Archive for the ‘RDI’ Category

Video #2–Do Nothing

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

On this video clip, Sam and I made a shell mobile for his room…he loves shells.  And, shells used to be one of his “areas of interest.”  So, I figured we could just harvest a few from his room and string them up off of a piece of old drift wood I had laying around and Viola…a perfect framed activity fit for video!

This idea worked really well.  Sam loved it and I really only have a few comments on this activity!

#1.  We used a hot glue gun for a part of it, and since we had to “do it together, ” he had to used to glue gun 50% of the time.  I have never really trusted him with the glue gun before, even though he’s 14yo.  The response was amazing…I can only guess that the “danger” of the gun (yes…I am a bit of a FREAK about the hot glue gun, esp when the little ones are around) caused him to really pay attention.  But, on that day I handed it over to him and he was extrememly focused on the gun and did not burn himself OR me!!!  He used GREAT eye contact and facial expressions when we handed the gun back and forth to each other, with no prompting from me!  So that = happiness for me!

#2.  This activity was more spontaneous and free flowing than the other framed activities that we have completed.  We had to “create” a pattern of shells and glass beads, and decide which shells were best suited for the mobile.  We had to figure out how to attach the shells to the string.  …Basically, this was not following a recipe out of a cookbook.  We both shared our ideas of how we could do it, and we used a few of his ideas and a few of mine!

We both really enjoyed the activity and he has a great new mobile hanging in his room!  RDI can be really fun for both of us!  We always enjoy our “time” together!

On the PEER FRONT…he still has no close friends.  He is assimilating better though!  He has started participating some in optional study groups in class.  Let me quote what he said, “I am amazed that I found it enjoyable as well as informative!  I think I will do it again next week!”  (can Spock really be AMAZED?)  His teacher commented that he is doing better including other children’s ideas when working of group projects!!!

Small steps every day!  One day, I want him to be able to make a friend without me or his daddy artificially creating the opportunities and encounters.  This kind of thing worked when he was 4yo up until around 9yo, but it does not work at all in Middle School…middle school is rough on the best of us.

Recovery takes time,but forward movement is STILL forward…

Faithfully Yours,

Dr. J

“Do Nothing” …#1 Video

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

As you remember, my first attempt at our new assignment…”Do Nothing” …was a bust.

Okay, so this time, I checked the camera battery (fully charged), the memory card (in and empty), the children (outside and occupied), Sam (not too hungry, not too tired–hahaha..but just right)!  Even the moon and stars were aligned for this video clip!  I had a great activity, fully framed and waiting for us.  I called him down, and we began.

Let me re-cap…the goal of this lesson is for ME to discover the impact that MY pace has on MY interaction with Sam. If the guide becomes too focused on gaining a specific response from the child the guide may move at a faster pace in an effort to GET it, then the apprentice looses the opportunity for discovery.

In this lesson, I am to monitor my pace closely. I supposed to be providing up to 45 seconds of DOING NOTHING for Sam to make key discoveries during moments of disconnect or uncertainty. During this endless 45 seconds of time, I should not be providing any prompting to him as he needs time to think, plan and respond on his own first. OK–simple to grasp– difficult to implement. I am to begin by focusing on my pace during framed activities. Then, I will generalize this throughout the day once I have mastered it a controlled setting.

There is a moment that I am to wait for…I am hoping for it really.  It is the—(drum roll please….) MPU-Moment of Productive Uncertainty- The MPU for me is going to come when things begin to go off track– (my pace is crucial here–patience is not my virtue). When I begin to feel the uh-oh, I’m losing him feeling — I don’t think he’s getting it–I am to do nothing. Simply wait and give him time to process. The MPU is the KEY in this next step.  If I can push him gently into this moment when he’s off-balance, but NOT far enough to trigger a melt down, he is growing in his connectivity!!!  It is the moments of doing nothing in response to a feeling of tension or anxiety that we are striving for!!

So, we began.  Last time, he just barreled ahead and left me standing.  His goal was not to complete the activity with me, but to finish and get back to his legos.  Then, remember, the camera card was full, and beeping, then one of my kids came inside hollering for me, Sam zipped back to his room — the whole activity imploded is so many ways.  He had NO Moments of Productive Uncertainty!

