“Two monologues do not make a dialogue.” Jeff Daly

Working with a family some time ago, a third grade girl with Asperger’s Syndrome was chosen to participate in a social skills class run by a speech pathologist at her school. She was selected by her teacher because she had become more independent in the classroom and more socially interested.

After practicing with her group, she approached a child on the playground and asked, “do you want to play ball?” “No”, the child replied. “Do you want to play ball”, louder this time. “No”, louder in reply. And, so it continued.

From this brief example, you can see that skills without requisite functions are destined for failure. Children’s play is complex and not easily, perhaps ever, reduced to a formula or repetition.

In this summary description of an RDI Parent Objective , you see our focus on building a solid foundation for communication:

  • Your communication pace is slow and models deliberation.
  • You make sure to pause while communicating so your child has adequate time for processing and considering.
  • You provide spaces for the child to think about communication prior to responding.
  • If the child is not yet talking, you realize that developing speech without the proper communicative foundations in place would be counter-productive. You are not interested in developing speech that is detached from thought, interest in others and integration with multiple communication channels.
  • You employ communication that emphasizes gradually developing different channels at different times.
  • You frequently respond to the verbal child’s verbalizations with non-verbal communication.
  • Your language frequency is deliberately less than expected with a typical child of this age.
  • Your communication is used primarily to direct attention, for invitation, to increase coordination of joint actions, to enhance emotional connection and to share and integrate common experiences.

There are no shortcuts for guiding our children. Like you, we wish there were. But, the functions and payoff of communication are well worth the effort and time they require.

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