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Our RDI Experiences With Jackie

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RDI Connect

Autism Voice

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Well we've been using RDIŠ now for just about two months (June 2006) and it's going quite well. There are many things we've been doing with Jackie to help him grow and develop. I made up a game based on RDI priincipals of emotion sharing and introduced small variations to help keep it interesting. I call it "Tickles" and it's basically what you'd think of when thinking of tickling your child. Only we first began with both of us tickling each other under the arms in a free for all type set up. He did really well and I could just see he was creating what they call "Episodic Memories" as we shared the joy of making each other laugh. It's a lot of fun to see the happiness he feels at having the power to make me laugh like that.

One thing you have to do in RDIŠ is to use exaggerated and overly dramatic facial expressions. This is to help engage the child's attention on to your face which sets the stage for something they call "Referencing" which is where the child looks to the adult's face for non-verbal information regarding what to do or think of a given situation. Dr. Gutstein calls it "borrowing the adult's competence" so they can slowly begin to form their own and build upon the storehouse of Episodic Memories. Like for example, if I don't smile and laugh Jackie knows from experience that I'm not enjoying the game anymore and he'll stop tickling me. That is just one small example from the top of my head to help you grasp the concept of referencing. There are many other instances where referencing is going on that I couldn't even begin to name them all.

One variation I used to keep our game interesting is with us telling each other, "No tickles, no tickles, no tickles....Tickles!" where we don't tickle during the time we're saying no tickles we're not tickling each other, and then we only do tickle each other when both of us say tickles so that if I still say "no" and he's saying "yes" but not actively doing it until I say so or vice versa. It is a nice variation to our game. Then as that got a little boring I came up with another variation where we're each holding one of the other's feet and instead of saying no tickles I say, "Ready? Ready?...Ready? Tickles!" and then I tickle his foot. It's about drawing out that moment just before the event happens which in RDI is referred to as "Productive Uncertainty" which is really important to do to help a child encode new Episodic Memories with their coach. In this case I am Jackie's coach and he's encoding memories of playing with me.

So that is our first RDIŠ type game we've done and evolved it to stay interesting. We don't use it as often as we did at the beginning of our RDIŠ journey almost two months ago. But we still do it a few times a week as opposed to when we first started using it a few times a day. We've got a new game now where we lie on beanbag chairs and hold our arms and legs up straight in the air for a few seconds before flopping them down limply with an exaggerated rasberry sound like the air is being let out of our limbs and they aren't able to stay up any longer. Again it's all about extending that moment of Productive Uncertainty which is also a lot of fun to lay there laughing with Jackie as he waits for me to signal it's limb dropping time by blowing a loud dramatic rasberry. One thing I have to add is that I love these awesome chairs we got through the RDIŠ Connect website, and although they are expensive they will last for years and years. They are really made well with a leath look vinyl material and seem to be pretty durable. See the picture below to compare the flimsy rainbow one we got from a retail store for about $20 as opposed to the huge massive beanbags we got for $94 from the Connections CenterŠ here.

We also got some Remo Paddle Drums you can see in this next photograph:

This last photo is of the books we got from the RDI Books and Dr. Steven Gutstein's book My Baby Can DanceŠ all from the Connections CenterŠ.

So what else can I share about our RDIŠ journey so far? That Jackie is actively referencing my mother and I when we go out to Walmart and out to lunch afterwards. The last time we went out was last weekend and it was a lot of fun. He stayed with us in the store, I can't tell you how wonderful it's been to get rid of the dreaded harness we used to have to have only a few months ago, earlier this year we couldn't go anywhere without it because Jackie would run off without looking at where he was going and we were worried about his safety so the harness was part of our outings at all times. We began to take it off while at Burger King and he did really well, so slowly we began to try it at the store and after a few times he just stayed with us, pushing the cart along with my mother and I at the same rate of speed I go. This was before we came to know about RDIŠ of course, but none the less, I know it's proof of Jackie's development and growth, that he can be trusted to walk with us now is no small thing.

Relationship Development Intervention: RDIŠ is owned by Steven Gutstein, PhD and Rachelle K. Sheely, PhD Copyright Š and I owe them both so much for creating the RDIŠ program and writing the incredible books describing it. I will be doing more update pages as we progress along the path we've chosen, so keep looking at the main page for the next update on Jackie's Pages.

Thank you for coming to Our RDIŠ Experiences with Jackie Update page for June 2006!