Static vs. Dynamic Systems
Understanding the difference in static versus dynamic systems is essential when implementing RDI™. It is in fact the very central issue when you are talking about autism. Understanding static vs dynamic systems and how they apply to autism has changed forever the way I understand and work with autism.
The underlying or core deficit in autism is an inability to function in dynamic systems, which leads to a desire to operate only in static systems.
In static systems, the goal is maintenance of system sameness. Novel information is disruptive and aversive. I believe one of the examples Dr G used in Raleigh was McDonald’s. People know that when they go there, the food will basically always be the same, no matter where they are in the world. The sameness of it is somewhat comforting. Another example I have heard is when you buy a coke from machine. You put your money in, push the button and get what you want. There is really very little joy in that procedure, and the result is almost always the same. If something goes wrong (the wrong drink comes out, nothing happens, etc) you get aggravated. Static systems lead to instrumental goals. Emotional reactions are irrelevant and often disruptive.
In dynamic systems, the integration of novel information with pre- existing data is the goal. Changes in emotional reactions are critical information used for regulation. The world is a dynamic place. The only constant is change. Dynamic systems are clearly apparent when you consider relationships. But dynamic systems also encompass other aspects of life. Life is a dynamic system.
Dr Gutstein taught me that static and dynamic systems actually use different neural pathways in the brain. By spotlighting and emphasizing the different developmental pathways, we can help people who have autism to “exercise” these different neural pathways and gain competence in dynamic systems. Declarative communication, experience sharing, emotional cooRDI™nation, relative thinking, and episodic memory are all important and essential to gain competence in dynamic systems. These are the areas that are directly addressed through RDI™.
Do I believe it is possible to teach these areas? Yes. I do. I believe it is essential.