Communication is Vital
Communication is more than words.
Reciprocal communication is essential for the development and the expression of basic wants and needs. Without this ability, both the child and parents of a child with ASD can be left frustrated with feelings of incompetence. Our focus is to eliminate this stress level for the parent and the child, to teach the parent how to intuitively be the guide and improve the child’s functioning as communicators in the world and at home.
Treatment of autism typically includes speech therapy, and today’s popular focus largely remains on services such as the formation of speech and social skills, which can be overwhelming and is not effective help for the autistic child.
Speech Therapy 101
In common terms, speech therapy is an intervention service that is designed to improve a child’s speech, including the improvement of motor skills such as the movement of the lips and jaws, and the ability to express language.
Specifically, for a child with autism, speech therapy must be designed to enable children to communicate functionally and spontaneously and include nonverbal language.
Speech Therapy Roles
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a vital role in the diagnosis, assessment, and planning of autism treatments, and the overall communication goals and roles also offshoot to include other autism professionals and teachers, all of which provide education and direction to parents with children on the spectrum to equip them as their child’s number one speech therapy leader, as they are the foremost guide in their children’s lives.
RDI Speech Therapy Goals
The attainment of success with any goal in the RDI program is rooted in the development of Guided Participation between parent and child—build the relationship first. Ideally, both parent and child are participants, and both are engaged. This is foundational to the goal of reciprocal communication and interaction.
For example, reciprocal communication can be encouraged by simple activities with the child by a process of:
· Sharing experiences
· Limiting verbal language directives
· Slowing the rate of communication
· Increasing the use of gestures
· Increasing the emphasis on vocal tone, pacing, timing, and volume
· Limiting questions, commands, and prompts
· Practicing patience (children sense impatience and become discouraged)
· Increasing opportunity without demanding response (declarative language)
Declarative language is one of the main objectives of RDI. It consists of the ability to use language and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite others to interact, share perceptions and feelings and coordinate your actions with others. We guide parents to avoid using imperative language, which is a form of questions or commands that require a particular response.
In the RDI program, our focus is not on language when we talk about speech therapy, it is about RDI lifestyle and daily life opportunities, simple life activities that promote mutual communication.
As we encourage uncomplicated activities with the child through mindful guiding for the child to observe, process and think, she or he will understand and voluntarily choose an orienting action. By choosing the orienting action, they effectively learn reciprocal communication.
Catalyst to Development: Experience-Sharing
The main purpose of communication is not instrumental, to get something from another person, instead, it is about experience-sharing. Experience-sharing is a catalyst to learning about others, and to learning about ourselves, which is monumental to the development of communitive abilities in a child with ASD.
At RDI, our goal is not the typical focus on the development of correct speech or motor skills that promote speech, nor is it to build academic or social skills, rather, our focus is developmental growth through example and participation between the parent guide and the child with ASD. We do not concentrate on the acquisition of language, instead, we place emphasis on non-forced interactions with the child, which becomes the essential building block that opens the world of communication up to both the parent and the child.