Hey! It's my blog! I remember my blog!
Hello, blog friends! Thank you for continuing to check in to see if I'm here. I'm sorry I haven't been. It's been a busy summer.
It's been busy for a lot of reasons. We've had some vacation getaway time on a lake and at the ocean. Bud's been taking - and loving - swimming lessons at the college pool. We've been engaged with a fabulous summer school program that Bud actually looks forward to. We've been waging the war on thunder fairly successfully. We have, in other words, been busy with lots of things that could make for good blog posts - I've just been too busy living them to have any time to write about them. So I send my apologies to those of you who have checked in day after day to find the very same blog post at the top of the page. I'm glad to say that the hiatus has ended, because there's something that I'm really excited to tell you about.
But, before I do - did you read the news out of Children's Hospital in Boston a couple of weeks ago? Here's the laypersons version of it: Researchers have identified six genes related to the neural connections required for learning that appear to be present and intact, but inactive, in some people with autism, suggesting that the key to treating autism lies in reactivating those dormant genes. Separate but related research shows that many of the "inactive" genes involved in autism also have a high degree of plasticity, which may make them especially receptive to reactivation.
This is very good news, and it has everything to do with the news I need to share, because it's this very theory - a rejection of the "hard boiled egg" theory of brain development (i.e., there is a limited window of opportunity for change, because once it's done, it's done) and the belief that real progress in autism hinges on creating opportunities for a "do over" in development that will create and strengthen the neural pathways that are necessary for learning - that underlies the autism intervention strategy that makes the most sense to me - RDI or Relationship Development Intervention. And we are currently diving head-first into a structured RDI program.
If you're a long-time reader, then you know that I've been a believer in RDI since I attended a two-day parent workshop in the summer of 2005. You also know that since that time, I've done a lot of research on my own and jury-rigged a renegade RDI program without the aid of a consultant, based only on my own limited understanding of the RDI philosophy.
About a year ago, I discovered that I'd gone about as far as I could go on my limited knowledge, and our family life took a detour that required that we focus energy on some other areas of our life, so though I tried to continue to parent through the lens of the RDI philosophy, I stopped actively "doing" RDI.
All that is changing, though, because - as is our luck, in that all the right people come into our lives at just the right times - Bud's former Kindergarten teacher, known to longtime readers as the great Mrs. H, has left teaching after thirty years to work full-time in the world of autism and is in the process of becoming certified as an RDI consultant. We are lucky enough to be one of her first families, and it is very, very exciting.
We had our first official meeting with Mrs. H last week, and my mom and I spent this week watching online seminars and responding to reflection questions, building up our store of knowledge about RDI and boosting our confidence and competence at using it successfully. As I've watched the e-seminars and listened to Dr. Gutstein talk about forming and strengthening neural pathways and giving the brain the opportunity for a developmental do-over, I've had the recent research from Boston buzzing in my head. This is it. We're going to focus on those inactive genes and we're going to figure out what it takes to get them moving, to get them connecting, to get them positively flying.
Because here's the the thing - Inactivity? A lack of progress? It's fleeting. A blip on the radar. It can feel pervasive and eternal when you load the same blog page day after day after day after day and see the same tired post you've been reading for weeks, or when you live day after day after day after day with the same Teletubbies video or the same peanut butter sandwiches as the only acceptable lunch food or the same catch phrase from an Ernie and Bert routine repeated incessantly. But it's not eternal. It's not forever. All it takes to make significant change is having the right person sit down at the keyboard and press the right keys in the right order to create a whole new blog post. All it takes to make significant change is having the right person engage with a child and provide the right opportunities for the right challenges in the right order to create a whole new neural pathway.
Can you feel it? It's happening.
This thing is on.