Here’s why I love Relationship Development Intervention (RDI). John, our RDI Consultant, came over last week. We sat down at the table and I  presented the challenge of Joseph’s anxiety to him. He asked some questions about it and then said he wanted to see the anxiety for himself.

So I removed myself from the premises, sneaking outside to water the garden. John sauntered over to Joseph, who was busy playing the drums, and asked him, “Where’s your mom?”

Immediately Joseph put down the drumsticks, looked around the room and hollered, “MOM?” When I didn’t answer, he went from room to room looking for me. He turned to John and said, “Maybe she’s taken Checkers (the dog) for a walk.”

We interrupt this story to give you John’s interpretation of what happened. Seems to be pretty normal stuff, right? Just a kid looking for his mom, right?

That’s just the point: it’s pretty normal!

1. He called for me. It took YEARS to get him to call for me.

2. He looked for me. Ditto the above statement.

3. He came up with a theory as to where I was. This is good. Very good. The kid is thinking outside the box.

4. He wanted to know where  I was. John pointed out that some of his clients couldn’t care less where their mothers are. They are complete in their world of one.

A different perspective from the one I had in my last post.

Eventually, Joseph did start to show anxiety. John helped him through it, taking him outside to look for me — and, voila, finding me.

Afterward, we sat down at the table again. John recommended that I practice disappearing from Joseph’s sight. He suggested we play hide and seek, where I  really hide well so that I’m gone for a good while and Joseph learns how to truly look for me. He also suggested going to public places with one other adult and me leaving them to use the bathroom for an extended period of time. When Joseph shows anxiety, the other adult can keep feeding him the information that I’m simply in the bathroom.

Practice, practice, practice, John says. Slowly, but surely, Joseph will learn.

Oh, I love RDI. However do people cope without knowledgeable support when they are dealing with autism? If you don’t have enough support with  your autistic child, please move heaven and earth to get it. Your kid needs to know you won’t give up on him or her, and you need to know you have someone in your corner, coaching you and rooting for you both.