Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reflections on GPR, Resilience and Narration (Part 1)

Huh, what?! I know, I know, yet somehow they all go together. I'll get to it, I promise. Light bulbs have been going off for me with all of this stuff lately. My only problem will be in MY narrating it coherently. ;D My brain is a bit ADD and tends to jump around faster than I can catch all the thoughts. I'm going to go in order of what's listed in the subject and maybe I can keep it straight. All of what will be written here is as much for MY benefit as anyone reading this blog. I need to 'narrate' review what I'm learning to help me remember it all better. Thanks for 'listening'. ;D

1. In RDI, we learn A LOT about GPR (the Guided Participation Relationship formerly referred to as Master/Apprentice Relationship). So what is the GPR? I'm glad you asked? he he I like to take things down to the most simplistic form. So, to me, GPR is just thought of as 2-way communication. Sometimes that means it's verbal, and sometimes it comes thru facial expressions, gestures and sound effects. This is the normal way we all develop. As babies we come out programmed to pay attention to those around us, to feed off the information given us by their words, voice, face etc. It's how we learn about the world. As we get older, we continue to learn 'thru other people'. We read body language. For instance, you can probably tell when what you're saying is confusing somebody by looking at them. So you may slow down, start over etc.

This is important stuff because most autistic kids are not learning this way. They learn thru movies and books, maybe some rote tasks taught. They are not learning thru people. Not in a Guided Participation Relationship. Why does it matter?? Because, people are dynamic, ever changing. Books, movies, tasks are not, they are static or the same all the time. The GPR is foundational to our normal neurological development. Without it, strange stuff starts to happen. We, as the guides, lose touch with our child. We're not getting the feedback we need to understand where they are at, what they are thinking and where their 'edge of competency' is.

The edge of competency is simply referring to that point you know you can push somebody to before chaos erupts. With babies we keep encouraging them to take one or two more steps by gauging how they did on their last walking experience and lengthening it a bit each time. When adults are talking and one is giving directions, he's watching for the edge of competency of who he's explaining to. When the glazed look comes into their eye, you know to back up and give support (or scaffold) at the point they got lost. All of this can also be referred to as the 'zone of proximal development'--working within someone's edge of competency.

Example: Dancing. Think about how much non-verbal communication goes into 2 people learning to dance a routine. How close, far apart to place the body, foot, hands etc. Timing involved in staying with the music, your partner and the steps of the dance. GPR is all the stuff it takes for these two people to produce a finished product. If your partner is autistic, what generally happens (at least with my Pooh) is yelling (this is too hard!!), stomping (my poor foot!) and leaving (avoidance of a challenge).

Which leads us to Resilience....

(This post is getting entirely too long so I'm going to write this as a little series. Stay tuned for part 2.)


The Glasers said...

Keep on posting--this is a great summary of what I have had to figure out through trial and error in seventeen years of living with autism!

Just don't tell me I have to watch "Dancing with the Stars"! I just can't go there!

ajourneyinmommying said...

Wow! I am so intrigued! My little guy (5) who is currently going by "Woody"...from Toy Story :) has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS. SO much of what you say in these posts reminds me of him. I can SO hear what you're saying about needing to just BE and enjoy life rather than constantly studying what you're doing and all that....not sure if I summed up what you said very well. Maybe like Pooh I'm adding my thoughts into what you said. :) So glad I followed lots of bunny trails and found your blog when I was looking at a HS forum tonight. :)