Category Archives: Updates

Been so Busy with Summer!

We haven’t been RDI-ing as much as we should since we’ve been in lazy summer mode.  We’ve pretty much mastered our most recent Child objective where Zip and I have been working on pattern regulation so that’s very very exciting. I’ve been giving him more of a role in the patterns and he’s been mostly handling it quite well. We can see him thinking and considering what we’re doing. Wonderful!

Since I’ve last blogged, we’ve had some real changes.

Zip is pointing much more and checking in with us for our reaction. Back when he was a wee 15 months old, I googled “child not pointing” and got the shock of my life when autism came up as the number one answer.  While that was the start of this long and complicated journey for us, I still remember that unexpected and scary moment.

Oh, how little we knew. It seems like I can just barely remember how we were then, like I’m peering backwards into a telescope. We look so young and unaware. Of course we were crazy sleep-deprived but we did not know how much more our lives were going to change, to veer off the path of normal childhood. I knew absolutely nothing about autism and next to nothing on brain and child development. I trusted my instincts when it came to my child and we were in an evaluation within a month or two, and then began private speech therapy. We waited six months for a developmental evaluation that led to Early Intervention.  We tried several types of standard therapies and an ABA preschool. Eventually we found RDI and finally feel like we are making progress, that we know where we are heading. Continue reading

Yo Gabba Gabba Moment

Hope you don’t have too many of those! Anyway, Zip and I were playing with some Yo Gabba Gabba stuffed toys. I was doing most of the work, being silly, and making funny noises with them. Zip had added “Sh” with his finger to his lips while giggling. Then he took the character’s hand and put it to it’s mouth while saying it. My heart be still – is that a little pretend play I’m seeing? <big grin>
It was a nice moment. Key to Me had worked with puppets with Zip and mentioned to me that he had participated some, but this was the first time I had seen it in action. So cute!

Some Zip on the Computer Notes

It’s sometimes funny to see how Zip controls the inputs he receives. He has a hand-me-down computer in my home office. It’s full of preschool and kindergarten games, and locked down with a whitelist for the internet. (I forgot to lock it once and he had a blast at YouTube. is a good alternative.) He plays the same things over and over again but seems to be learning from it, so we’re okay with it.

A few weeks back, I checked out what he was doing and he had the Windows Start menu and other directories open, covering most of the Starfall word game he was playing. (We love  StarFall – the extra paying section is worth it.) It looked so strange. I closed the boxes, thinking that he had just hit a bunch of keys by accident. Then, he did it again.

I was puzzled. He can’t tell me why he would cover parts of his game. He doesn’t do it everytime, just once in a while, mostly in a word-building game. My theory is that he is controlling and decreasing his inputs. Maybe it’s sensory? Continue reading

More Patterns – Quick Update

We’ve learned the hard way that if you do the same thing in the same way, Zip will think that’s the only way and protest any changes. He gets stuck on certain things, like the same two pairs of fleece pajamas, even though before that he would only wear green cotton airplane pajamas. This may seem like pattern recognition but it’s just the autistic tendancy towards rigid thinking. Since we prefer him to have a more flexible approach to life, we try to change things up.

When I sat down with him today to do the “me-you-put” activity with the squares in the jar, I chose a different container. Very different. I had an empty bead box with small compartments and we put as many squares as would fit into each space. He adapted great, sat for the whole thing. At the end we had a cute colorful filled box. It gave us a nice ending point, too. I only wish he would pay more attention when I take a turn, but I’m sure that will come.

Beginning Pattern Recognition and Dynamic Listening

We had a great week last week. Zip is feeling so much more guid-able. Is that a word? Perhaps I should define it. Just in the last few weeks, Zip has begun listening to me, doing what I say, staying near me when we’re out. It’s a remarkable change. I have to chalk it up to Dynamic Listening.

Briefly, my son goes to Key to Me three times a week and listens to classical music over headphones while doing a bit of OT. But the magic is inside the music. Dr. Alfred Tomatis developed a theory that certain tones influence regions of the brain. Our therapist  customizes tones for him based on his evaluation and progress. We definitely saw changes since we began this program 5 months ago. We just finished and will go see them for an evaluation next month.

As this program is pricey, I was really hoping to see changes that would help me establish the guiding relationship with Zip. He’s been very resistant to any form of guiding, always struggling to maintain control of most interactions. While Dynamic Listening made a big change in lots of little ways, including his newfound ability to explore and get into things, it hadn’t really affected our GPR. Continue reading

Regulation, Baby Steps

I’ve been thinking hard about our new objective, which is basically getting Zip comfortable with a simple pattern, changing it slightly, letting him re-engage, rinse and repeat… The hardest part so far is getting him to recognize a pattern. I’ve been doing it informally around the house. If I sat him down in our RDI room, a distraction-free zone, it might be easier. But, I feel more pressured to “perform” RDI there and get frustrated more easily. So, I’m easing into, just playing around with the idea, seeing how Zip reacts, just figuring it out a bit.

Here’s some areas where I’ve worked on it, today and yesterday:

    • Putting laundry into the dryer
      Somewhat successful – sometimes when I  changed how I handed him the clothes, he just ignored me and reached into the washer and got one out himself.  But I felt a few moments of connection. I felt good because I was very aware of the RDI I was doing and not so focused on the goal.
    • At the dining room table with the Viewmaster
      Not successful – he didn’t pay any attention to what I was doing
    • Putting plastic eggs into a bucket

Very successful. He seemed to like this one, and stayed with me for this several times recently.

I’m also going to check our copy of  Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready. I think it has some ideas that might be fun to try.

Obstacles to Guiding

Key to RDI is developing a Guided Participation Relationship between the parent and child. The GPR is the primary means by which parents raise their children and equip them to deal with life and impart their culture to them. Through a GPR with your child, you work on the different objectives and developmental stages of RDI.

Barbara Rogoff’s book, Apprenticeship in Thinking, provides a thorough explanation of how GPR occurs across cultures and its components. It was an excellent read that made me think analytically about this essential area that my son had missed.

So that’s where we would like to be, but we’re not. Common to many children on the autism spectrum, my son, while loving and social, feels he must retain control of his environment to prevent unpleasant surprises and manage his inputs. It’s probably a bit more complicated than that but that is part of it.

His need for rigid control of us and his environment is incompatible with a GPR with us. In a webinar I attended, Dr. Gutstein, the founder of RDI, described the process of getting to a GPR as putting the child in the most optimal situation for guiding and figuring out what is getting in the way (my paraphrase). Continue reading

Status Update 2012-04-11

So here’s where we are right now… Zip is just beginning his 4th and final loop of Dynamic Listening (more on that later). We’re continuing with RDI though it’s been frustrating. Today, I signed Jamie up for a new Virtual Charter School for next fall. We’ll see if we get a spot and how that goes.

Eventually I’ll do the obligatory “What is RDI” post. Suffice it to say that Relationship Development Intervention is a developmental therapy we’re using to help my son become a more flexible and dynamic thinker and problem-solver, able to handle  myriad challenges throughout his life. For more info, visit the official RDI site.