Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Bike Rider

As of two weeks ago, Pooh is officially a full-fledged bike rider. It was probably almost 3 summers ago that we took Pooh in the neighborhood behind us on his own bike with training wheels. It was going great. The wind was in our, um, ears (have to wear the helmets, you know), we were going at a pretty good speed. Everyone was having fun. And then it happened. Pooh suddenly forgot how to brake. He went into a yard, crashed into a bush and then flipped over the handle bars. He had a cushioned landing, so was unhurt. Not that The King and I really knew that. We were too busy laughing hysterically at how funny it looked to see him flip over those handle bars. Like something from America's Funniest Home Videos. The thing was that the majority of the time he was riding his bike, the training wheels were up in the air, so he was really riding! Thus the flipping. So for the next two years, Pooh wouldn't even consider riding without the extra wheels. If they even looked like they were airborne, out came the tools for repair.

So two weekends ago, I'm noticing that as he's riding in the driveway, the training wheels are once again up in the air--almost. So i casually say, "you know, Pooh, when you're riding your bike, you're training wheels are in the air. I bet you could ride without training wheels." He at least looked at me in acknowledgement. And no screaming "I can't do it" ensued. So the next day i again said something about it casually. Then after a long pause, "Are you ready for us to take your training wheels off?" Pooh said "Sure" so we hopped to it and took those wheels off.

It still amazes me that there was no nervousness on his part, no hesitation, nothing. He just took off and rode all over the driveway and yard. He even fell at one point and i heard him yell "I'm fine!" The next day he was riding with his backside off the seat to gain more power pedaling. Then i noticed that he was gliding around with his feet up on the handle bars. We were so proud of him and really hammed it all up. Called all the family and told them.

What a difference confidence can make!

R-C-R Assembly Line

The first type of RCR pattern we've done with Pooh is the assembly line pattern. That is basically a Me-You-Place pattern. For example, i can set up an activity like putting crayons in a box and i would pick up a crayon, hand it to Pooh, and he would put it in the box. That's the pattern. Now, once I see that Pooh recognizes that pattern and sees his competent role, i start making JND's or Just Noticeable Differences. That means i would start changing the way that i hand Pooh the crayon to see if he can still notice the pattern and make the adjustments. I may put the crayon on my head, in a pocket, under my foot, etc. During this time, we try to remain as non-verbal as possible and use our faces to communicate. If he's drifted off mentally, i may clear my throat to catch his attention, open my eyes real big, look at him and then look at the crayon he's supposed to take, then look back at him. I'm letting him know with facial gazing what he needs to do. All of this is so that he can see that he can remain a competent part of the activity despite differences in the way we do things. He's looking to me to guide him in the activity. It's teaching him to trust me to only give him an activity or role that he can handle. Autistic children have a lot of anxiety about the world around then. That's why they want everything the same. They lack the awareness to judge what people are going to do, how they going to do it and the appropriate reactions. If you were constantly put in situations where you had no idea what to expect from one minute to the next, you'd be a little anxious too. You may have trouble trusting people. You may avoid people and activities that you expect would be too much for you, even if you don't KNOW that they are too much for you. Establishing Guided Participation is the answer to this lack of trust.

Pooh did great with the assembly line pattern. He took to his role and we had a lot of fun with it. Our consultant was impressed with all the activities i came up with for a first timer, so i thought i would put a compilation here. These are by no means all the ones we did, but this is part of a list I'm compiling for my consultant and myself so that i can refer to them later for ideas as necessary. Here goes.......

OOOOOOkkkkkkkkaaaaayyyyyyyy! I guess my kids deleted the document off my computer. So, tune in another time, when I've RETYPED them.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Ode to a Dishwasher

Swish, swish, gurgle, gurgle
Oh, what delight
He cleans my dishes with all his might.

Sauces, scum, spots, spills
He removes
Oh, how much more can this improve?

Plates, cups, saucers, bowls
So white
He brings me such joy and delight

Gurgle, gurgle, hiss, hiss
That is that
With dishes so clean, I think I'll pat my back.

