Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The staff at the office of my RDI(r) Program Certified Consultant has spoiled me. Actually, spoiled is the wrong word. They've raised my expectations so that I know "less than" when I see it.

We are a long-distance client of our consultant. I wish we were close enough to see the entire staff more often.

When we are there, we are typically with our consultant for three days at a time, interacting with, seeing the entire staff in passing, during our three-day visit. We see client families come in and leave. We see them interact with one another. We've driven the distance to join them for a family activity, and I saw the same standards on a cold Saturday at a pumpkin patch.

Every single member of the staff has changed her way of being with the students. Each one slows down, says things once, and waits for the child to hear, process & respond; they use an incredible amount of experience sharing language (sometimes referred to as declaratives), and they don't pepper children with "wh" questions. EVERY interaction to them is an opportunity for the child to make a discovery, EVEN when the child is the client of another therapist in the building. For example, if we meet another consultant on the narrow stairs, that consultant may pause at the landing and greet us, especially my child, and wait for her to realize that we're going to collide if we don't co-regulate and coordinate, and allow her an opportunity to do some thinking and take some actions on her own.

The fact that every single staff member in the building operates from this perspective absolutely amazes me.

I have not found staff in my own area who are trained this way, who are changed. I'm frustrated. We switched clinics, recently, and we were assigned to a wonderful speech therapist and a wonderful OT. The OT is especially good about slowing down and waiting, speaking once and allowing my daughter the space she needs to hear and process and reply.

Because therapists share the "gym" and the therapy rooms, I see a lot of the staff members working with other children. And the other staff members sometimes interact with my daughter when she's there, if they need to share a swing or if they're walking in her path while she's riding her bike in the "gym" area.

Overwhelmingly, I see other therapists barreling through, not slowing down, not letting children have that processing time that they need to hear, process, and respond.

Yesterday, a precious two year old girl was working on batting a baseball and she left the therapist and her grandmother to get on a swing, and the therapist told her, "Come back, one more!" and when the child did not turn around instantly, the therapist repeated the directions TWO MORE TIMES rapid fire and then reached for the girl and brought her back. That is a recipe for, "I don't have to pay attention; someone will repeat directions several times for me and physically direct me." And when that little girl gets to school, there's a risk that she'll be labeled "noncompliant" when she's simply been trained not to attend. The staff is missing opportunities.

One session, another therapist brought her client into my daughter's therapy room to do some sensory activities, and yet another therapist came in and the two therapists chatted about losing clients in this difficult economy while the client spent time crashing into mats and swinging. There was little interaction with the boy. More missed opportunities. My daughter's super OT was engaged with my child at the same time. The contrast was interesting.

As one of our OT sessions began, I watched one therapist heading to the lobby, late, to get her client, and she had a moment to interact with my daughter as she avoided tripping over her (my daughter was in the gym on a bike), and the therapist had a beautiful opportunity to stop for a moment and allow my daughter to see, process and stop herself, too, to avoid a collision. The therapist MISSED the opportunity. (I thought she might have even been rude.)

I could type many examples. The point, though, is that children with developmental delays need opportunities to experience active participation, both mentally and physically (and at church, add "spiritually" to that list, but I'm off topic, now), and the majority of clinics and school programs I've seen are still operating from something other than developmental remediation programs.

When are more clinics (and schools, but that's a whole nuther problem) going to "get" a developmental perspective? I'm waiting!

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