Friday, September 14, 2012

RDI ~ changing my style of communication

I have been reflecting on my role as Nick's parent and how we have progressed over the years!

If I think back to six years ago I was very much the carer of my child. I fed him, bathed him, wiped his bum and tried to keep him happy. I drove him to school and placed him in the very capable hands of his teacher. I was the regular taxi mum and without fail took him to Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. I was a star. I did a *good job*.

Why did I try to keep him happy? 

My boy hated any form of change. He was extremely anxious. He couldn't cope with noise and/or unexpected noises. He needed his rigid little patterns. EVERYTHING had to be the same. He would get very stressed it we added a teeny tiny variation. We couldn't take him anywhere. Life for him was stressful. Life for me as his mother was exhausting. I seemed to be on a permanent merry-go-round and unable to get off. Life was fast, extremely busy and without reprieve. 

I found it far easier to let my boy be in control and to do as he pleased ~ rather than rock the boat and suffer the consequences!  I was a star. I did a *good job*..... or did I?

Roll in RDI (you knew I was going to say that, right?).

I did a lot of reading and learned a few titbits that I started to apply with Nick. (This was before we got involved with a consultant).

I stopped talking *at* him. I stopped telling him what to do. I stopped prompting him. In fact I shut up and became more non-verbal. I learned that eye contact was not something to be trained. It was more important (and meaningful) that Nick learned to reference my face and body language for information. I love that we have this in place. We can be at the supermarket and Nick will wander off, however, he is constantly checking to see where I am and also monitoring my reaction ~ am I okay that he is exploring, do I need him to come back, do I need help unloading the groceries...

I became mindful about the use of pausing and then waiting for Nick to react. His processing time was slow, therefore I waited.... and waited some more. Not 5 seconds, not 10 seconds BUT at least 45 seconds. I still use this concept and it works a treat. Nick is now much more capable of thinking for himself and his processing time has also increased dramatically. I could be waiting at the car, holding one half of a heavy bag of groceries and Nick will look to me, I shrug my shoulders and look at the bag. He will generally process this information and then come and hold the other half of the bag and we then carry it together...

I learned the value of cutting back on imperative language and placing more emphasis on being more declarative. Phew, this took ages to get used to. Let's face it, we are naturally imperative..... "What did you do at school today". "Pass the salt". "What colour is that?". However... and this is a big HOWEVER! Due to the fact that I have been using more experience sharing language and *inviting* a response, Nick has really come to the party. Again, he is thinking for himself, making his own decisions and responding if he wants to, not because he has to. This is a boy who was unable to do anything without a direct prompt. 

I found that chanting helped Nick transition and distract him from a stressful situation. This is another beauty. As mentioned previously, Nick couldn't cope with change of any sort. Heaven forbid that I wanted him to get out of the car when we got to the supermarket! The screaming, the crying and the pinching.... extreme distress. What I used to do was hold his hand and gently start swinging our hands in a nice calm regular pattern.... and I would chant at the same time, "walking, walking, walking". I still use chanting at times as it helps Nick to focus on what we are doing. I love how this helps him. (*Please note that getting Nick back out into the community was a very slow and gentle process!)

Self talk: I like this concept because I am highlighting my thoughts about what I am doing and what is happening. Nick is learning about *my* thinking process. I am now so good at this that I find myself talking aloud in the middle of the supermarket ~ not so cool when I am by myself!   

The above are just a few concepts that come to mind. It is all common sense really.... it is the putting into practice that makes a difference. We have the following picture at school... it is a great reminder for us all to be mindful about how we interact and engage with the children.

Oops, have just seen the time.... gotta go collect Nick from school. Have a great weekend. x




19 comments:

  1. I don't comment nearly enough But i am always so fascinated when I read your blog.
    Is RDI effective across the whole spectum or mainly with classic autism?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to see you here, Wonderfully Fi. RDI is definitely effective across the whole spectrum. Have a chat with Cecily, she will be able to give you loads of good ideas.

