Saturday, April 28, 2007

Small Victories

Yesterday I got back from my trip and the house was a little chaotic. Henry spent most of the afternoon running away from Rosie and me, exiting a room almost as soon as we entered. We did all three play for a little while in his room, though nothing spectacular. After I put Rosie to bed around 7, I tried to tempt Henry down to the activity room to do some mountain building. He was psyched to have a little "alone-time" with Mommy, but very NOT into do anything together. Truthfully, I was too tired to fight about it, so I just quietly left the room and slowly walked outside and sat in the yard. My assumption was that Henry would just hang out inside, stimming off some book or something until I came back in, but little did I know about three minutes later he came outside and slowly made his way to join me on the lawn. It was great to see that he was actually seeking me out, instead of just playing on his own! We proceeded to practice blowing dandelions all over the lawn (I'm sure Aaron will be happy about that), until Henry's uncle, aunt, and cousin showed up for a visit.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

So Far, So Good

I've been spending my time with Henry this week really trying to get down this whole "RDI Language" thing. Not sure if that's a coined term but that's what I'll use to refer to the no questions, no direct commands, abbreviated, slowed down, and likely something else I forgot type of language.

He's seemed to be reacting positively to our interactions. There are a few times where I get stumped on how to phrase something without making it into a question but I'm getting better as the week progresses. I'm not trying to jump the gun here but he has said a few pretty cool appropriate words/phrases this week... asking is grandma for "chicken" while being driven home from the sitters yesterday afternoon (referring to Popeyes) and this evening, being especially OCD, wanting all the lights in the house off, he said "just turn the lights off". Now I know that there's more to communication that just speech, especially when it's to get ones way but still... pretty cool, I must say. Not sure where this lights off thing is coming from. Maybe Theresa has the kids eat in the dark... I'm not sure. Anyway, like I said... don't want to declare an "RDI miracle" but it's been a while since I've been witness to any even moderately significant language from the kid so I thought I'd make note.

Here are some examples of some RDI-ish things that we're doing in our morning routine:


  • instead of "what do you want for breakfast?" it's "I bet you're hungry"... then grabbing the box of raisin bran, getting his attention, and giving him the "how-bout-it eye".
  • variations of... pouring the cereal in a bowl and waiting until he catches my eye and says "milk" and "spoon" or just setting the cereal box on the table and I say "we're missing something" and wait until he says "bowl". Sometimes he just gets the bowl or spoon himself without saying anything.
  • most of the time I'll do a hand-over-hand when pouring the cereal and milk.
Getting Dressed/Brushing Teeth

  • instead of "take your pants off, take your shirt off" I'm making a motion like I'm pulling down my pants, etc.
  • instead of laying out his clothes, I'm throwing each item at him one at a time.
  • to get him to brush his teeth, instead of saying "brush teeth" I say, "your teeth are dirty". He hasn't really caught on to that one yet, perhaps this is because he doesn't literally have any dirt in his teeth (as far as I know).

In other news, I took Henry to a stock car race on Saturday night at the local track. He LOVED it but was stemming his brains out the whole time and I can see why, because it was very cool. But a this point in the process, I wonder if it's advised to expose him to that much stimulation. Just wondering...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday, April 24th - 1/2 hour

Today was a good day for Henry, despite his allergies being terrible. After Rosie went to bed, we were able to do a few activities together. I also tried to facilitate a game with Rosie - though i'm not sure how good of an idea that is at this point. We have this stuffed animal frog who's mouth zips open. Rosie would hand me the frog and i would fill it with some "surprise", then zip it back up and she would carry it to Henry. We would make a big deal about the anticipation, saying "boy, i wonder what the frog ate?" Henry would get really excited and then unzip and exclaim what he ate - i tried to throw in some funny things like the phone and Rosie's bottle. It was kinda a neat game, though not sure how RDIish it was - any suggestions on expanding on it?

