Today we travelled to Peterborough for a training session with our wonderfully supportive Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) consultant. We have face-to-face live sessions every three months or so in which we discuss our progress and undertake some activities with Ellen under our consultant’s guidance.
Ellen decided to go and hide when we arrived (a favourite activity), so that gave the adults an opportunity to talk through the areas which we feel we need help with. For Richard (hubbie) this was slowing down his communication and focussing on commenting rather than questioning. For me, I need to practice using gesture for experience sharing rather than simply using it to replace instructions. I also need to try and increase my experience sharing communication generally – aiming for 80% of the time during interactions – gulp!
One of the most important things that Richard and I need to remember is that the activities we do with Ellen are not ‘tasks’ they are experiences and our only task is to enjoy the experience with her. This is a great message and may explain why in the past the activities which have a less defined ‘end’ (i.e. play dough) have been more effective than others (pumpkin carving).
Our consultant had organised two creative activities for us to do with Ellen; sand bracelets and sewing. As Richard was gallant (or naiive) enough to give me first choice, I chose to do the sand bracelets. We spent time talking through how we would go about approaching these tasks with Ellen and then went to find her. We found her ‘hiding’ in the living room, happily curled up on the purple bobbly rug she had discovered and very excited to be found.
It’s approximately a year ago that we first started RDI with Ellen. During our first session at the consultant’s house, we spent about 90% of the time dealing with ‘resistance’, i.e. Ellen determined not to do the activity that our consultant was trying to model for us. Well, what a difference a year makes! There was no resistance at all, and despite Ellen spending the first couple of minutes more interested in talking about where we had found her than the task, she very quickly got involved in both activities.
With the sand bracelets, she chose the colours which were to make up each bracelet and took a turn at pouring in the sand. I think if there had been more than three bracelets she would have happily continued on with this activity and afterwards she looped the bracelets happily on her arm.
Richard had the more time-consuming sewing task ahead of him. Ellen decided that she was making a ‘growling tiger’ and Richard’s stomach intermittently growled in agreement. For Richard this was a brilliant activity and he let Ellen lead the way in ‘tiger design’ and elicited some lovely communication from her ‘another eye please’ and ‘triangle nose please’.
We came away all fired up with enthusiasm and determined to visit Poundland to snap up all their bargain crafting sets!
As a funny aside, we were talking about having a ‘project’ which we could do over several evenings with Ellen and I thought it might be nice to make a nativity scene. If you type in ‘craft nativity scene’ into Google, the first website which appears in the listings is tamponcrafts.com – ‘for any time of the month’. It appears their nativity scene has caused serious offence and has been removed, but the instructions for Christmas Lights are still there if anyone’s interested! http://www.tamponcrafts.com/lights.html