The core belief of CPS – collaborative problem solving approach is that children do well if they can and the preferred choice is to be successful , adaptive and act in an effective and appropriate way. They display a lack various cognitive skills especially when the demands placed on these skills outstrip their coping skills and leave us with many unsolved problems.
The problem solving process does many things - it solves outstanding problems, trains the various cognitive skills on-the-job , in the real environment and of course improves the relationship between care giver and child.
We don't have to just focus on unsolved problems to train the various cognitive skills . Cognitive skills can be learned and trained when we collaborate with kids in day-to-day living. If we engage their thinking, support their autonomy and try to find as many opportunities as possible to engage them and work with them , we then promote these ' dynamic ' cognitive skills. A big advantage of these activities is that they are non-emotive and can be fun. Problem solving often comes along with ' emotional baggage' and stress.
RDI ' relationship development intervention ' focuses on promoting thinking and other cognitive and communication skills when the care giver guides the child by collaborating in real life activities. The approach is being used for many behavioral challenging kids including kids on the autism spectrum. Instead of teaching skills in a top-down clinical way so the skills are static, skills learned in the context of a relationship and real life experiences are dynamic.
I have written about RDI - september 2010
ABA , RDI and CPS
An example of this, is using the ' Kitchen as a classroom'. Collaboration in the kitchen teaches so many skills -
executive functions - planning , organizing , making space , consequential, sequential thinking , problem solving , buying , cleaning up
social skills , cognitive flexibility - perspective taking , taking into account other people's view
language processing skills etc
It can also be important one on one time , where general chatting and perspective taking around the kitchen activity also promotes connection and relationship.
Here is a blog post by the author of ' The kitchen as a classroom '. She is a mom of a child on the autism spectrum and uses RDI with her son around day-to-day activities
Cooking our way through RDI