Monday 4 June 2012

Example of an RDI assignment: working on 'Planning for imperfection and mistakes' with a child

A fellow RDI Consultant, Libby, came up with this great idea of sharing an example of the kind of assignments we work on in RDI so that people can see how RDI is put into practice in real life family situations. Libby was kind enough to agree to share some of her assignments on my blog (big thanks Libby).

Please note that this is being shared to show how parents can become empowered through working with a highly trained consultant when take the Consultant’s guidance and apply it on their own without waiting for next therapy appointment, social skills class, etc.  
It is not recommended that parents who want to try RDI dive in with this objective as there may be many foundations that would need to be mastered before a child could work at this level as well as many objectives that parents would need to work on in order to be able to competently guide their child at this level.
For those who are interested in working directly with a consultant to create an individualized plan based on a rigorous assessment of the parent-child guiding relationship, please visit

Sample Parent Assignment

By Libby Majewski, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

As posted on Facebook (www.facebook/ 6/3/12

Dynamic Intelligence Objective: Planning for Imperfection and Mistakes

Here is an example of an assignment I recently wrote to a parent who was working alongside and guiding her son as they planned a big lemonade sale at their church. This was a project that took several weeks of planning and preparation and the mom shared every step of the way with me (I'm very lucky). I, in turn, guided her with assignments and feedback. Below, I am guiding her to make sure she works with her son on "When Things Go Wrong" as they always do in any big project. Please note that all names and personal information have been changed - the purpose of sharing this is to give the community an idea as to how a developmental/cognitive approach can empower parents.

Please share thoughts or questions.

Hi J,

Here is your next assignment as you continue on with the lemonade sale project. I'd like to explore with D his expectations for the sale and also the theme of ‘Mistakes or When Things Go Wrong’. Although he is practicing a lot at home and is working hard and preparing, the sale, in fact, is probably going to be VERY different than the times he's been practicing. With that in mind, I'd like to work a little on planning for imperfection and having realistic expectations (that mistakes will happen, that it's going to be hectic maybe, that he may run out of certain things that he is selling, etc).

Here is some info from Dr. Gutstein's new dynamic intelligence curriculum that equates to where D is at this point:

- Constructs realistic expectations for mistakes.

- Does not routinely predict perfect performance and is not surprised or upset when he makes mistakes.

- Understands that there is no reason to get upset when you make a mistake, because everyone makes mistakes. Communicates about mistakes as a normal part of life

- Willing and able to co-participate with Guides to productively evaluate mistakes and learn from them

(by Dr. Steve Gutstein,

Work Product: Please show me 1-2 clips of film footage where you and D are discussing (you can make a list if you want) about how the sale will be great especially because you prepared and planned so well and that D took on so much responsibility and made great decisions. In addition to all the positives, show me how you guide D through a discussion about potential things that could go wrong such as if he makes a mistake, or if things get too hectic, too confusing, etc.

Here are things you could/should cover as you discuss the upcoming sale:

Does D expect the sale to go exactly as you and he have practiced and planned? If not (you may have to lead him to the fact that it will be different), how does he predict it will be different? Try to list (just discuss or make a list) some possible differences that D anticipates (with your help).

Does D think it will be busy at the table and crowded? If so, does he think it will be crowded and busy the whole time? If he thinks it's going to be super busy, how will he (just one boy) handle it? Does he have a back-up plan to ask someone for help?

What if someone (D, you, etc.) makes a mistake? Will it be a big deal or not? Will he be surprised if someone makes a mistake? If not, why not (because we all make mistakes!)
What if he runs out of certain things that people want to buy? What will he do? These are all good questions to explore with him (you are free to dig around these questions with him as much or as little as you want – you do not have to ask all these or pose all these situations to him at once).

Keep in Mind: this can be a fluid conversation with D just sitting together or you can make it like a worksheet where you and he are thinking and answering questions together. You could each do your own sheet and give your own answers privately (not collaborating) and then compare your answers.

Due Date: next Wed

Let me know if you have any questions,


For a child to have got to this stage, two things have happened. The parent has become a competent guide – so she is using pausing, pacing, scaffolding, limit-setting, spotlighting, framing, modeling, declarative language and non-verbal communication to enable the child to reference for information and emotion-sharing, to initiate and respond to joint attention, to co-regulate and self-regulate and to increasingly productively manage uncertainty.

The child has mastered developmental foundations that will include: taking increasing responsibility for co-regulation, initiating and responding to joint attention, not automatically withdrawing from uncertainty, being motivated as an active apprentice, communicating for experience-sharing purposes, comparing reactions to the guide’s reactions, anticipating partner’s reactions (and many more).

So hopefully you can see why it’s not a good idea to jump into working on this objective without first making sure that the underpinning developmental competencies are in place. It would be setting the child up to fail – like expecting them to do calculus without first having learned to add up.For me this is the beauty of RDI and of working with a trained Consultant. 

It’s all about enabling your child to be competent and to have experiences of success, making sure (via the Consultant’s supervision and support) that everything that needs to be in place for that to happen is in place. So the Consultant ensures that parents are competent as guides and that the underpinning developmental foundations are in place for the child and then empowers parents to be as creative as they like in using RDI as an integral part of their everyday lives to promote their child’s dynamic intelligence. 

Questions and comments welcome!