Today was perfect! The whole videoing went seamlessly and when I downloaded it and observed…I was so pleased that I had 2 MPUs!!!  Twice, he was moving on too fast, so I slowed my pace both times.  He got a little lost and started watching my hands to figure out what he was to do next…so… I did nothing!  After 30 seconds he sighed, fidgeted, then ( oh, I was so happy!)…his eyes swept up too my face…he caught my gaze, and then we smiled at each other and proceeded with the activity  The second time, his MPU was even shorter.  He again, got a little ahead, I slowed down, his eyes went to my hands–I waited–he made eye contact, smiled really big (like he got it!), then we proceded!!!

I cannot wait to hear from Jennifer Perry (RDI consultant) and hear her critique!

So Patiently Yours!

Dr. J

RDI–”Do Nothing”

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Wow!!!  I received our new assignment for this week and it is a hard one!


I am supposed to continue to frame activities–just as before– away from the other kids and general distractions…and Sam and I are supposed to participate together, interactively in this activity AND when he gets distracted or off track…  I am supposed to “DO NOTHING!”

If you recall, in my previous assignment, if Sam got off track, I was to NOT verbally prompt him, but instead, I was to clear my throat or use my facial expressions to bring him back into the activity and to encourage him to coordinate with me.  So, that was pretty hard, but he eventually picked up on the program.  His eye contact really has gotten better!  However, the next step is always waiting for me.  NOW, I must just wait and let him “discover” that he must coordinate with me.  So I have to develop patience!!!  Who knew RDI would be so good for ME?  ..hahaha:-)!

I have already tried the new assignment, and it was a bust…the camera card was out of space and kept beeping and was terribly distracting to Sam …after I had framed the activity and all.  Really, I just wanted to finish the activity and not worry about the camera, BUT Sam is very goal oriented, and did not want to “waste time” doing an activity if we only had to repeat the whole thing for a functioning camera!!!!  It made perfect sense to Spock!  Hahaha!  So, there was NO coordination with me, and there was NO increase in my patience level either!

Do Nothing sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  The problem is…I don’t “DO NOTHING” very well and with Sam, I have always had to “DO MORE.”  So, this is me, trying to “BACK OFF” my spectrum child!

Well, I learned something…I will check the camera card before I frame an activity next time:)

Always in the Trenches,

Dr. Girlfriend!

Baby steps…

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

I know you all must think I have fallen off the face of the earth…and I feel like I have!  Two of my kids had a GI virus (one after the other, of course), then I got the BUG, and then we went on Spring Break, at which time my husband had the GI virus!  Wow, what a rough couple of weeks!  You will be happy to know that my Spectrum child, Sam (who takes loads of probiotics and Curcumin everyday) did NOT get the BUG!  Another added benefit for him:-)!

Needless to say…RDI has been at a standstill, but I fully intend on getting the ball rolling this week.  We are ready for our next assignment!

We do see improvement in Sam’s communication abilities.  We went on spring break with 2 other families in our Supper Club, and we were all surprised by how well Sam interacted with the other kids!  He knows them really well, but usually stays more on the periphery while listening to his favorite i tunes music and humming…his favorite stim (well you know, he likes to do what HE likes to do…haha!).  He really was cooperative and interactive with the other teenagers and hung out with them most of the time.  He did peel off from the group for a few hours every day to read, listen to music and be alone…( to decompress as we say!)  We were happy, because he did the best he has ever done and even our friends commented on his improvement!

So, Recovery is a journey of many thousand steps…sometimes baby steps!  So, NEVER give up!


Dr. Girlfriend

My Husband finally submits a Video!

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Now…here is the really great news…my husband finally frames an activity and video tapes the activity AND submits the video for review!

First of all, this whole process of framing and video making and uploading video to the RDI server DOES take a long time, especially if you are a perfectionist.  You have to think of an activity that you can do together and that the adult can actually lead.  Then you have to make two “piles” of supplies.  Then, clear the room of other children or otherwise occupy them (TV?  hahaha!)  Then, get your camera or video system on the lowest quality (for uploading).  I videoed a whole segment in high quality and had to break it into sections and upload separately…very time consuming.  Then, perform the activity with ALL the patience in the world–only thinking of communication and not on the product you are creating (even if it is your dinner and flour is flying everywhere!).  Then upload the clip or clips to the RDI server.  It sounds hard…but once you do the whole process, it DOES got easier every time.

