Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is this thing on?

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.

22 comments:

Bannie said...

I'm so glad you are back and that you were gone for good reasons! I have just started reading about RDI....with the intent to put it to work. The idea that you must be connected and engaged in order to learn, live and love has always been a part of my belief system, but the question has always been how do you make that happen. RDI may be what I've been seeking! Please let me know how it is working for you! I'll let you know how my free style approach is working! So glad you are back! You were missed!

kristina said...

Keep it on and ongoing!

Joeymom said...

Welcome home! We've missed you!

graceunderautism said...

thank goodness for my feed reader to tell me you're back!

I'm off to google more about RDI now.

Kitt said...

Wow! That's excellent news.

I was just wondering about you a couple of days ago and hoping everything was OK. Sounds like it's much more than OK.

Niksmom said...

OMG! I have goosebumps!! No lie! This is very exciting, indeed!

Oh, and the living life and being too busy to write about it...I totally relate! Glad you are back with such wonderful news. I've missed you and Bud.

Harvest Mom said...

I was SO excited to see a post from you (I only read 4 blogs, and all 4 have been very slow this summer -- of course, that hasn't stopped me from clicking on them daily hoping for a new post, because once in awhile I'm rewarded with one like this!!).

And then I read the post and now I'm even MORE excited!!!! I'm so thrilled to hear that you're "officially" starting with RDI and are getting in on the "ground floor" with a consultant-in-training that you love! As you know, J made just incredible progress during our formal RDI program (and the progress has continued even since graduating from RDI), I can just feel all the good things coming down the pike for Bud and your family!

BTW, I think the rule about a 2-parent family for a supervision family has to do with keeping as many variables steady for evaluating the consultant in training. So it has to do with quality control in the certification process, and is not at all a reflection on the effctiveness of RDI with families that do not have both parents involved. With your mom, you certainly have more support than I did during our program.

Melissa H said...

GREAT news. :-) Can't wait to read the details.

kyra said...

Woohoo!! I can FEEL it!!!

I am gearing up to dive into RDI in a whole new way as well, considering how I can get to the workshop in Houston this fall for some intense small group sessions with the incomparable Dr. G.

SO glad you have the great Mrs. H!

Eileen said...

So happy to hear from you and with such a positive post. I never know when one of the blogs I read is quiet for some time if they will return with an up or down post. Glad to read your up. And Hooray for the return of Mrs. H!!! I am looking forward to reading more about your RDI adventures also.

Steph said...

How wonderful that Mrs. H is becoming a consultant! We just started working with an RDI consultant as well (I couldn't even get off the ground with a renegade program -- *LOL* -- I found I needed more guidance than I could find on my own). We are getting a "late" start -- my daughter is 14. Thank goodness we're laying the notion of narrow windows of opportunity to rest with Dr. Gutstein's blessing. *LOL* Glad I found your blog.

mommy~dearest said...

Hey! There you are!

I just have to say that I have goosebumps after reading your post. I am so excited for you and Bud, this delve into RDI, and the fact that you will have a familiar and trusted person guiding you two. Best of luck, and we want updates!

Glad to see you're back. :)

JoyMama said...

Deja vu... I used the "is this thing on?" title for a post just earlier this month! But you gave it a much nicer metaphorical turn than I did.

Our family too is just getting started on a relationship-based therapy...

E.M. Forster's dictum "Only connect!" is springing to mind right about now.

dancingmom said...

What a wonderful post! Living is much more important than blogging, but I am so happy to have you back. Sounds like you're having an excellent summer! Please do keep us posted on the RDI -- I have never even looked into it but maybe I should.

xo

Daisy said...

At least you left a cute story as "your" last post. :)

Club 166 said...

Glad to hear that you're having a great summer, and also glad to see you back!

Joe

Cindy Ericsson said...

The beginning of the post made me think of how I wanted pictures of everything when my children were little; the camera was an extension of my hand. Now that they are older, I don't take the camera everywhere. I want the memories they have to be of me doing things with them, not watching them through a lens.
I'll be eagerly reading about your family's RDI adventures.

KAL said...

Terrific news. I very much like this theory, it makes a lot of sense. It is good to see you back. Glad you've been enjoying summer w/Bud.

Laura said...

Be sure to blog about your experience with RDI. I too am encouraged by the latest research.

LAA and Family said...

Great news! I've neglected my blog a bit lately too and haven't been good about visiting others either.

I'm slowly checking out RDI as well. I remember being surprised a while back when I did a search for RDI and found a post you had done about it, because up until then I hadn't known it was something you were doing or considering. I have a couple books to read about it now (it's been slow going so far), but I don't foresee us "doing" RDI actively in the immediate future.. lots of other things to handle right now since I'm teaching at home.

Our lives are very different, but I'm always amazed at how our experiences, both ours and our son's, seem to parallel each other.

Yours was one of the first blogs I came across done by the parent of an autistic child (about a year and a half ago). You helped save my sanity when I seemed to be surrounded by others who saw autism as a tragedy!

Sustenance Scout said...

Again, late for the party, but this is VERY exciting. Can't wait to read more, K.

Ellen said...

I've glanced at your blog before as I prepare myself for the big leap into ASD parenting. Diagnosis should be handed down in the next month or two. The testing is done. Process is nuts. Today I googled on "supervision family" and RDI and found this old post with no follow-up. So what happened? I've been in contact with someone who seems eager to line up families and I am eager to learn.