  1. Great post Zoe and Libby! :)
    I have a question for you both!! You know that I am an RDI mum and that I LOVE how RDI is helping me and my boy.
    I live in a country where the majority of people live below the poverty line. We also don't have any RDI Consultants here. (If I had the bucks I would love to do the training!!).
    My question is this:- is there any way that RDI can be shared to help families who are interested in RDI but cannot afford the program? I understand that commencing with the whole program would not be possible, however, what about sharing some information on changing communication style?

  2. Hi Di

    Glad you liked Libby's post.

    Re your question about sharing RDI with families who cant afford the programme, I think there are many possible answers to this depending on the perspective and experience of the person answering the question (that sounds familiar!!)

    I think that whilst there may be no Consultants operating from within SA, there will be Consultants who travel there for clients (eg your own Consultant?) so there are certainly people who could work there.

    I know that some Consultants run short courses/workshops that look at the principles and practice behind RDI, and how some simple strategies could be put into place to help families (eg changing communication style) so I know it is possible for that work to be done.

    If I was in your situation, I think I would look at setting up a charity that could access grant funding that would be able to cover running some of these type of courses/briefings. If setting up a charity wasnt possible, I would look at setting up some other kind of organisation that could raise funds eg via sponsored walks, garden parties etc etc plus I would be trying to show the great and the good (influential and/or rich people) the benefits of RDI so that they would help me (time, money, resources) to make it accessible to those with fewer resources.

    Those are my thoughts - hopefully others will also chip in with suggestions.


    1. Hi Zoe, thanks for answering the Question. And thanks to Di for posting such a relevant question that South Africa faces.
      I too love what Rdi Learnings have to offer, and it is definitely on my bucket list of things to do. Affordability is definitely a gloomy cloud that hangs over our heads. Families spend a large portion of their salary each month for basic intervention, throw RDI fees into the mix of therapy, and the cost can become unbearable for the majority of middle class families raising a child with autism. For a consultant to come out here to do short course work, the cost of that would also be enormous for families to cover. For someone to train as a consultant is also crazy expensive, and to recuperate that cost of training in South African currency term would also be a lengthy process whereby services would only be accessible to elite. Its just so sad that it all boils down to money.
      I hear your point that perhaps fund raising would be great, and yes it would be, but when you are living in a country that barely has enough educational facilities for children on the spectrum, im sure you can see where funds are prioritised.
      I think it would be great if RDI could offer scholarship opportunities for countries such as South Africa.
      Afterall we all striving for the same goal....To help children on the spectrum grow and develop to be as independant and happy as possible in this chaotic world we live in.

  3. Hi Charlene

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'basic intervention'....what does that entail?

    If a Consultant was already visiting SA to see a client or a number of clients, then perhaps the cost could be split between a number of families?

    What about a Consultant doing presentations by Skype? I've seen that work in a lecture theatre type setting - no need for cosrlt travel and accommodation fees.

    I like your idea of scholarship opportunities. If there were several parents who could lobby together,perhaps it would be worth approaching the Connections Centre directly?

  4. This is a post I posted two months ago! Anyone is able to apply for a scholarship. the more request, the more possibility that AHA will grant scholarship!!
    Hi Everyone!
    I saw that there were a few discussions concerning trying to implement RDI on your I wanted to remind anyone who is interested in applying for a possible scholarship (for sometime in the future)... below is the older post concerning how to apply- I would love to have families be able to have a consultant as I do feel it is crucial...I too did RDI on my own for over a year back in 2006-2007 but needed a consultant for more direction once I took my child as far as I could without having that extra set of eyes and knowing how to target milestones!!

    Here is the tutorial on how to request this possible RDI scholarship- Please read below for more information-

    Hi All!
    I know that some of you have contacted me in the past about scholarships, etc…and this topic is dear to my heart. I just got off the phone with Tom Bohager, he is the President of Enzymedica. They are the enzymes that I used with my son when I was dealing with his gut issues!! J_ Fantastic product. So, he is going to put my website info/RDI info on his Autism hope website in the next few days…and we talked about scholarships. So he wants to hear from YOU! . He wants to hear from you if you would like help getting RDI funded for your family! There is nothing set up right now but he told me to just have people write to him, under my name so he sees there is a need. I know what it is like to be a parent wanting something for your child and family yet the funds just are not there. Hoping this can turn into a real opportunity to help families in the future!! Even if you do not need funding help but just want to drop him a note singing the praises of RDI…that would be excellent!!

    So please go and fill out the form so Tom can see that our families would love to have more funding options..he is the one who answers the financial aid for medical advice so he will personally receive your requests!

    Go to-

    Click on Aid in the top toolbar ( After the home page)

    Financial aid for Medical Advice
    Apply to receive financial assistance for doctors visits and testing.
    Select "Financial Aid for Medical Advice" in the form on the right.
    Fill out the form on the right requesting RDI help ( financial aid for medical advice)!! Mention my name "Kathy Darrow" as the one who sent you.

    Like I said, Tom and I just had a great conversation about our kids!! He will be the one who receives your requests! Do it now before you forget J

    Let me know if you have any questions!


  5. Hi everyone,
    I am so glad to see this conversation going on. We need lots more of them so we can figure out a way to get awareness about the need for support of a developmental approach (RDI). Kathy, I will share your post about scholarships with many others!!


  6. Thanks Libby, and here is the town Hall meeting I just attended and I got to straight up ask the Governor...and got his private email to get with him on this issue!! My question is at 1.13.19