So, I know you all are so curious to hear about my husband’s feedback from Jennifer Perry.

You won’t believe it, but he was fabulous!  He really did NOT talk at all.  He was the perfect Mime!  And had nearly TOTAL control of the activity…now, you must remember, Sam has done this twice with me already, so he is beginning to “figure out” that he must…watch me closely!!  Still, I will praise my husband greatly!  At one point, Sam was barreling ahead, and Sandy just stopped and clasped his hands and waited until Sam noticed and looked at him.  Sam then began to follow him again!

The whole thing was amazing.  They made Chicken Rice Soup.  Sandy had Sam de-bone 1/2 a rotisserie chicken and chop celery, carrots, and garlic.  Plus, we all get to eat a fabulous supper (that I did not cook or clean up after!)  Bonus for me!  Sam was really monitoring Sandy at nearly every step!

Tonight, Sam and I are making Mexican for dinner.  I have been planning for 2 days to make sure I have all the things I will need…including the other 2 children occupied with a sitter.    I have to make one more video with the same directives.  This time, I am to review the video first and give feedback on how I thought it went, then, upload to the RDI server.  If all things go well, we are meeting with Jennifer next week to discuss out progress and receive our next assignment!

At some point, I also have to fit in a few activities with my OTHER children…creating a chariot with Ben out of cardboard and a set of Canopic jars with Katie Belle (all due next Tuesday) stuff:-)!

As always, I will keep you informed of our progress and our next assignment!

Good luck with all your activites this week, and know that I’m in the trenches with you!

Ever Yours,

Dr. Jennifer

Second Try at Guiding

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Okay..we made another attempt at the Guide-Apprentice Relationship on Video!

I felt better at this attempt and my feedback was SOOOO GREAT!  You all will be so proud of ME and Sam.  I was praised for being MORE assertive and taking charge, by my nonverbal actions.  Sam was actually stopped charging forward and gazed at my actions and made brief UNPROMPTED eye contact.  He discovered the value of looking at me, and actually followed my lead for a short period.

I am discovering that the KEY to the Guide-Apprentice relationship is really very simple.  Someone MUST be the effective guide and someone MUST be the observant apprentice.  I will admit to not being a strong effective guide.  I have spent years by Sam’s side, watching and trying to prevent a melt down or any unnecessary stress that could trigger bad behaviors.  He has been used to setting the pace and leading all interactions with me.  Now I have been trying to be a stronger, more assertive guide…on and off the camera.

The key points I am working on for the next video clip is…

1.  Slow down the pace of the activity so that Sam will find it necessary to look at me, or read my body language.

2.  Continue to be more assertive by my body language, letting him know I am in charge.

3.  Limit or stop prompting (my usual mainstay).

By doing these things…HE will discover the value of looking at another person…to gather information from and to give information to others.  This will be true communication!  …as opposed to HIM telling me his needs/wants, or ME interrogating him about his day and feelings.  The way we exchange information now is not true communication.

I am looking forward to a better day!

Your Ever Optimist,

Dr. J

RDI Feedback…

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

OKay!!!  I know you all are interested in the RDI feedback on my first session with Sam in the Kitchen on Video!

First of all, if you don’t know Jennifer Perry, then you are missing out on a lovely and positive person!  She found one really positive interaction between myself and Sam that she praised highly…but it was only for 15 seconds!!!!  But really y’all, for my first time, I thought it was a good start.  :-)

So, for nearly the whole session (over 25 minutes), he was either racing ahead, or “controlling” my arms, or simply doing his own thing.  But for 15 seconds, I cleared my throat, and wrinkled my eyebrows enough to get him to look at me and follow what I was doing.  I was the “guide” and he was the apprentice, and for 15 glorious seconds, he was involved in a “shared” experience with me.  One that I did not verbally prompt!  I’m glad I caught it on video, so I can watch it over and over!

Her evaluation of those 15 seconds was that Sam is discovering the value of looking at me, and that it was his discovery because it was unpromted!  Her advice to me was this…become a more assertive guide in my actions.

