The past few weeks have been filled with homework. Yep, homework. You see, the goal of RDI is to train the parents to better guide their autistic children on their own. So the first portion of our consulting has been educating ourselves. Of course, we will continue to learn as we go along, but the initial learning curve has to be hurdled first. It’s been a huge help that we learned about RDI several years ago and have been trying to educate ourselves all along. So a couple of weeks ago our consultant decided that we now had enough understanding of the RDI principles to move into the practical hands-on phase.
This morning we had our initial assessment session. Now, lest you think this session was to assess Hannah, let me set you straight. Remember, RDI is all about training the parent. So this assessment was focused on John and me. Yes, we will be able to learn more about Hannah as the consultant reviews all the video footage, but the main focus will be how we can improve as her guides.
One improvement popped up as the morning wore on. We noticed that Hannah has become very dependent on hearing us talk to her, so she is not using her other senses very much to also capture information about our communication. When we first started some RDI-type activities, we put a big emphasis on reading and referencing faces, and her eye contact increased dramatically. However, today we discovered that we have gradually slacked off over the years and settled into accepting rare eye contact. It was quite interesting that once that tendency was identified, and both we and the consultant worked on reducing our auditory input to encourage Hannah to look up and use visual referencing more, that personal connection carried over for a few hours after our session was over. Hannah and I ran some errands after the assessment, and I noticed a marked increase in her eye contact as we walked and talked, going into and out of various buildings. She didn’t rush ahead, but stayed beside me of her own volition, looked at me often during our comments, and best of all, I was reminded of how beautiful her eyes are.
I’m eager to hear what the next focused improvement will be for our guiding style. But as I wait for the consultant to review all that footage, you can bet I will be pausing more in my verbal communication with Hannah to wait to see those beautiful eyes looking into mine.