Monday, May 12, 2008

Butterflies, Everywhere!

My consultant's handout listed five skills for parents to learn under the "how" of RDI. I have blogged three of them many times (declarative communication, framing, and scaffolding). I will address the fourth skill today: RCR cycles. The acronym RCR means Regulation-Challenge-Re-organization. Basically, the parent sets-up an interaction with competent roles for parent and child, performed in some kind of pattern. When the child is doing well in the interaction, the parent makes little variations to the pattern to make it slightly more unpredictable, but not overwhelming. The child learns to accept the slight change and continue the pattern without getting confused.

You can see this in the clip of us putting butterflies away in an assembly line pattern. The pattern is Me-Pamela-Elephant. She quickly gets into the swing of it, so I start doing little variations for fun.

My consultant assessed Pamela for all three beginner patterns, and Pamela had no problem. The first year we homeschooled Pamela and I did patterning for her fine motor issues. I have never thought of interactions as patterns, but I know we have been doing all three patterns for years and years. I am not surprised Pamela did well with them. Just to be sure that I am on track, the consultant asked me to do two or three days of each pattern (15 to 18 patterns each day). She wants to make sure that, when Pamela struggles, I will remember to fall back on these RCR patterns. If Pamela gets angry at a restaurant, we could do something as simple as empty sugar packets out of the holder one by one and then put them back one by one. Reestablishing a sense of competence is an effective way to prevent meltdowns.

First, I made a list of activities that had patterns. Interaction patterns are in almost any activity. Random on-the-fly thinkers can probably join in what their child is doing. I am not one of them. I need a plan from which I can vary.

Then, I picked a competent role for both of us. Some roles might be too difficult (such as putting clothes already on a hanger in a closet), so I took the harder role. Physical roles help children get regulated. Since Pamela is under-responsive, I made her the active person in some roles (the one who goes first).

I made a list of assembly line patterns I had planned to do today. I tried to spread them out into three batches during the day, all patterns done one after the other. I tried to balance practical things like chores with fun things like toys and crafts.

Homeschool booksPamela-Me-Shelf
Wet clothesMe-Pamela-Dryer
Dry clothesPamela-Me-Basket
Lite Brite Me-Pamela-Paper
Knick-knacks Pamela-Me-Furniture
Stuffed animals Me-Pamela-Floor
Stuffed animals Pamela-Me-Basket
Dry dishes Me-Pamela-Cabinet
Dishwasher dishes Me-Pamela-Cabinet
Crayons Pamela-Me-Bowl

Pamela is a great apprentice. Some children might fuss, argue, and complain (feel free to ignore them, if you can)! The handouts my consultant gave me talk about doing the pattern first so the child can see the roles. Then physically turn one role over to the child when ready.

Pamela has an acute eye for patterns because her mind is so sequential. She caught on to all of my patterns right away. I always know when the light bulb goes off and she smiles. Once she grew competent in the role, I varied the actions in my role.

Our patterns ended when we placed all of the items in the right place. I usually vary how I acknowledge completion, but some times I just move onto the next pattern. For each batch, I tried to put the most fulfilling, emotionally engaging activity last to end on a positive note.

The high for me was playing the Elefun game for the first time ever! I thought she might enjoy this game which just might inspire her to move. She helped me add the batteries, fix up the nets (first clip), and position the butterflies. Her nonverbal and verbal communication is beautiful when she sees the fake butterflies floating in the air (last clip). They do not inspire her enough to move, but I plan to use a sensory integration approach to address her under-responsivity. If your time is limited, watch the last clip--it is a treasure that will make you smile!

I plan to cover two more patterns on the days in which we will be doing them. The fifth skill covered in the handout is elaboration. I have not talked much about elaborating on my blog because I am not knowledgeable enough to go there. I will quote directly from the handout,
Elaboration is how the parent grows what the child learns and makes it increasingly dynamic. It is a way for the parents to help the child increase areas of competency. Elaboration is how the parents will take a discovery, and help the child develop a deeper meaning to it. Elaboration techniques include use of same-but-different thinking, relative thinking, and retrospective and prospective thinking. Elaboration grows directly with Episodic Memory development.


Anonymous said...

Lightbulbs are beginning to go off here, too, Tammy. Hannah has the Elefun game, but she just stands in one place, holding the net in one position, the whole time it's going. Is that what you mean by under-responsive?

poohder said...

RCR is SO foundational to all social ability and obviously Pamela is doing great with regulatory patterns (RCR). You must feel so encouraged. RCR is SO great because I believe every child can learn it. It is so wonderful that RDI is teaching you how to use fewer words and how to slow down to the pace that is respectful to the child's current ability. I think when we as parents learn to do that, our children can pick up the patterns without being prompted. When THEY pick up on the pattern and FEEL THEMSELVES act without being prompted, THEIR brains get stronger. Furthermore, then they will begin to see these patterns everywhere in life and respond accordingly.