I’m glad I have you all to share this with, because people with neurotypical children would not understand what a great 15 seconds this is for me!  I’m setting up for another video session after school today.  I’m basically assigned to do the same thing–anything goes, but make it nonverbal, I’m the guide (be assertive), he’s the apprentice, and I still can not tell him these rules, he is on the road to a discovery…

Yours in quest of recovery,

Dr. Jennifer Duke

RDI–My First Assignment!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Today…I will update you all on my family’s journey with RDI.  We are working with a great RDI Consultant–Jennifer Perry.

The initial parent training and child assessment (the RDA) is now behind us and we have had our first assignment!!!!  YAHHHH!  OKAY…here is what we did over the weekend during the snowy cold weather…

Each parent individually, has been assigned to pick ANY activity to do with Sam, BUT (here’s the catch), we can not talk during the event or tell him what to expect or prepare him in any way.  We CAN use facial expressions and body language, and nonverbal vocal communications as a last resort…hahaha!  I was specifically asked by our RDI consultant to NOT tell him any of the “rules”–so that he could discover them on his own.  This whole discovery concept IS dynamic thinkingThe KEY to RDI!

So, I decided that we could make something in the kitchen.  I got the recipe and divided all ingredients into two sets…his set and my set.  I had about 7 bowls on my side of the counter and (of course) 7 bowls on his side.  We looked like we were at Kitchen Stadium with the video camera set up too!!!  We were assigned to add the SAME INGREDIENTS into the mixer at the SAME TIME.  Sam is supposed to watch me, and observe which bowl I choose (because I specifically did not put them in order), and how much content I put in at a time.

OKAY…so here’s what really happened!  You may laugh WITH me, but not At me! hahaha!  He started picking up bowls and dumping stuff in the mixer..of course!  Then I had to “scowl” my eyebrows and face (which he did not notice).  He started charging ahead more…I had to shake my head (he did not notice).  He turned on the mixer and dry contents started flying up and out of the bowl…I then tried a nonverbal vocal communication (already at my last resort:-)–”uhhuhh” and he looked at me then and said,” are you talking to me?”  I smiled and shook “yes!” loudly!  then, I did the whole, raise my shoulders and head and eyebrows and pointed to the next ingredient and then indicated a WAIT sign with my hands together and lifted to a stop position.  I pointed to all the bowls and stopped at the next one, picked it up and waited on him–he was no longer looking at me, but had the right bowl in his eager hands.  He dumped in all its contents and set the bowl down and LOOKED at me.  I had to indicated approval with my face, so I smiled.  I also had to indicate that he still was not doing exactly what I wanted/needed him to do, which was to add the ingredients AT THE SAME TIME AND SPEED AS ME.  You see, I am supposed to be in charge of time and speed, and he is supposed to be MATCHING to me and WATCHING me and FOLLOWING me.    So now, I started to slow even more and to even turn my back on him to indicate that I was not ready to restart the activity.  He began to get a little frustrated.  At this point, he actually grabbed my shoulders and swiveled me around, and took my forearms and went to the one remaining bowl and (my arms and hands were like a crane picking up freight, but under his control)   picked up the last bowl.  Then, he let me go and picked up his last bowl–which was already empty, I may add!  Then, we poured together on his eyebrow raise and head tilted–so, he was getting the concept that we had to DO IT TOGETHER, but missing the concept that I was in charge.  Meanwhile, I had a facial scowl of disapproval.  He poked his fingers to the corners of my mouth and made my lips smile, then he hugged me, turned and left the scene…WHEEEW!!!

I was exhausted!  I cleaned up while my husband was uploading the video to the RDI website.  We looked at the video and evaluated the “movie clip.”

What did I learn?  What did Sam learn?

I really thought this would be a snap.  I could not believe what a disaster it turned out to be.  He used me like a tool.  It brought me back to his toddler years, when he would to take my hand and point my finger to what he wanted, and then use my hand to pick it up and give it to himself…or use  my hand to turn pages of a book…etc…  I thought about all the hard work my husband and I have done all these years.  But mostly (I realized NOW) has consisted of teaching “turn taking” and “waiting” on his turn.  He used to take every one’s turn, roll the dice for all players, move all pieces, and pull all cards.  He will now wait for his turn pretty regularly.  But, I NEVER worked on completing activities TOGETHER.  I thought I was “doing” things together—but now I realize we were doing activities side by side or turn taking–which is really independent play with pauses for the other player.