Cutting strawberries - we did this in the activity room (i guess that's the name i'll use for the room we cleared out and made distraction-less.) This was cool, b/c it was a revision on the carrot-peeling activity...this time i brought in two bowls - one for the tops and one for the rest of the berries. Henry was great with this, understood his role right away, did a lot of referencing and wasn't thrown off at all when i did something weird, like hand him the strawberry and top in a different order, or hand them to him both at the same time. Once in awhile he threw it in the wrong dish, and i would make a surprised sound and he would immediately know that something was amiss, and he would fix it. This game went well.

Building a mountain - He was really into this game tonight. After we had built the mountain, i did the "jumping on the mountain" part. This became a critical part of the game, because i used this to see how "in sync" we were. After we had jumped once and high-fived for the good job we did together, i walked back over to the other side of the room quietly and put my hands out to see if he would join me. it took about a minute, but he finally got it (without any words from me) and came over. we jumped again. i would pause for effect on the "ready set...go" part and he was right there with me looking in my eyes for the was great! The third time i walked very slowly toward the other side of the room...saying nothing but looking for him out of my peripheral vision. He walked along-side me! we did this about two more times with our motions in was so cool. When we had first started building the mountain, he was rushing ahead of me and still jumping on the bed too soon - but it was amazing with a little patience and his defined role, how he finally fell into sync.

i'll be traveling for work for the next three days so won't be able to write again til the weekend.

First activities post-RDA3

Tried to keep in mind our main objectives during these activities:
  1. What is the pattern?
  2. What is Henry's role?
  3. Keep Henry close, don't let go!
  4. Fewer words
  5. Slow it down!
Sunday, April 22nd (½ hour) - it was a busy Sunday so not much RDI done!
- Worked on activities with Henry for about ½ hour, in 10 minute increments. Henry loves the "building the mountain" game, so it is not hard to motivate him for that. He was very responsive and the connection was good.
- created a new activity moving laundry from washer to dryer. Henry’s defined role is to receive the wet piece of clothing I hand him and then throw it in the dryer. He immediately understood his role and started to reference me for a yes or no nod to throw into the dryer…however, after several items he would get restless and start to lose focus. More than a few times, he would get anxious and throw the piece of clothing in before I gave an affirmative head nod. When I acted surprised and upset, he did NOT retrieve the piece and I had to hand-over-hand retrieve it with him. Once we seemed to get in the flow, I tried to throw a few curve balls and drop a piece on the floor. He became very disturbed by this, so we went back to the familiar pattern. I will try again next time. I also tried in all the activities to use the "we did it!" language, so he understood these were a team effort.

Monday, April 23rd (1/2 hour) - timing wise, i did most of these activities around dinner or in the 1/2 hour after Rosie went to bed. This seems to be a good time for us in the evenings.
- Carrot game: we did the carrot peeling game. Henry understood his role immediately and wasn't thrown off at all when i threw in a few curve balls by throwing the carrot scraping on the ground or holding on to it for awhile. Maybe something about sitting on chairs in a distraction-less room seems to work better.
- However, we did play the mountain game again and he was too excited! Every thrown pillow would cause him to want to run and jump on the pile, so i ended up having to do a lot of holding his hand in this exercise that i hadn't done before. We ending it after one mountain was built.
- hide the chopsticks: Henry ate Chinese noodles last night (aka ramen) so it was the perfect opportunity to hide the chopsticks and ask him "what's missing". When he realized they were not in their usual place though, instead of immediately referencing me, he just seem perplexed and went back to his chair. I had to prompt him with a "Henry, do you want the chopsticks...they're right there" - and then use eye gaze to direct him to the right place. He seems to "get" the eye gaze thing immediately (harking back to our days with the speech therapist and all her scavenger hunt games) but i was hoping that he would reference me right away and that didn't happen. I hope that once he is more confident with me as his guide this will get better.
- laundry game: did this one again, but Henry was somewhat distracted in the laundry room and seemed to look out the window behind me more than at me. I think i will try to keep most of the activities these days in our distraction-free room, until he seems ready to handle it in the rest of the house.

Getting Started....

Just a little intro for anyone who might be perusing this site. This blog was created to act as a journal for Aaron and I to write about the RDI objectives and activities we are working on with our son Henry, who is on the autism spectrum, and share them with our RDI consultant. If it proves helpful to you, all the better!