I often talk about our RDI 'objectives', but realise that readers may not necessarily understand what they are.
RDI is a staged program, based on the steps of normal childhood development, which have been broken down into parts or 'objectives.' Like most things in life, you can't learn the big things until you've learned the introductory steps.
So, for example, in order for a child to be able to look at his mother in the face when he talks to her (which is a big problem for autistic children), he must have first learned things like: facial expressions are interesting and he can 'see' what his mother is thinking when he looks at her face.
We are currently at Stage 5 of 12 in our RDI program. Bright Eyes has indeed learned that my face is interesting, and that he can look to my face for information, and he is beginning to look at me more consistently when he talks to me.
We tend to work on one or two objectives at a time. Right now we're trying to focus on 'you need to think before you speak', and it is taking forever - like three or four months. I need to slow down a lot to help model it, which is tricky for me, and we have hit a few brick walls over the last few months.
The technical language for these objectives is as follows:
A critical part of learning to be an effective communicator is recognizing that both he and partners require time to process and think about their partners communications, prior to responding. We want the child to assume that, when he asks questions and makes statements, his partners will want to pause and consider them prior to responding. As we all know when we are in a thinking mode our gaze tends to go "skyward" and our facial expression becomes thoughtful. The child can learn to recognize when partners are "thinking."
The second objective is this:
This elaborative lesson focuses on understanding that effective communication requires both parties to pause and consider the responses of their partners as well as their own reactions and contributions. We want to make sure that the child recognizes that communication is intrinsically linked to mental engagement. Therefore we want to see that the child habitually stops to process her partner's communications. She should also routinely pause to formulate what she is thinking about in the hopes that it will make more sense to partners.
So, my plan for the next few weeks is to model "Hmmm, hang on, let me think about that!" before I say anything, and almost overexaggerate the fact that I'm thinking before I'm speaking. Then to encourage him to think before he speaks by saying, "Can you think about that so that it makes more sense?"