Nate and I had another incredibly informative session with our family’s RDI consultant last night. After being congratulated on looking more awake this time around (woot!), we started discussing our successes and difficulties with regards to communicating and working with Michael. There have been very extreme steps forward and backward depending on how he is feeling, but overall, Michael has made excellent progress since we have implemented the program several months ago. He is slowly and painfully modifying his speech, he is truly trying to communicate original thought, though it is still often wrapped in pre-programmed packages.
One area that we still struggle with are his outbursts. Michael has no filter, no ability to temper himself in cases of extreme emotion, whether happy or angry. This often results in him hurting those around him, usually a defenseless younger brother. We discussed what happens in these cases, and our consultant recommended a plan for us to try and physically walk Michael through transitioning him in and out of these moments. She called it being his “boundary holder” as he is unable to stay within one by himself right now. It’s going to be like conditioning him to learn to control his body. I am very excited about this process because if Michael can gain some ground in this area, it will make family life incredibly better for all of us.
The RDI consultant did warn us that this will be a LONG and DIFFICULT process. (Two words we all love hearing, yes?) For days, if not weeks, for each outburst, we will have to physically walk him through. Every. Single. Time. She’s teaching us the words to use, the message to reach him with, techniques to use to avoid physical injury (he’s getting very strong). Believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to this a little, not the challenge so much, but I know we have to walk through it to get to the very tantalizing reward at the other end. And learning techniques that actually work is always morale boosting. My one concern in all this is the very grounding thought that we have two other children. Dropping everything dozens of times a day for indefinite periods of times is definitely going to make life more interesting (because it was so boring to begin with). Our consultant did remind us that working through this is going to benefit them too in the long run, and I have to remember that. My prayer is that God gives us a lot of grace, wisdom, and patience, and that this process goes miraculously quickly and smoothly.
We were advised not to start until this weekend so there would be two parents on deck for the first few days, so that’s what we’re going to do. However, just for laughs, Nate tried it last night when Michael fell apart after we returned home, and he was very impressed as to how well Michael responded. Training Michael to contain himself and not to cross personal, physical boundaries as often is going to be something that benefits us all, and I pray that this is something we can accomplish.
Here’s hoping we have good reports in a week or two!