Saturday, October 13, 2007

Secret Window

Pamela and I have thoroughly enjoyed the free toys at The Toymaker. First, we made a fairy wand. Now, Pamela is one horse short of a menagerie. She recently received a postcard in the mail from her Oma (across the street) and little gifts from one of Steve's co-workers (Michelle). I thought making a secret window might be a great way to make a thank-you card, work on cutting skills, and cover episodic memory. We spent the week cutting out the secret window, decorating it with memorable pictures, and gluing the box. Her drawings all reflect gifts given to her by Oma and Michelle.

One of my goals is to talk less (pausing to give Pamela greater opportunity to speak), talk more declaratively, and spotlight my emotions and her emotions. I can see lots of improvement on this front from the video clips from earlier in the month.

Positives: Pamela references me during the conversation and speaks up more than she usually does without me having to prod her. In fact, our exchanges were even in quantity, and we did maintain an 80-20 declarative to imperative ratio. She talked about the attributes of her boxes and gifts, predicted how Oma and Michelle would react, responded to my comments, etc. She expressed joy by clapping!

Challenges: A siren went off about halfway through, but Pamela continued her focus.

Tips: I need to gasp even less when she shows interest. I need to replace the raised voice prompting with declarative sentences.


Anonymous said...

TAMMY, OH MY GOODNESS!!! This is MAJOR improvement since the last video. I noticed Pamela has a lot to contribute and say when given the chance to process and when more pauses are inserted for her to give her ideas. I thought this was a lovely and very reciprocal conversation. I noticed she expressed ON HER OWN that "it was fun!" I also noticed her head shake near the end.. so she is beginning to use
other broadband forms of communication besides just speech.
yippee!! You might consider not starting your words (turn) until she glances at you, this will give her more practice at referencing. This was A W E S O M E!!!!!!! You must feel so encouraged!! Rhonda

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

This is too cool- i kept noticing how she was referencing you! and the whole fact that she didn't get distracted by the siren. What a wonderful video. I wonder if all use RDI moms sound the same w/ our 'gasps' and 'waiting' expressions. LOL

Bonnie said...



I'm trying to get the nerve to dive into yet another therapy...

walking said...


Thanks for the reminder! There is so much to keep track of in MY internal world and one thing I forget too often is to wait for her to reference before I speak because of my "get on with it" nature.

Queen Mum,

I try to give an eager, expectant look (smile and eyebrows raised).


This is more of lifestyle changes and altering one's communication style and way of approaching interactions. Yes, there are some activities we specifically frame to work on an objective that look like therapy. The overall idea is to focus on how we interact to help our children fare better in a dynamic, ever-changing world.

Pamela can do everything she did in that clip. I am trying to give her the opportunity by slowing down and waiting. I am trying to allow her to feel the joy of interacting so that she will be self-motivated to want more of them.

poohder said...

Tammy, I totally understand how hard this can be sometimes, trying to remember all of the things we need to spotlight. This has been the hardest thing for me and still is. But I guess that's another reason why in RDI they say to slow down.. so we will have enough time to process what we need to do too,
not just our kids..ha! BTW, I have a very "get on with it nature" too.

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

Hey, Tammy! FINALLY got around to really reading your blog... apologies for being so self-centered these last few months. ANYway, Pamela is so beautiful... but I'm not sure I understand how what you're doing is RDI as opposed to just good engaging parenting? I see you tapping into shared a lot of emotional support...and generally parenting. What is the RDIish part - and how is it different from what you usually do?

walking said...

You are right, Lisa, in essence the point of RDI is to focus on your parenting style and focus on relating in ways that helps an autistic child process better. In a previous clip, Pamela was not as chatty because I spent more time talking than she did and I did not try to balance my length of statements with hers. I did not wait long enough during awkward silences for her to process and say what she was thinking. When I started to talk less and wait more with an eager expectant look, Pamela began to take more ownership in the conversation.

Before reading about RDI, I thought that Pamela could not learn to give meaningful eye contact and that she would struggle with attention shifting because of all the research I have read and the insider's perspective of people with autism. I started implementing RDI strategies into my parenting style and now Pamela references me: she reads my body language and facial expression. She uses more body language and facial expressions (at the end, she raises her eyebrows). Eye contact does not mean much if you do not benefit from it. NOW, Pamela understands that faces can give you information just like words can give you information.

Before RDI, she had no idea how to follow a person's eye gaze. It took three weeks of a structured activity to teach this before she got it. She can learn these developmental skills which do not come naturally to a person with autism that will help her to understand people better.

If I had sat down and chatted with Pamela like that last year, she would not have looked at me for details about how I was feeling. She would not have shifted attention from the secret window to my face because she did not know that my face provides information just like the box does. She would have primarily said yes or no (because I was too busy prompting her with questions).

Her face is more relaxed and sometimes she uses her face while talking. The other day, I was asking her questions about what she wanted, and she scrunched up her face and shook her head. She never shook her head or nodded--every communication she used was verbal. Now, she winks at me (when she is joking or wants me to say something wrong as a joke), nods, shakes her head, uses her eyebrows and widens or closes her eyes, etc.

Anonymous said...

Tammy, this is wonderful. I love your creative ideas for working with her on her language skills.