Ok, i have no idea if that is truly an "Ode" or not. But, i got a DISHWASHER. Finally!! And it's like magic and i just had to share.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pooh's First RDA

In the RDI program the assessments are referred to as RDA-Relationship Development Assessment. In the RDA 1 the parents are interacting with their child as directed by the consultant. The King and I (no pun intended lol) were instructed to behave in certain ways with Pooh. At some point each of us tried to communicate non-verbally. Then at another point we shut down completely by not reacting to Pooh or doing anything really. This was all done in a room with beanbags and a few toys. There's a camera set up so that the consultant can tape the sessions for later review and also to see what's going on with a tv in another room. The RDA 2 is when the consultant is the one interacting with Pooh. She did different things with Pooh to try to determine where he's at developmentally in Emotion Sharing, Referencing, Flexible Thinking, etc. The RDA 3 is for the parents and the consultant to discuss where the child is at and what things are going to be worked on first. The parents are given objectives to work on and advice on activities to help the how-to part.

Pooh's first assessment went as i pretty much thought it would. No big surprises. And at the end, it was decided that our first goal was to work on Guided Participation, formally known as the Master/Apprentice Relationship. Basically, Pooh needs to learn that he can have a competant role in any interaction whether or not he's done the activity before or not. He lacks Resiliance in that he wants to do something and do it perfectly the first time or he gives up. "I can't do it!" is screamed often in this house. He also has a severe aversion to even simple redirection if he's not doing something quite right. Try homeschooling a boy like that and you'll understand that, for us, priority is getting him to a point where he can participate in a simple activity without giving up rather than on multiplication tables.

So that's what we're doing. Working on Guided Participation involves doing R-C-R'S. Lots of them. Regulation-Challenge-Reregulation You find a pattern, then make slight but noticible differences, then give the child the opportunity to find the pattern again. We've, or mainly myself but with the full support of The King, been doing R-C-R'S out the wazoo. Soon i'll post a list of the ones we've been doing. It sounds easier than it is at first. I've found that it requires a lot of mental effort to think of doing different patterns with different things, moving from one to the next and somehow managing to video tape for my consultant as well. I think it's gone pretty well so far, but i'll wait for the consultant's final judgement on that. :D

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

RDI-What is it?

The new therapy we've started with Pooh. RDI stands for Relationship Development Intervention and was developed by Dr. Gutstein as a therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders. It's a developmental therapy meaning that it's based on what normal development is and where in that process the child has taken a different path. People with autism have "core deficits" in their development. They all have these deficits but may manifest them in different ways. The main breakdown of the autistic brain is the deficit in their Inter-Subjective Relationships. They don't learn from others in the same way that neurotypical (NT) people do. Normally people pass their thoughts, desires, motivations etc through others and then learn from that. Sort of a reciprocal learning. Autistics don't do that. They don't pay attention to what others are thinking or doing. A lot of times they just don't care. As long as everything is ok in the world they've created, then they are fine. It's when they are required to adjust to someone else's thoughts, intentions or actions that they breakdown, or even meltdown. The purpose of RDI is to repair, or go in and fill in the missing gaps of these deficits. RDI is parent-based meaning that the parents do the work. RDI consultants pinpoint the areas that need help and then give support and advice to the parents along their journey. The reason that the parents are the ones that do the work is due to the fact that you're working on repairing the faulty relationship. Who better than the child's parents, as guides and helpers, to work on these early developmental stages? Once a good, solid and healthy relationship is there with the parents, then we can move on to relationships with others.

For more info on RDI you can go to the website at http://www.rdiconnect.com/

So that's our new and main therapy right now. Soon, i'll blog on Pooh's first assessment with a RDI consultant.


This is my first blog ever, so you'll have to forgive me as I learn my way thru this process. As an introduction, i'm MasterpieceMom, hubby is The King and our boys are Pooh (my 9yr old with autism) and Tigger (my 4 year old). This blog is my plan for bringing a bit of mental order to the chaos of our life. We are starting a new therapy with Pooh called RDI that i would like to chronicle. We garden and homeschool and just generally have all sorts of things going on at different times. So i would like to have a spot just to sort of let it all out. Perhaps some of you friends and family will enjoy reading a little along the way. Cheerio!