Monday, August 18, 2008

Musings on the Association Method and RDI

I love interacting with other people online because they give me wonderful insights. A few months ago, some parents and professionals interested in RDI, whether are not they have or are consultants. For one reason or another, RDI is out of reach for some families, and this list, called Autism Remediation for Our Children, is a place where people can connect and learn relational ways of remediating autism from each other.

This week, we were talking about verbal behavior (VB), a form of speech therapy that is based on the principles of ABA, and I know very little about VB. I did share what is working very well with Pamela, the association method, which can dovetail nicely with RDI, depending upon how you implement it. One person pointed out that verbal behavior focuses on imperative language (right or wrong questions, commands, prompts). RDI, which focuses on declarative language (sharing what you experience), does not mesh well with VB because of the kind of language taught. That comment inspired me to think about the association method in a new light!

Of the he first six sentences and questions taught, five are declarative and only one is imperative.

This is a/an _______. What is this?
I see a/an ______. What do you see?
I have a/an ______. What do you have?
I want a/an _______. What do you want?
______ has a/an _______. What does _______ have?
This is ________. Who is this?

I never thought of this, but much of what the association method teaches is for children to describe what they see in the form of stories, stories about animals, inanimate objects, people, rooms, etc. Slowly, you add on to the basic structure with adjectives, prepositions, other articles, etc. Then, you introduce past tense and future tense to work on experience stories. EXPERIENCE STORIES! That sure sounds like opportunities for experience sharing to me!

We did get back to the Yellow Books (syntax-controlled readers) which we are using to supplement what we do with the association method. I will share more later about our first day of school (I have to edit and process the footage first). Pamela was fabulous as always and enjoyed eating a sandwich (made with gf/cf cheese and bread), soy pudding, and fresh berries from her lunch box. She is so sweet and hard-working!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning this, I applied to join the group just now.

We've been using Lindamood Bell's program (Talkies and Visualizing and verbalizing) to help with narration skills and it also uses a lot of the association method principles that you mentioned. I really like it as it puts the focus on my son using his own words and creating his own stories.

I was saying to my hubby just the other day that I am sure that ABA and VB are very good interventions but I have found it so dry to use that both my son and I get BORED! I'm sure that there's a way to make it more engaging and interesting but I'm not a good enough teacher to figure out how. It makes me grateful to know that there are other methods out there!

walking said...

Susan, nearly everyone at the email list I mentioned who has tried ABA's answer to speech therapy (Teach Me Language) had nothing good to say about it. I compare it to teaching Pamela to drink water from a fire hose!

Many who have tried VB said the same thing as you boring and frustrating.

For everyone!

One thing I want to caution is that the association method is probably not needed for children with pure autism. But, when you have been using lots of verbal and nonverbal declarative language and the child is simply not progressing, there may be a co-occurring condition that the association method might help. I do not think your average autistic preschooler needs this program!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your blog very much and your musings on this topic, and I don't understand how these questions would not be considered a kind of imperative?

What is this?
What do you see?
What do you have?
What do you want?
What does _______ have?
Who is this?

Casdok said...

Sounds interesting.

walking said...

Good question about the declarative versus imperative!

It all boils down to intent! If I have a series of flashcards and expect Pamela to answer it one way and one way only every time, then "What do you see?" would be imperative. Suppose we are walking outside and Pamela gasps. I ask her "What do you see?" because I am very curious in learning what she is experiencing and I patiently wait for her to collect her thoughts. Then, it is heading in the direction of declarative. If I let her decide whether or not she wants to share, then I am not at all being imperative.

More importantly, I am recognizing Pamela as a person with curiosity. I am showing her that she can ask questions of me instead of waiting for me to tell her or teach her. She can take the initiative and ask, rather being passive and wait for me to tell. For an under-responsive person like Pamea, it is so important to let her be in the driver's seat. Now, if she is truly curious about who that person I am waving to, she can confidently ask me, "Who is this?" We are on more of an even playing field because she can ask questions as well as answer them.