Friday, January 13, 2012

Plateaus and Connections

Sometimes I think there is a bit of a pattern to Morgan's development. It is possible that most kids develop this way, but I'm not sure. Piper may more of a sure and steady girl, taking a gradual approach, but Morgan is a bit more complicated. But, how can we expect anything different from her?

Currently, I think Morgan is in a "plateau" stage at the moment. In this stage, in the past, she sort of levels off for a while before she makes a big jump forward. Preceding the jump is usually what I call a "crisis of frustration" phase where we seem to struggle more with communication and see more outbursts and tantrums. I know we are not there right now, though she has her moments, so now is the plateau.

During last summer she had a huge jump forward in her expressive language and once she started school in the fall, she took another leap. She has much more spontaneous language, less scripted, though some is still there. I find she makes these leaps as schedules/routines change, as this is where she is challenged the most. She likes her routine and fights to stay in it...but that is not life and she is forced to make changes, thus she takes jumps forward, whether she is willing to or not. Thank goodness!

Now we are back in the school year as our winter break is done. Maybe we'll see another jump forward soon? Dare we say there is a "pattern"? Once we think we figure something out, it changes again.

We are taking steps forward in our RDI program as well. In just the last week I have worked very hard with Morgan to incorporate techniques and "activities" into our routine. Though it is hard work to keep her engaged, when we do it there are great rewards. I must admit, that at times I have a hard time "connecting" with my girl. She is high-functioning enough that she never completely retreats into her own world, but she is satisfied with more playing on her own and loves to watch her favorite TV shows (again and again). Since I have been working with her more consistently I have felt more "connection" with her. When we are in the midst of what we call our "projects" she often will stop to give me a hug or kiss. I'm sure she feels much more connection with me as well. Some of this is due to the one-on-one attention she gets and I am down on her level...but some of it is due to the strategies of helping her to become more dynamic in her communication.

With RDI we try our best to use more "dynamic" communication with her. We avoid questions and commands. These things require rote answers, not forcing her to think and make more dynamic pathways in her brain. We use "experience-sharing" language, talking in detail about what we are doing and seeing, whether we are sorting laundry or putting away the dishes. We also work side-by-side in a way that we are dependent on each other, no one working completely independently. It is truly what the name is "relationship development." We are still at the beginning of this journey, but I am thrilled with the progress so far.

I'm off to work with Morgan some more and hopefully lots more hugs and kisses along the way!

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