"My approach to intervention is rooted in respect for child development and focuses on making the mundane meaningful, looking at daily interactions as opportunities for learning and growth while respecting the uniqueness of the individual and family. It’s about setting high expectations for long term quality of life and relationships for individuals on the spectrum and implementing a specific and doable plan to get there one step at a time.”
– Lauren Wilson, LCSW, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quotable Sundays

"We are not going to sweep away all the support, but we are going to dismantle it piece by piece as we transfer the competence and responsibility to the child."

Helen O'Callaghan

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fixed & Growth Mindsets

I've long been an avid reader of Carol Dweck's research.  I see how nicely her ideas dovetail with remediation programs.  It has certainly been my experience than a measurable shift takes place in an individual with autism's program when we begin to see that shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.

Some of my favorite research of hers has been on Praise and Motivation.  The first article I read about this was here, The Power (and Peril) or Praising Your Kids.  The following is a video that also summarizes the research (though I have to say, I like the article a better).

Quotable Sundays

“Those who know how to think need no teachers.” - Ghandi

It's amazing when we see a child discover a new way of thinking or seeing the world.  They have ownership over it and need little to no direction.  This discovery of a thought process (the why bother) is so much different than the discovery of a skill outside of thought.  Without the thought and context behind a discovery you are always in need of a teacher to remind you to use the skill.  This may be sufficient for the short term... long term though, my do we want to see thinkers!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogs I Follow

On the left hand side you'll notice that there are a few blogs that I follow.  I think one of the most wonderful things about the internet, is the ease in which we can now connect with networks of support.  Recently, one of my most favorite blogs shared a particularly moving post from a guest author.

The story and video are moving.
Ely and Mum Laura

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forging New Pathways Blog

This blog is guest authored about once a week by a host of RDI Program Certified Consultants and parents.

This week's blog had a few helpful and practical tips.

Give it a look see, Building Pathways Through RDI

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quotable Sundays

Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.
M. Scott Peck

And to this I must add, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

One step at a time, always.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spotlight the Problem not the Solution

Being an effective guide is 95% mindset and 5% what you actually do.  Our mindset and point of view are the roots from which all decisions are made.  When I’m given a mere hour or half day to try to explain in a meaningful and practical way what RDI is, I focus on a simple phrase that encompasses a guiding mindset.

Spotlight the Problem, Not the Solution

            Guides recognize that learning, and from there competence, comes with doing.  It comes with struggling, thinking, failing and succeeding.  Guides recognize their ability to make the most of regular ole’ interactions when they focus on spotlighting problems rather than solutions.

            Bear with me during this illustration.  Consider the following two phrases.  Imagine them being said to you.

            “Pick it up and put it here.”
            “This is hard to figure out!”

            This is kind of hokey, but literally feel your brain working as each is said.  “Pick it up and put it here.”  What’s your brain doing?  Right, not too much; it’s pretty much basic compliance.  A great skill to have no doubt, yet as a guide we know how limiting this can be for real world application.

            How about the latter?  “This is hard to figure out!”  What’s your noggin’ doing now?  It’s really trying to work something out.  It’s refocusing on the problem, slowing down.  It’s doing some dynamic thinking.

            Consider the relationship that would grow out of the two phrases.  One could perhaps be characterized by a director and actor, ever in need of direction.  The other guiding.

Here are a few more examples.  Notice how the focus changes from the solution to the problem and the effect it has on the relationship and what learning and opportunities will happen next.

“Say Hi Daddy”
“There’s Daddy!”
“Pick it up.”
“Oh no!”
“Sit down.”
“Circle time.”
“Try again.”
“This is just not working.”
“Good job!”
“We’re doing it!”

            Providing solutions rob individuals of the chance to make those dynamic problem solving connections that we so want them to have.  Providing solutions can also give a false sense of the true abilities of an individual. 

