Friday, August 17, 2012

RDI Compared to the Son-Rise Program

Welcome to our first installment of our series helping to answer the question you may be asking...what is RDI? For this particular series, we will be comparing some of RDI’s foundations with those of the Son- Rise program, This idea emerged due to the fact that the Son- Rise program referred to and compared the RDI program on their site, but did not accurately describe or be clear about the RDI program .Our goal here is to give parents an accurate description and comparison for them to make their own informed choice.  Each cornerstone, Kim Isaac,M.S., autism specialist and RDI consultant from Arizona and Kathy Darrow, Autism Specialist,parent of two children who were diagnosed with autism and RDI certified consultant, New Jersey, will discuss between themselves, for you the readers, the importance of developmental guidance, while addressing some comparisons between RDI program goals and the Son-Rise program. Read and reflect on our conversation.. We welcome comments and feedback!! My color in the conversation will be Purple and Kim’s will be PINK.

For a description on The SOn-rise program,  click here
For a description of Relationship Development Intervention
Click here

Hi Kim, I want to say first off that I’m really happy to be able to go through this with you for anyone who is reading this information for a clearer understanding of what RDI is along with the comparison between The Son-rise program and RDI. There may be some specific differences between RDI and The Son- Rise program, as there are also similarities. Imagine my surprise when I saw on their site some misleading statements about  RDI.

So as a parent and professional, I believe when we explore options with comparisons we can make the most informed choice. Parents are the best ones to make the choice for their family This is why, along with addressing the false statements on the Son Rise Site, we will be reviewing their cornerstones as taken right the Son- Rise Manual. For myself, and Kim I know for you, This question is becoming more frequent, One of the questions I was asked when I spoke at Autism One was what is the difference between RDI and Floortime. I believe this is a valid question and one I asked myself when I was exploring what I needed to do for my kids. For me, comparing therapies are not fighting words, they are empowering words so that families can get the best fit!!! WIth that said I hope that anyone reading this can take away the positive message of comparison for clarity!

Let’s begin by talking about what child development is... what Autism is and how RDI bridges the two by addressing typical development. Typical development...something that most of us take for granted until it does not unfold ...well...typically. I remember with my firstborn, I could not wait for that moment, around 4 weeks old that there was the recognition...that hey, you are someone important to me!! Without any words, just through the eyes, there was a connection...based on experience ( you answer me when I cry, you comfort me when I am upset) At just a few weeks, the back and forth relationship has begun. For the infant, this is when learning begins, through their parents, their guide in the world that is huge to them. We as parents, break down each interaction on their level, because when we don’t, we see that they become overwhelmed. We match our actions to their actions. When we talk to them we do not talk in complex sentences, but we simplify. We slow things down for them, we slow down the pace of what we are doing. We play games like Peek a boo which shows them that we are there, and then we are gone! This helps them to learn about their environment, through our eyes. This helps them to see that there is a pattern in our interaction. We wait for them to take an action to our action, and this is how they learn the back and forth of reciprocal relationships. The first two years of life is rich in learning...

It is no surprise that at around 1-3 years of age, we begin to see the effects of the lack of development in children, demonstrated by their lack of engagement, who eventually are dx with autism.. With children who regress, they may have some of the milestones in place and then lose them. due to different factors n individual with Autism can have many different factors. There is regressive Autism and infantile Autism. There can be genetics involved, environmental causes, or both.

The issue for our children then becomes, how do we effectively help them regain what did not develop or was lost? Do we just take a 3 year old and start teaching them what we want them to learn or do with no account for what they missed out on developmentally? Do we teach them how to behave even though they still do not understand the back and forth experience sharing that gives them the motivation to interact based on relationship understanding? I know for meaningful long term success, true meaningful engagement must be obtained meaning milestones must be addressed .A huge part in knowing how to address the core of what our kids are struggling with, is to understand what Autism is.

So what is autism? Every time I am asked this question, I experience the internal ‘gasp’ or pause. It is quite a complicated disorder. A disorder that goes past what the eye can see. Autism is often described as a behavioral disorder or a communication disorder, While clearly, there ar observable behaviors noted from an individual on the spectrum, autism is neither of these.  Autism is a developmental disorder, a disorder reflective of lack of neural development in the brain. Observable behaviors are reflective of mental processes and should not be evaluated or treated as behavior alone.
One cannot treat a disorder accurately and effectively if one cannot define what they are treating clearly . For this reason, in addition to helping a child with their behaviors, or medical conditions additionally present with autism, RDI considers the core reasons behind the behaviors in relation to developmental science. This goes deeper than just looking at what happened before the behavior or the behavior itself. But, what is development exactly? Development is a word that professionals from many different fields use and may have a different meaning or association to each person. So let’s examine this so that we are all reflecting with the same definition as it applies to human development. The general consensus of what development is amongst teachers, psychologists, therapists and physicians is agreed on as: the various stages of physical, social, and psychological growth that occur from birth through young adulthood.

It’s true Kim, development as it applies to humans is what we are looking at…What we do know, is that even though every person with Autism is different in how they present, yet they all have the same core deficits ( in development) with Experience sharing , flexibility, communication, self awareness, and episodic memory. These milestones start emerging in typical development in the early months. For this reason, it makes sense to use the model of typical development as a tool to help our children with Autism. Our children with Autism need a guide, someone who can lead them, otherwise how will they know what is the right thing? We want our kids to be decision makers, being able to pick up the social cues from the environment within each decision they make. We want them to have healthy boundaries, which a guide ( the parent or caregiver) can lead them with.

RDI is a developmental model that uses typical development as its *mirror*...taking the guiding relationship, and restoring this intuitive process within parents to restore their (child’s) developmental milestones. An RDI program takes a family step by step through the process of a developmental *re do*

WIth this review of what typical development is, what Autism is and what RDI is, in our next post we will be taking a look  at one of the statements on the Son-Rise site about RDI along with one cornerstone that The Son Rise program mentions in their manual.

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