The Relate Program

This description is written by a parent participant in the Relate program, based on conversations with staff and her own experiences.

The Relate Program is open to families who have a child whose developmental disability limits their ability to speak or communicate functionally.  It is provided by Specialized Communication Resources for Children, a department of the Rehabilitation Centre for Children.  Currently the program employs two consultants.  It is a RDI-based program, which means that the goal is to train parents to restore the natural guiding relationship that parents and children normally have, and to help children learn to think and interact with the world in new ways.  You can read more about that here.

The gateway to the Relate program is a 7-evening seminar,  Promoting Flexible Thinking and Communication with Your Child at Home, which goes through the basics of the RDI approach and helps parents get an initial idea of what’s involved.  The seminar is open to all parents, regardless of diagnosis or ability level of the child.  The concepts presented could apply to most situations and provide really good parenting advice, with a particular look at helping with developmental delays.   There is a small “take it home” bit of homework at the end of every session.  It’s also nice to have an opportunity to meet and talk with other parents after each session of the seminar.

Parents who want to continue to explore these strategies more deeply, and whose children meet the entry criteria (non-speaking or severely limited in functional communication) can apply to enter the Relate Program.  The application process involves lots of forms and some video footage of your child demonstrating their ability to communicate and interact.

The Relate program begins with an introductory phase in which you explore your thoughts and goals for your child, and the logistics of the program are introduced.  There is an online teaching website that’s used to share assignments and post video and reflections.  Participation in the program also provides access to a worldwide community of families and therapists who are also doing RDI, including discussion boards, webinars, and newsletters.

Every 2 or 3 weeks, parents meet with their consultant at the Rehabilitation Centre.  Participation of both parents is strongly encouraged.  Each visit, there is a topic to focus on and an assignment to carry out, which often involves taking video to illustrate and examine interactions.  The actual “homework” probably takes an hour or two per week, but the preparation for doing each assignment is made up of many interactions with the child throughout each day.  This program won’t be effective unless parents are willing to put it into practice.

Completion of the intense phase of the program is expected to take 24-36 months.  The consultant remains available to help with difficulties after that.

For inquiries, or to register for Promoting Flexible Thinking and Communication with Your Child at Home, contact Yvonne Kash at:

Rehabilitation Centre for Children
633 Wellington Crescent
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 0A8
Phone: (204) 452-4311(204) 452-4311
Fax: (204) 477-5547

or email her here.