Friday, February 5, 2010

Laura Hynes, from ExtraoRDInaryminds, Speaks on RDI

Laura Hynes, from, spoke to the NAA-NY Metro Chapter about Relationship Development Intervention (RDI.) RDI is a treatment for individuals with neurodevelopmental problems which trains parents to engage in dynamic activities with their children so they can move away from static, rigid patterns of behavior.

Laura explained the ways in which neurotypical brains form connections allowing different areas of the brain to collaborate in a flexible way and how "dynamic connectivity" in typical brains allows a person to respond to changing and complex situations quickly and, when needed in an innovative way. That contrasts with ASD brain development where there is a rigidity in the connections and an underconnectivity, leading to a more rigid reliance on learned rules and static situations. She discussed the way the static intelligence (i.e., what we know) combines with dynamic intelligence (i.e., what we do with what we know) to create fully developed brain function.

RDI aims to develop that dynamic element for our children so that they are able to fully participate in all aspects of their lives. Laura discussed the importance of experience sharing language in reaching our children and drawing then out. She offered a number of easy "foundational" tips that parents could start using right away: comment (on actions, offering opinions and ideas), which is more open-ended and less predictable, rather than ask questions designed to elicit a specific response; use less language and more non-verbal communication (body language, facial expression, gesture); use more indirect prompts and fewer direct prompts. She also discussed creating opportunities of "productive uncertainty" where a child still feels safe but can be challenged and become curious - productive uncertainty is an opportunity for cognitive growth because it stretches you.

In RDI parents are their child's guides. While parents work with an RDI consultant to set goals and learn RDI techniques to achieve the goals, it is a parent-driven program, with the parents "doing RDI" with the child, not a therapist. By making parent the providers of the therapy, RDI respects and celebrates the parent-child connection.

To learn more about RDI, you can contact Laura Hynes. Here is an excerpt of her presentation:

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