Tuesday, May 27, 2008

RDA 4: Spotlighting Communication

The RDA is the Relationship Development Assessment in which consultants help families figure out where a child and family are, select achievable goals, and break down the first goal into bite-sized chunks. We just finished RDA Session 4 (of a total of 6) with our consultant in two phone calls.

In reviewing all of the objectives in Stage 2 (where Pamela is developmentally in her dynamic intelligence abilities), one huge gap became clear: almost all objectives we have not accomplished fall under the category of communication and social competence! Since Pamela's aphasia makes declarative communication a major challenge for her, we decided to work on this goal through gestures. If she begins to feel competent in nonverbal declarative communication, she might transfer that to her verbal comments.

My assignment was to spend the weekend paying attention to all of Pamela's gestures and assigning a function to them. I put the information in a spreadsheet, and we came up with some fascinating conclusions. The first revelation for me was that Pamela has a rich and varied gesture vocabulary. First, we focused on distinctions made in RDI: declarative versus imperative communication.

Declarative - Pointing something out to me

Imperative - Go away!

However, we saw a sizable number of gestures in which Pamela reacted to a situation and showed her emotion with a gesture. If she directed the gesture toward me to share her feeling, we called it declarative. If she directed the gesture to me to get something she wants, we called it imperative. If the gesture was internal to her and I was just a fly on the wall to her, then we called it reactional.

Reactional - Happy

Putting my degree in statistics to use, I summarized our observations of Pamela's repertoire of gestures in the following chart (click it for a larger view).

The three slices of pie represents reactional (pink), imperative (light blue), and declarative (dark blue). The first conclusion is that two-thirds of her gestures are communications with other people. The second conclusion is that only 7% of all gestures are declarative. To put this in context, RDI teaches parents to speak declaratively 80% of the time so that the child will learn to speak more declaratively. The good news, Pamela has many wonderful, varied gestures. The bad news, she uses most of them in a bossy, imperative manner because we inadvertently trained her to do that through our example!

Tomorrow, I will cover our plan to work on declarative gestures.


poohder said...

Yay! I can't wait to read tomorrow's post. This post was very interesting. Your RDI consultant has a wonderful, systematic approach to make you see Pamela in a new light and make new discoveries about your interactions. That is good news about Pamela using varied gestures. Before ya know it, she'll have that declarative percentage WAY UP, I just know it. Rhonda

momof3feistykids said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you for translating your RDI experiences for the rest of us, and thanks so much for your encouragement and suggestions on my own efforts.