Yesterday, Pamela did her first RDA (Relationship Development Assessment) with a bona fide consultant to help me plan out objectives under the new operating system. In the morning, Pamela and I did the first segment: 10 different blocks of five or ten minutes where we follow very simple instructions that basically involve hanging out. Pamela acted like her typical self, and her consultant got to see Pamela as she really is.
After segment one, we had a long lunch and headed to a local park. I wanted Pamela to get some fresh air and completely relax by having a change of pace and beautiful scenery. While I felt completely calm with the first session since Pamela was enjoying herself, I was a bit nervous about the second segment because Pamela and our new consultant would work alone. While they were busy upstairs, I sat downstairs and filled out paperwork, pages and pages of paperwork.
For those of you who are told the myth that homeschooling with your autistic child will make them completely dependent, DON'T BELIEVE IT! I have been Pamela's one and only teacher since 1995. I think we spent about four years working on the master-apprentice relationship: me, figuring out how to guide and she, learning how to follow my lead. Pamela did a wonderful job working with Amy. They worked together for 45 minutes, without making a peep. They made crafts (I suspect a mother's day gift for me) and our consultant framed it to test out various theories she had about Pamela's level of development. They took a short break and headed back for 15 minutes.
Steve did not arrive until 530 thanks to a board meeting scheduled by his boss at the last minute. So, he and Pamela will do their segment today. I think the goal is to see how he interacts with Pamela. Then, our consultant will debrief us and focus on me to teach me how to use the system, nail down where Pamela is in stages one and two objectives, and figure out which core deficit of autism requires the most attention.
Here is the upshot of where Pamela is. She is in new stage two (perhaps, some of my RDI buddies can help me translate that to old stage terms). Our consultant said we have the most challenging aspects of RDI behind us: master-apprenticeship and co-regulation. While we nailed master-apprenticeship many moons ago, I know we figured out co-regulation during the past year. Pamela's referencing skills were practically non-existent when we started lone-ranger RDI back in March 2007. The consultant told me that, at one point, their session felt like two chicks doing crafts. She saw through Pamela's challenges with language and noticed her creativity, imagination, gentleness, focus, and persistence.
The biggest hurdle is language. The consultant (who started out life as an SLP) agrees that Pamela's language issues go beyond autism into the world of aphasia. She was very inspired by Pamela because, even though she struggles with her language, she has conquered to two hardest hurdles of RDI. From this point on it is a matter of figuring out objectives and working on them. It may be because Pamela is older and more mature, but she is the first client in years of experience to walk in with co-regulation mastered. Pamela is a perfect example of someone who is able to accomplish many things in spite of difficulties with language.