Friday 15 January 2016

Jo's spontaneous guiding

This is a wonderful piece of footage from Jo, who is Lucy’s key-worker at Bright Futures School.  Jo is a trainee guide at school and only started learning about guiding (using the principles of RDI) in September 2015.  I think you’ll agree that she has made excellent progress as a guide in a very short space of time. 

In relation to the text below that describes Jo’s footage with Lucy, I (Zoe) am in green, Jo is in black and Sharon’s feedback is in blue.  Sharon is the external RDI Consultant who helps to moderate and supervises our RDI-based guiding at school.

What is just brilliant about this piece of footage is that it shows how Jo has absorbed the guiding way of working – it has become instinctive to her, to the point where she is able to use it spontaneously in an unplanned situation. 

She isn’t thinking…. “Ohhhh……role sets/slow down/use pausing/declarative language/limit-setting” 

Instead, she sees the guiding opportunities presented by Lucy’s idea of using the music and is able to spontaneously channel this into a co-regulatory pattern.  We do this (running with a child’s idea but putting it into a co-reg pattern) with our typically developing kids all the time, without even thinking about it, right from birth.

Jo’s feedback

Lucy suggested using music.  I went with this, realising that there would be plenty of opportunities for co-regulation using the simultaneous parallel role set.  Lucy led the song with her imagination, being the first to ‘fall down’.

In terms of ‘framing’ the activity, this is what I had in my head:

What is it about - simultaneous parallel role set (both doing the same thing at the same time)

Roles and responsibilities - To sing and do the actions at the same time 

Communication for joint reference points – around singing together; around any anticipation that I build up; when something funny or surprising happens.

Time codes:

0.05 Dynamic gaze, on the cue of “accidentally fall” we both fall together. This could be social referencing around uncertainty ('should I go now?') or it could be around sharing the emotion of the moment.

0.13 I use a declarative invitation “Meerkats again!” rather than imperatively telling Lucy to sit up again  (imperatives = making a demand, issuing a command)

0.16 I decide to add more simultaneous parallel movements to see what Lucy does…she doesn’t copy

0.21 I pat Lucy’s leg so she can feel the rhythm Nice scaffold

0.27 Lucy pats her own legs

0.30 Lucy looks up at my arms and imitates

0.46 Lucy joins in with the patting straight away this time

0.55 Lucy references when I use pausing and she co-regs by completing with the word “fall”. Great stuff!

1.07 This time I don’t need to pat Lucy’s legs, she pats hers whilst I pat mine

1.34 Lucy uses an alternative rhythm.  I realise this is a ‘just noticeable difference’ (JND) so I roll with her variation – the action is different but we are still in the simultaneous parallel role set.   

In everyday life, we move in and out of different role sets all the time.  To be an effective part of a team and to be socially reciprocal in an interaction, we have to be able to adapt to the different role expectations of our partners/team members that come with each of the ever-changing role sets.  Hence Jo’s practising of different role sets.

1.42 I add anticipation and Lucy social references. This also acts as a JND as you aren't lying down at the same point as you have other times

1.53 We share emotion (dynamic gaze) and I spotlight the celebration of success……that we did it together :)

What you have demonstrated here is what used to be termed 'RDI on the fly'.  Basically you've ingrained what is needed for the role set & have been able to adapt in the moment so that you are able to accept Lucy's suggestion and put it into a co-reg pattern.  This is likely to happen more & more as you & Lucy recognise and play around with the opportunities of 'same but different' in everyday life.

All looking really good, no other feedback needed: pausing, pacing, communication, JND's, spotlighting, role sets, scaffolding all spot on. 

‘Same but different’ (same role set but different action) is one way of adding variety to interactions…..making things interesting, spicing them up. Being in a co-regulatory role set also gives us feelings of competence and experiences of success as we elaborate on each others' ideas and co-create something more exciting than what we started out with.   

These feelings of competence then fuel motivation.  Why bother interacting?  Because it’s fun, we learn things, we get feelings of competence, success and satisfaction from it.  One reason people with autism are sometimes not motivated to engage is because they haven’t experienced these payoffs….it’s easy to understand why someone wouldn’t bother interacting if it’s difficult (because the skill of being able to co-regulate is missing), it always feels like a chore and you don’t get positive feelings from it.

We can really get a feel here for how much Lucy is enjoying interacting with Jo.  She is clearly relaxed, comfortable and having fun......she has got the 'why bother?'  

Well done Jo and Lucy!

Compare this to the footage here of the first time I interacted with Lucy.  

Audience participation required!!  I'm interested to see what people make of the two pieces of footage.  Please leave your observations about the differences you can see in Lucy in the blog comments.  Thanks!


  1. The two pieces of footage are like night and day. In the first clip, Lucy takes very little notice of anyone else in the room. She doesn't join in and she is unmotivated/unable to take turns. She is very object-focused. She finds it more fun to play with the animals in her own way (like putting the horse on her head). In the second clip, she is so attuned to Jo and she is doing so many neurotypical things, like referencing, imitating, and co-regulating. These clips are what I show my family when they ask about what RDI is. These clips are full of hope for other autism parents like me.

  2. Lauren thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Your feedback gave me goosebumps and made my day! I'll be sharing it with staff at school tomorrow :)