Sunday, 9 January 2011

Mushroom ketchup

Chopping mushrooms, frying and mixing with tinned tomatoes to make a ‘ketchup’ that we can use as a base for our soup today and the base for pizzas tomorrow.

Philip is ‘not-Jamie’ and I am ‘not-Nigella’……..welcome to our kitchen and the start of many adventures in cooking and remediating autism.

I will be putting a clip on the next blogpost of us making the ketchup – sorry the light is so poor :(  We ran out of bulbs and you can see in the clip that I have brought the kids’ light up globe into the kitchen in a vain attempt to shed more light on the proceedings……failing miserably!!

Philip has autism and we have been using the autism intervention ‘Relationship Development Intervention’ (RDI) for the past 4 years to help him to develop more flexible, adaptive thinking…..remediating the rigid thinking that is at the heart of autism (and a good many other developmental delays).

RDI uses interpersonal engagement as the vehicle to work on the core difficulties in autism.

We have been using RDI for the last 4 year – sort of off and on, so it’s not been a continuous 4 years.  We’ve had the usual saga of difficulties with educational placements and SEN tribunals that beset most families of children with autism. We have just had the ruling from our 4th tribunal (in our favour…hurray!!) – so are kinda SEN tribunal veterans.

Our RDI programme has also been interrupted by cancer – twice – we were both diagnosed within a year of each other but thankfully we have both had the all clear, subject to ongoing monitoring.

It was when Dixon (my husband) got stomach cancer that RDI finally fell into place for me.  I was so frightened by what might happen if Dixon didn’t respond to the chemo that one day when he was in hospital I just determined to go for it with RDI….at least that was something that I could try to exercise some control over.  Something clicked into place and although we were just changing beds and sorting washing, I found Philip kept wanting to do more with me, which was a real turn-around.

That’s the thing with children who have autism – they find social communication so difficult that they often avoid it…….who can blame them?  I too avoid things that are difficult for me.

Philip doesn’t avoid doing things with me now – thanks to RDI, he not only enjoys it, but his social competence is improving, and along with it his own self-confidence and self-esteem.  In an 18 month period of measuring the severity of Philip’s autism, his ADOS score went from 19 out of 22 (very high), to 12.  In some ways, we didn’t really need the measure, as our family quality of life had improved immeasurably……but being able to show the change was useful at a couple of tribunals where we made the case for RDI to be part of Philip’s educational provision.

We still have a long way to go with remediation….but at least we are going in the right direction. 

The objective I am working on at the moment with Philip focuses on him taking responsibility to make sure his actions match mine.  This means that he has to shift his focus from what he’s doing to what I’m doing and correct what he is doing if it’s not in synchrony with me.

We do all that without me ‘directing’ him or telling him what to do.  He has to want to stay in synchrony with me – that is one of the cornerstones of RDI – developing the intrinsic motivation within the child to want to be in a truly reciprocal relationship, and to take his share of the responsibility for ensuring the interaction is on track.

So it’s not really about the mushroom ketchup – it’s about the relationship……the ‘goal beneath the goal’.



  1. Thank you for such a honest and informative post. Well done on the tribunal and so pleased you have both been given the all clear. Great news. Wishing you success for the future your doing a fantastic job

    wendy xx

  2. Thanks Wendy, that's lovely feedback to receive.