      Delete
  2. You did a 'good job', the best you could, before you heard about RDI and you continue to do a good job....'cos you're a great mum ;-)

    xx Jazzy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jazzy, thank you... I can always rely on you to make me feel better! Thanks for your continued support. xx

      Delete
  3. Hi Great Post, good timing for me as I am just starting RDI and so agree with everything you said although we are having a very non RDI here today! thanks for your other message re the yahoo group! That handout above is great, Would you be able to email me a copy so I can print. When I copy and paste from there it comes out funny! kathrynharney@yahoo.com
    Thanks
    Kats

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kats, thanks for visiting my blog! Don't worry, I have plenty of non RDI days! It is all about having a balance. I will certainly email you a copy of the handout. Chat again soon.

      Delete
  4. Until I read this post and Googled today, I had never heard of RDI. You have opened up a world of possibility to me and my son. I love what you are doing and hohey our son is reacting. And you know, I think I've done a couple of these approaches without knowing what I was doing! Goodness, I consider myself lucky that you popped into our lives, like a gift. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for your comment, Karen. The above titbits are common sense really so I am sure that you have used them. I can send you links to other RDI blogs.. just let me know if you want them! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a great post for beginners. Even though Pamela has had pieces of language for a long time, I can honestly say that her language has grown more in her twenties than it did the first two decades of her life. Once we adopted these basics of RDI, she began to relax because she had more ways to communicate (verbally AND nonverbally). Now, she shares what she is thinking all the time. She sings snatches of songs. Her sentences are lengthening.

    Our homeschooling approach helps too. Like Nick, she is not in an educational environment obsessed over product. We focus on process and opening up the universe for her, whether we listen to classic music, learning poems, studying masterpieces, exploring nature, singing folk songs and hymns, and reading great books. Because her world is growing larger, she has so much to talk about. Last night, while I was doing Wii Fit for my exercise program, she told me, "I look at the moths at night alone, just like Bug Scientist." This is on a day in which we watched a box turtle eat earthworms, released said turtle into the wild, saw baby turtles recently hatched, and looked at two ugly grubs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi there, walking! I actually had two friends in mind when I wrote this post. I wonder if they will read it! :)
    I really enjoy following Pamela's progress and you both continue to inspire and motivate me. Thank you for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the inspiring reminder. I try to remind myself of these things each day, with some days better than others!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zipmommy, you are very welcome. There are always some days that are better than others, such is life! I guess we just have to roll with it...

      Delete
  9. Thanks Di, again such an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, I am just a message away if you want any ideas! Glad you read the post! xx

      Delete
  10. I think I understand a lot more about RDI after reading this, and oddly enough I do a lot of this with my special daughter, not because I knew about RDI but because it just seemed the right thing to do!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love how you are blogging and inspiring so many Di!! I wish I could have done this when I was going through RDI, but I dropped the ball. this is probably why I tell the families I work with..BLOG!!! With two who were dx The very first thing that changed was our communication. HUGE differences with both my boys right away, and they are opposites ( one *MILD* and one *severe*) Gosh I hate those terms!! Just goes to show that creating an optimal communication environment is for every child no matter where they fall on the spectrum!
    Kathy www.whatisrdi.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Blue Sky ~ I am glad that my post has given you a better understanding of RDI, although changing communication style is just the tip of the iceberg! :) Yes, it is all common sense really and how we parent our kids. x

    @Kathy ~ Thank you for taking the time to comment. As you have highlighted, it doesn't matter where the child falls on the spectrum, changing your communication style is effective for everyone.

    Thank you for your comments.



    ReplyDelete
  13. I haven't visited here before, and I'm so glad I did! You've brought me into your world - and I have to say that while I can see how particularly helpful RDI would be with special needs relationships, I think *most* relationships would benefit from slowing down, clarifying expectations through self-reflection, letting go of judgement... there's a lot there for all of us. thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Deborah. So nice to meet you. I like your way of thinking and I agree that most relationships would benefit from slowing down etc. Thanks so much for your comment.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. x