Sunday, February 28, 2010

RDI: a Do Over

A quote I read in Chapter 8 of The RDI Book has me really thinking. It involves the breakdown of the natural Guided Participation Relationship between child and parent that happens in ASD (RDI is about re-establishing that GPR and giving the child a "Do 0ver" in the areas of development that the child missed the first time, mostly involving dynamic thinking and problem solving).

"Both child and caregivers seek sameness and accumulation rather than discovery, integration, and expansion. Don't rock the boat because the pervasive motto by which families survive. Parents lose their intuitive ability and wind up becoming more ineffective." (p. 141)

Before you assume (as I did when we first started RDI in 2007) that Dr. Gutstein is blaming parents for their child's ASD, allow me to share this quote from earlier in the same chapter.

"The developmental failure leading to ASD is not due to any environmental event. Nor is it the result of any action or deficit in the parents. The competence of parents, no matter how great, cannot compensate for the vulnerabilities with which these children are born." (p. 131)

But I continue to be like the parents that Dr. Gutstein goes on to describe on p. 141:

"These parents will tell you that they recognize that they didn't cause their child's ASD. However, when interviewed during their initial sessions, all will admit that they often feel like failures."

I know I didn't cause Austin or Reece to have autism, though sometimes it's hard not to feel that way, especially with Austin. But that's not going to help them. I've got to let it go somehow. It's been almost 4.5 years since Reece was diagnosed, and nearly 4 years since Austin's.

But I do feel like a failure, and that's harder for me to overcome. When the kids were diagnosed, I immediately went into research mode and discovered the different treatment options out there. The behavioral models did not appeal to me, because I didn't see how they would help with the real problems that my kids were having. They could learn behaviors and rules with no problem. But the rules didn't help. It was abundantly clear when Austin took a social skills class when he was first diagnosed - and it actually set him BACK in terms of meaningful interaction because they had taught him "rules" and when he tried to interact with kids following the "rules" and they didn't answer back in the correct way, he would just keep repeating himself waiting for them to follow the "rule". Then several different people, IRL and online, pointed me toward RDI.

We started with a consultant, and I documented that experience here on my blog. That experience didn't work out. The consultant and our family just didn't mesh well. That happens, I guess. Unfortunately, our financial resources were drained in the process. And as a result, I lost confidence in RDI completely. It didn't help that RDI has been extremely hard for me to grasp. It's very contradictory to my personality. It was easy to avoid it because it made me feel so incompetent. It was easier not to "rock the boat".

But I have got to find a way to overcome that and to change as much of myself as is necessary to help my children. The bottom line is that I do believe that the RDI theory and methods of GPR are the best chance my children have at a quality of life. Austin is almost 14 years old... it's not too late, but time is not on our side!!

So now I, too, need a Do Over. I have wonderful friends (in my computer LOL) who have been willing to help me learn and understand RDI better. It's part of the reason I'm now reading The RDI Book, a publication that came out after we stopped working with a consultant. And since I process better when I write things out, you'll be seeing a return to autism discussion here on my blog. I will obviously continue to update on the homeschooling, especially as I attempt to use a more Guided Participation format with our lessons. (Assuming I can figure out exactly what that looks like in practice! Hee hee)

I would greatly appreciate your prayers and good thoughts as we resume this very important and challenging work with our children.


Kathy said...

I totally agree and I also tend to process things better when I write things out! Loved your reflections on the Do over process....and your honesty, to which we all can relate to those feelings of incompetence!! You are such a fantastic Mom!
Definitely will be praying for tons of discoveries through this process!!!

The Glasers said...

What a GREAT post!! You illustrate very well how RDI is not about changing the kid but about thinking about the family dynamics and altering parenting style, which requires thought, mindfulness, understanding theory, etc.

You are not a failure. While RDI comes easily to me, my more flexible, go-with-the-flow parenting style did not change the fact that Pamela has autism!

Sadie said...

You know you're always in my thoughts and prayers!

argsmommy said...

I could have written this post. : ) RDI does not come naturally for me either. I was just starting to feel like I understood things when we found out we needed a new consultant. That was almost a year ago, and we still have not found a new consultant, partly because of what you said: "it was easy to avoid..." Right now we're focusing on some sensory issues, and hopefully will formally start RDI again later this year. I look forward to hearing about your progress.


Chef Penny said...

I love your honesty here! I know it's hard but you can do it!!!! AND I admire you for doing it again after the other fiasco!! I don't know if I could do that. You know I love you like a fat kid loves cake so I will pray without ceasing for your family. You are an awesome mom!

Lisa said...

His mercies are new every morning! Great is His faithfulness. Thankfully, He allows us to have a Do-Over. I need one too.