Wednesday, April 18, 2007

RDI Parent Training

I've never been accused of being anything less than transparent, so I don't suppose I'll start now. There were some good and some bad things about yesterday's training and I'm going to share it all. This is likely going to be a long post.

We were the first couple of four to arrive. There was another couple who have a little boy, a female pedatrician and her mother (her husband was out of town) who have a boy who's a few years older than Reece, a couple from the same neighborhood as my friend H who have a teenage daughter, and then us. All of the children are high functioning, PDD-NOS, or Aspergers.

We started off by introducing ourselves and then went right into an overview of autism and RDI. This is where it all went wrong for me. It came with this statement, which I am desperately trying to understand:

This was on one of the power point slides about the proposed pathogenesis of ASDs:

Threshold of neurological vulnerabilities leads to:
Breakdown of parent-child continuous feedback (Intersubjective Relationship), which leads to:
Loss of Dynamic Learning Opportunities, which leads to:
Failure to Develop Dynamic Intelligence and Motivation, which leads to:
Neural Underconnectivity, which contributes to:
Failure to develop Dynamic Intelligence and Motivation

Now, to quote Barbossa, thems mighty big words, and we're not but humble pirates here at the Black Pearl Academy. But it hit me as placing blame on us as parents for the kids having autism. I asked more about it from the consultant and she said, "It's not your fault. You didn't know." Well, to me, that's not absolving anyone of responsibility.

I'm going to pause here for a moment and explain something: when Austin was a baby and toddler, my mom used to tell me that the reason he had such a hard time with change and doing things differently was because I had him on a schedule. A schedule meaning I fed him at the same times and put him down for naps at the same times, and because he didn't sleep well out of the house, I would come home for naptime. Mom said it was because I did this, that was why he didn't sleep well away from home and why he resisted change. As he got older, I was given a number of parenting books, esp. from people at church, and people would say if I would do this book, Austin would act right. As he got even older, and was still having tantrums, people would tell me that 'their husbands would never tolerate that'. As if we did. Lots of blame... if I was a better parent or if I did things better, he wouldn't act the way he did. To say it hurt, is an understatement. As I've realized over the last 18 months or so, it has shaped and defined how I see myself as a parent. And when the doctor diagnosed them with autism and declared "It's not your fault" it was the beginning of trying to see myself as not a failure as a parent.

So then, we start this training... what I have been having in my head as THE ANSWER... and now they are telling me again that it's my fault. It was hard to focus on the rest of the training with this in my head. I mentioned it to the consultant and before we left yesterday afternoon, she encouraged me not to see it as blame. When I got home last night, I emailed a friend of mine who is very active in RDI and has been working with a consultant for years, and she tried to explain that it didn't mean blame. Russ tried to explain it to me, too. (My friend A has been helping me today too, and I'm starting to see it in a different way, but I'm still not all the way there).

After the run-through of the RDI terminology, we started working on our "Mission Previews" which is a snapshot of how we would like to see the kids in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. We only had time to work on the rough draft for the first one of Reece. We'll complete these during the assessment process.

She introduced the concepts of declarative v. imperative communication, and we practiced these. This was pretty easy for us, since we've been working on that for a number of months already. Then we moved on to a few concepts that I had read about on the RDI message boards but had not understood very well: scaffolding, framing, and spotlighting. We will learn more about those things after the assessments, when we start workng on the objectives with the kids.

It was alot of information, and even though some of it was familiar to me, it was still overwhelming! It seems like so much to learn and how to make it happen naturally and in our lifestyle seems like it will take forever! I am not very creative at all when it comes to finding new ways of doing things, and that will be a challenge for me: taking a concept or objective and finding a way to make it apply and be meaningful to Austin or Reece. I guess that's what the consultant it for! ;)

They have an RDI parent support group once a month, and she said that a few months ago they took all of the kids bowling together! I hope we'll be able to make it to the support group a few times. The consultant told me she would put me in touch with a few families who use RDI with two children, so I can find out how they manage. She didn't mention putting in me in touch with a homeschooling family, so I assume I'm her only one. I have a feeling that she's either not well-organized, or she just has so many families she's working with that she's overwhelmed. The consultant in training we will be working with said she would email us last night to get us started on finding times to do the assessments, but so far, I don't have any emails from her. And it appears nobody watched the baseline DVDs we worked so hard to get out. I'm trying to be patient and laid-back, but I will have to mention this if it continues. Also, we didn't get any time alone with the constultant or the CIT who we will be working with. I only spoke with the consultant alone for a few minutes after the meeting was over, to give her the kids reports that she wanted. That is when she encouraged me not to dwell on the whole 'breakdown in parent/child relationship' thing. She has still not charged our credit card for the deposits though, so I'm just going to assume she's not well-organized/busy. That will be really hard for me! LOL I can understand busy, but this is her job! I can't understand not well-0rganized! ;)

So overall, I would have left feeling better had it not been for the beginning part. I plan to look over my notes this weekend and try to get working on these mission previews. I'm hoping that it helps me get passed the upset, and focus on what I still think could be a really good thing for my kids.

1 comment: said...

Nifferco, I have been doing RDI
for a while, Dr. G. does in NO way blame the parents. But because of autism, our children do not participate in the feedback loop that most NT children give us and we do not know how to help them. RDI changes that! that is all that that means.
NOT the old refrigerator mother junk!