My husband & I have 2 sons, an 8 year old with Asperger's and a neurotypical 6 year old. We have been doing RDI for 3 years. I am feeling encouraged by the fact that we are not alone in our journey, and there are so many others facing the same challenges we are. I love the name of your blog, and especially your "Joyful January" piece. There is always something to be grateful for, right now I am feeling grateful for our community.

    1. Hi Renee, thank you for sharing your information and your positive comments re my blog. We need our communities, I am also grateful for mine. Are you a member of this site? (it is for anyone who is interested in RDI).

  10. Just joined up now! Our consultant had forwarded that to us awhile ago, forgot all about it. Thanks!


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