This cooperative activity is a whole new level of communication and interaction.  I also learned that I was right to sign up for RDI.  I do not know everything rigth to do.  I may know biomedical treaments, but I need help from an expert on RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT for my child. 

I did not even know what I did not know—does that make sense?  And I do not know how to help Sam on my own.

Now, I’m waiting for Jennifer Perry’s response to the video upload.  She is very sweet and positive, so I know she will not say, “what a disaster!”  But that is how I feel right now.

I’l let you know her response ASAP!  I’m excited though, to be at least trying to make progress!!!!  I can not WAIT for my husband to do his video!  Is that mean of me?  :-) !!!

Yours in the journey,

Dr. JDuke

Out of the Parent Training phase!

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Hello everyone!

My husband and I have finally made it out of the Parent Training Phase of RDI, and it feels great!  Now, we can start working on our child!

The parent training has been really tough on me and my husband, because it held a magnifying glass up to our parenting styles (in a very constructive way, of course) in order to better improve our skill set.  We have always thought we were doing a good job with Sam, but NO ONE is born with the skill set to successfully handle a child on the spectrum with out guidance…and these wonderful children do not come with instructions!  I really feel like I understand his actions and reactions better AND how my actions and reactions help or hurt him with his resilience and attaining life skills.

The next phase is for both parents to video tape our interactions with Sam one on one.  I have to video–just the two of us–interacting (cooking or playing a game or any regular activity around the house).  Then, I must upload the video to the RDI- operating systems website myself.  The idea is that I need to be able to do all the steps without my husband’s help, so I do not have to depend on anyone else!!!  Okay, I can do that!

Then, we have our next appointment with our RDI consultant (Jennifer Perry) in January, so that she can further test Sam and fine tune his program by targeting his weak areas.

No one will love your child and fight for your child like you will.  I have heard so many stories of courageous mothers and fathers improving and recovering their spectrum children by NEVER giving up!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year AND Happy Holidays!  Have fun over the next few weeks and relax.  Try not to overstimulate yourself OR your child…Doctor’s Orders!  …hahaha!


Dr. Girlfriend

Dynamic Communication

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I Love RDI!

Today, I learned about Dynamic Communication.

Communication is really about building bridges or connections between our minds.  We use many forms of communication and verbal is just one form.  My son has plenty of words and scripts, but, he does not really communicate with me or anyone else for that matter.  He and I do not really have “shared” experiences like I have with other people or even my other kids.  When I talk with Sam, I explain someting, and then he talks for a while, then I talk for a while, then he sort of wanders away from me in mid diolague, humming to himself.  I realize now, that he has already “ended” the conversation.  There is little “back and forth” with Sam, and certainly no “shared experience.”  Does this sound familiar????

How is communication supposed to work?

Dynamic Communication is really about what we think and feel IN RELATION to what our partner thinks and feels.  In a conversation, typically, we are constantly shifting and re-assessing the shared experience based on gestures, facial expression, and non-verbal vocalizations (hmmm or ahhh) AND words spoken.  There are multiple channels to “speak” through and to interpret, and it all happens simultaneously.  Also, the process is fragile and imperfect–which makes it unpredictable and challenging and frustrating!

Why does it breakdown?

True communication is very complicated, frustrating and unpredictable.  There will be breakdowns.  No one communicates effectively 100% of the time.  Our spectrum kids get easily overwhelmed and withdraw.  Our kids need resilience and a much slower pace than our neurotypical kids.

This type of communication is a lot to ask our children to learn, but is is what RDI is all about.  Communication is social, emotional, and it is based on cognition and problem solving and flexibility.  I know that my relationships with my other two children are much deeper and richer than my relationship with Sam.  I also know that I “put in” more effort, more time, more patience–more everything with Sam than any other relationship I have (he puts in little effort with any of his relationships)–Why is he so one-sided with his relationships?  …because he does not have the capacity to SHARE in the fullness of a richly communicated conversation.  He must not “see” all the ways people communicate with him non-verbally PLUS, he must does not communicate that way either.  Therefore, the conversation is more scripted than fluid.  Hmmmm….

So…communication is what I want to work on with Sam!  RDI makes it easy by breaking tasks down and working on small bits at a time.  More to come!