I am back with more information on the RDI Model!
One of the mothers I work with read my first post and suggested that I mention that RDI can also be used with children who have an atypical development (e.g. ADHD, Learning Disabilities and other delays) since RDI is a developmental approach and most of the developmental milestones are addressed. I should also mention that RDI is really a parenting style that can, and should, be used by all parents with all children. Thus, RDI cannot harm any child, neuro-typical or not.

When a new parent starts the RDI program, there are many things to consider. Readiness is usually a concept that is applied to children on the spectrum with regards to educational objectives, but is also applicable to parents who are starting RDI. It is very important that the parents prepare well before starting the program. Parents need to have the cognitive (information) and emotional readiness to be able to successfully guide their child.

The following stages or aspects are important when considering parent readiness:

1. Information about the program: The new parents (new to RDI) need to have some information about the approach. You can begin by reading through the RDI book, watching the DVD or having an information session with a certified consultant. You can find more information on the RDI book or DVD here. To talk to a consultant in Canada, visit our contact page.

2. Understanding my role and their roles: I often have parents who misunderstand my role and expect me to act as a child therapist. As a certified consultant, I primarily work with the guides (the two parents) and role play with them the activities and then I let them try with their children. Sometimes I demonstrate with their child and then I observe them doing the same activity and I give them my feedback. In general, I only spend about 20 to 25% of my time in direct interactions with the child (sometimes even less). RDI is a program that was made to re-establish the parent/child relationship so that you can do what you do best!

3. Understanding the type of commitment they are making: RDI is not a quick fix for a child’s deficits (not a band-aid type of solution), but rather a deep (neurology changing) marathon that requires a slow pace and endurance. The slower we go, the faster we advance in RDI (EVERYTHING SLOWS DOWN: THE PACE OF ACTIONS, THE COMMUNICATION, THE CHILD AND PARENT’S HEART RATES, etc.)

Once the parents start the program, their learning and readiness work continues (there is a big learning curve with RDI and many A-HA moments on the journey – nothing is learned overnight).

The RDI Online Learning Community is a wonderful online learning system that has presentations, video lessons and communication features (between parents and parent and consultant). Using the learning system, the first thing tackled is the education stage with many education objectives (e.g. learning about Autism, learning what core deficits are, learning what dynamic thinking is, etc.). Once this parent stage is mastered, the parents move on to a different stage called “readiness and commitment” and they have to tackle personal things such as emotional self-regulation (e.g. they have to be aware of their emotional reactions when the child is resisting interaction) and creating space (emotional and physical) for the RDI program.

Once parents have graduated from that stage, there is more planning to do before entering the “Apprenticeship” stage, where they begin to learn specific techniques to help them be efficient guides to their children. The RDI program is different because it can include all the children in the family. Learning the RDI Model helps parents change the way they communicate with all the family members, not only the child with autism. It is very easy to use typical daily situations (e.g. supper) to work on specific objectives in a very natural way and including all the family.

The next parent stage is “Guided participation stage” and it is then the parents are competent enough to tackle specific child objectives (from the child stages). Once the parents are in this parent stage they are working parallel on both parent and child objectives.

The last parent stage is the culmination of the program and parents who graduate from this stage should be OK working with their child without seeing a certified consultant on a regular basis, but rather on a needs-to basis.