            No where was this more evident to me than during an observation of a first grader.  It was reported to me that he could independently manage classroom routines and a paraprofessional was probably no longer necessary.  In a 3 minute period of my observation I counted how many solutions he was given.  I could barely keep up with the tallies.  In three minutes he was given over 40 solutions.  “Write your name.” “Erase, you need capitals.” “Push in your chair.” “Go to carpet.”  “Cross your legs.” “Raise your hand.” And on and on and on.  Many were given within a second of other children performing the action and often repeated more than once.  I cringe just remembering, and acknowledging that I was once that solution focused voice on quick repeat.

            I offered the paraprofessional a much needed break and sat back and truly observed.  The class moved along and he sat falling farther and farther behind.  He had no ownership over any of the learning that had been taking place.  He had been complying on auto pilot failing to take note of his role in his own actions.  Solutions had been given and therefore his dynamic problem solving abilities remained stagnant.

Spotlight the problem, not the solution.”

            After modeling, practice, adjusting work load and figuring out what his unique processing time was, we put this mindset into practice.  The goal was no longer for him move along, it was to see his wheels turning; to see him practice dynamic thinking.  And think he did. 

            This change in mindset is big and it is hard to do.  When we see someone struggling for a solution our mirror neurons (http://video.pbs.org/video/1615173073) fire rapidly.  We literally feel them struggling and are pulled to relieve that tension by providing a solution.  And then, seemingly overnight it becomes an automatic response.  Before we know it we’re anticipating the problem and providing the solution before the child even recognizes it.  We become the solution managers instead of the opportunity givers, decreasing rather than increasing our child’s ability to function in the world.  We wind up doing all the dynamic thinking work for our children who need the most practice at it.

            We know that change in possible, and it starts with us, the guides providing an environment where dynamic thinking can thrive.  Start by taking time to do… well, nothing.  Slow down.  Observe your child, you’re looking for their edge of competence and that’s a moving target.  What I find most often is that folks are surprised by what problems their child can solve on their own.  What competence building moments for our children!    

            Opportunities (problems) will start to arise.  Shoes will be lost.  Zippers will get stuck.  Play ideas will make one person happy and not the other.  Your turn will be skipped.  As you slow down you’ll see your child resolve many of them leaving you an opportunity to spotlight their competence.  Others will loom larger and you’ll see the solution and want to blurt it out immediately. 

Hold that thought. 

It’s in this moment that your child needs you to guide them.  To scaffold, what you see so clearly.  Clarify theproblem” for them; guide them in the right direction.  You might have to do this more than once.  That’s ok.  What’s important is you leave that room, no matter how small, for your child to discover the solution.  And who knows, it might be better than the one you had in mind! J

Spotlight the problem, not the solution.”

Here are a few more examples to consider
Child takes your turn while playing         
Give “the look” and smile
It is taking longer than expected and you can see it on your child’s face
“This is taking a loooong time!”
Shoes are lost.
“I forget where we found them last time.”
There are 2 cookies and three people.
“Hrmm, this is a problem.”
Child looks hungry.
“I think we skipped snack today.”
Look forward to hearing your examples and experiences.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quotable Sundays

"If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." ~Lawrence J. Peter

And that's not always a bad thing, unless you're out of milk.

It can be a difficult balance to know when to hold tight to our original plan of an activity and when to let go and see where you will end up. My best advice, give them both a try. Having always and never rules never always work. ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is RDI?

This is a common question, and even after five years of being certified in the program, I have to admit I sometimes struggle to fit into a concise sentence, because on the one hand, it is so very very simple and on the other so very difficult.

What is RDI?  Applying typical development to kiddos for whom this has been a challenge.  

RDI Parents are often pleasantly surprised to find that there are no secret strategies to employ.  It's all the things parents are naturally amazing at, reading their child, providing safe challenging opportunities for growth, spotlighting memories and transferring wisdom.  The trick is doing all these amazing things at a slow, deliberate and individualized pace for their child on the spectrum.

It also seems most helpful to be able to "see" RDI.  Amy Cameron and a wonderful family of hers have provided a window into the world of an RDI family.

A quick search of RDI on youtube has many more examples by brave families who have put their learning out there for others to see.