RDI, here we come

So I’m sure most of my readers know that my son Bede is autistic. He’s pretty impossible to sum up so I won’t try. We have been doing Floortime with him for about a year now, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, and we’ve seen HUGE gains over that time. Some of the gains are due to the focused nature of Floortime and DIR interaction and some of them are due to the natural development of a little boy. Autistic children are no more frozen in developmental time than any other child and even if we’d done nothing Bede would be a different boy than he was a year ago. But that said, Floortime is fantastic stuff.

So now we have come to the time where we are ready to add the semi-structured component of Floortime. Up to now my work with Bede has been almost entirely child-led as I sought to find a bridge to his worldview, his way of seeing things, his joy. Thanks to Floortime I found it! He’s attached and connected to me and it is wonderful to be there. Before Floortime I felt like furniture sometimes. Now I still feel like furniture when he climbs on me, but it’s a good kind of furniture.

Floortime and the DIR model mesh with RDI beautifully, at least from my outsider perspective. Floortime has thus far been almost free, money-wise. My only cost was about $50 in books: The Child with Special Needs and Engaging Autism, both by Stanley Greenspan. I’m the ‘therapist’ in the DIR model and the thing it takes is TIME. Lots of time. So does RDI – about the same amount of time as far as I can tell (Something like 2-4 hours a day, when you can swing it.) The difference between RDI and Floortime seems to be mostly that RDI has a cookbook approach to activities with your child and Floortime has a much less delineated feel. Sort of like the difference between climbing a mountain and climbing a staircase, I think.

RDI costs money though. Lots less than the most common autism intervention, Applied Behavioral Analysis (we do not think this approach will work with our family so we are not considering it at this time) which can run over fifty thousand dollars a year for an intensive program. RDI should cost us something like three to five thousand dollars. We (read: I) will be doing ALL the actual therapy, and our money will go to our consultant for an indepth assessment and individualized program for Bede, ‘troubleshooting’ when we run into walls or snags, and ongoing video review. I say I will be doing it all because I am the primary Coach, in RDI lingo. Sean will be secondary and he gets to watch all the training materials etc. but won’t be doing too much of the actual activities with Bede for a while. He gets to just ‘be’ with him, which he’s great at.

I’m daunted by the whole process, honestly. I know I can do it, I know WE as a family can do it, but whew. Whew. It’s a lot of money for us (we will only be able to do it with a consultant if Bede qualifies for SSI, otherwise we will be unable to pay) and paying money makes it more real, somehow. Futzing around on my own is one thing, committing to this is another. Daunting. But we’re up to it! WE CAN DO IT!

OK, I’ll wax philosophical more later, and talk about our consultant-to-be. Bede needs me!

5 thoughts on “RDI, here we come

  1. You don’t know how happy I am to be able to hear your voice again!! Hope the SSI comes through before too long and you can get the ball rolling. This will such an amazing thing for Bede and all of you.

  2. i am so excited that you are blogging again! yay!

    i also look forward to hearing more about how RDI works for you. i went to a TEACCH conference earlier this month & really loved it because one of the huge things they talked about was respecting the Autism…


  3. Phoebe,

    I have been doing “lone ranger” RDI since March 2007 with my 18yo daughter with autism. Even without a consultant, the interactions we are having our wonderful. I am making progress on my own objectives (me: slow down, speak declarative, talk about what I am thinking), and she has learned and is using things like facial expressions (doing and reading), following eye gaze, reading my face when unsure of what to do, talking about memories or what she is thinking, etc. And, in this process, she is learning things that I had put aside thinking they were too hard: puzzles, baking, cutting curved objects, etc. I have been blogging our entire RDI journey.

    I encourage you to pursue RDI!! ABA wasn’t for us either!

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