In the first video when you dropped the butterfly (productive uncertainty), it was great that Pamela noticed and repaired the situation by going to get the butterfly from your leg without you TELLING her to get it. She kept at it too, without giving up. So many kids have (unintentionally) been trained to be passive because they are waiting for a command.

BTW, I got a great chuckle at seeing you enjoy the Elefun game and the look of happiness is priceless on Pamela's face.

Sorry this got so long, I guess I was sorta thinking it through again. LOL! EXCELLENT POST!! Can't wait for the next one. Rhonda

walking said...

Yes, Sonya, that can be under-responsivity. Does Hannah have low muscle tone? Does she tend to be sluggish and passive about things? Is she polar opposite to a hyperactive child? If so, it could be an under-responsive system.

I ordered a book my consultant has in her office which explains it and gives information about what to do. It is called Sensational Kids. You can bet I'll be blogging how it goes!

Rhonda, between Pamela's first year of homeschooling where we did patterning a la NACD and last year's assundry referencing things we did, we have done lots and lots of RCR cycles! The funny thing is I never did them for calming. We just did spinning and deep pressure hugs in the early stages of homeschooling. Now, co-regulating is a matter of anticipating problems, breathing deeply, talking about the problem, reassuring her verbally, etc. So, RCR cycles will be yet one more tool in my hip pocket!

Niffercoo said...

This is one of the things about RDI that still leaves me puzzled. Tammy, I'm not sure if you were reading my blog back then but the R-C-R just doesn't make sense to me. I know the how, but the why just leaves me perplexed. And we started out with those patterns for awhile, and then our consultant just stopped having us do them. So I'm not sure if that's something we should continue to work on while we working on our stage 2/3 (Reece/Austin) objectives, or what?

I'm starting to feel like I need to be sending my RDI money to you (and the other ladies from the yahoogroup) rather than my consultant! ;) Jen

Niffercoo said...

Oops, forgot to add... we had the Elefun game, too! I had the opposite problem with Reece though. She would get over-responsive and I couldn't bring her back down! She would start hopping and jumping all over the place, even after the butterflies were gone. That was a couple of years ago, so I wonder if it would be different now that she's 6. Probably not, though. She still gets very excited and loud.

Thanks for these great ideas!! Jen

walking said...

Jen, I owe you and Poohder and QueenMum and Jamberry and Sonya (for getting me started) and others way more than you owe me!

Three things I see right away are co-regulation, variations, and repair. If a child is falling apart, one way to calm them down is to get a pattern going because the familiar will be a source of comfort for them. As long as you pick a competent role for the child, she can feel better about the situation.

Also, it is a way to introduce dynamic thinking if they haven't already. You can change the pace, make small errors, add something silly, etc. with the goal of letting them know change is okay.

I think a more advanced ability they can learn is to repair. I was so pleased when Pamela kept looking for the butterfly. She was trying to repair the situation and she was following my lead (the declarative comments I made to give her indirect clues about the whereabout of the missing butterfly).

That just reminded me of another one for very, very young children who are in Stage 1: object permanence. Obviously, Pamela has a sense of object permanence. Otherwise, she would have forgotten about the butterfly once it dropped out of sight or cried because of thinking the butterfly was gone forever.

My consultant was clear. She assessed Pamela on all three patterns and found that Pamela has no problem with them. She assigned a "mini-blitz" for ME so that I could learn to look for these patterns in many situations and use them to re-establish confidence when Pamela is falling apart.

Bonnie said...

wow! I never thought about looking for patterns in daily life.

Re: Sensational Kids, this is a great read, but redundant if you have read the out-of-sync child.

Angela DeRossett said...

What a great post!! You give so many good ideas!

walking said...

Bonnie, here is my deep dark secret. . . Ready? . . . I never read The Out-of-Sync Child! I attended a three-day workshop by Bonnie Hanschu and Judith Reisman and still have my copy of the Sensory Integration Inventory. Whenever I got stuck, I could email my friend Nancy Kashman (who co-authored her book on Sensory Integration with my sister-in-law Janet Mora). All the descriptions I have read about under-responsivity fit Pamela perfectly, so that is one more thread to examine.

Anonymous said...

I liked the butterfly clip-my daughter is under-responsive, too. Seems like most kids have the opposite problem. I appreciate your info on RDI, as It seems like the way to go, but I can't seem to get into a class that teaches it. Thanks.

walking said...

1. Go to the RDI website and find a consultant near you. Sometimes, they offer classes to tell you what it is about and highlight important ideas. Many parents have blogs as do consultants. I have a ton of RDI posts on this blog!

2. In the meantime, three biggies: go slow (my resent post on turtles can help you understand why) and, in all interactions (unless truly time critical), go at your daughter's pace. That may mean waiting 45 seconds for her to observe, process, think and respond. Also, use more declarative language and less command language (I have lots of post on this). Work on nonverbals and the interaction patterns I have here. Go slowly (this way of teaching and involve major lifestyle changes). Think developmentally (not skills) but where she is developmentally even if some areas are infant level. That is where you have to work and that is where an RDI consultant can come alongside and help.

3. Pamela is a much more involved and active person now that we are focused on her development!