In addition to RDI®, our facility utilizes Occupational Therapy techniques throughout the day and provides Occupational Therapy services. Our founder, Kris Worell, is a licensed Occupational Therapist and we also staff an Occupational Therapist Assistant. Dynamic Connections primarily uses Occupational Therapy to promote regulation, self care skills, and motor skills.
The following strategies help us achieve these ideas with our clients:
- The Alert Program®, aka The Cognitive Approach to Self Regulation, aka The Engine Program. This approach helps children explore and use different sensory processing strategies to help them stay focused and attentive. Strategies can be used to recover from upsets or excitement, to maintain and continue a focused activity, etc.
- Sensory Diet. This approach is one of regular, scheduled activities involving basic sensory input such as pressure touch, movement, and oral. These strategies help compensate for sensory processing difficulties and assist with organized behavior throughout the day. Examples; 5 minute swing break first thing in the morning, a pillow squish mid day, chewing gum during table top activities.
At Dynamic Connections we have expanded these programs to include emotional and cognitive components of regulation. We find this immeasurably helpful when physical strategies do not improve regulation.
We encourage increased responsibility and at the same time recognize that kids need to learn a small piece at a time and experience each step of success. We present these milestones as "self control levels" to clients as a helpful way to spotlight achievement. We believe self control evolves from regulation and it evolves from physical regulation, emotional regulation, and cognitive regulation.
RDI® Parent Coaching and Assessments
Parent coaching is extremely important to the integrity of the RDI® program. RDI® emphasizes each trusted adult’s, each guide’s, strategies with their child and/or student. A guide’s role when teaching our children or clients is to provide security while encouraging new challenges. These are the "small challenges" described on our homepage. This balance pairing security with uncertainty is called the Zone of Proximity and it frequently changes in response to individual development!
Kris Worrell is our RDI® Consultant. She performs relationship development assessments, introduces parents and caregivers to the guided participation relationship, develops intervention plans with parents for both Dynamic Connections and home, and provides on-going family consultation. Kris, as a guide, initially provides generous guidance towards structure (framework) and scaffolding (support), then incorporates family and individual strengths and interests, and ultimately plays a more passive role to consult while parents, caregivers, and individual clients begin confidently and almost naturally taking the lead to determine their own path of development.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to join program activities. We use these opportunities to highlight the core deficits described on our homepage. Through pauses during the activity and video taping to evaluate afterwards, we notice effective strategies, celebrate interactions and solve problems. A staff is available for support or simply to share in the experience the entire time. At Dynamic Connections, we are so proud of the work we do and love sharing with everyone who is interested.
Mary L. Wandrei, PhD, has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years and has been a licensed psychologist since 1998. She was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Marquette University for several years before returning to her home state of Minnesota in 2006. Dr. Wandrei is currently a psychotherapist with offices in White Bear Lake, MN, where she works primarily with gifted children and adults. She has a number of special interests for working with children, including assessment, coaching, and psychotherapy for gifted and talented and twice-exceptional children; Asperger’s Syndrome screening/consultation; school adjustment and educational planning; and consultation around executive functioning, anxiety, depression, sensory processing, and temperament issues. She has presented on these topics to parents, educators, and mental health professionals through the MN Council for Gifted and Talented, the MN Department of Education, MN Institute for Talented Youth, Project2Excel, and other public and private conference engagements.
This model is also defined as Educational Kinesiology. Brain Gym® believes that movement with intention promotes learning and integration to both mind and body. These exercises connect and promote activity in areas of the body and brain. There are groups of exercises which focus on different intentions from grounding/calming activities to activities to encourage multiple processing. Similar to our regulation and social strategies, Brain Gym® considers physical, emotional, and cognitive integration. To learn more visit their website braingym.org
Successful communication involves the ability to hear a message, process the information, formulate a response, initiate and motor plan a response verbally in a socially appropriate manner. Breakdowns can occur in any of these areas. We consult with a Speech and Language Pathologist to ensure we are recognizing client's strengths and weaknesses within speech. We find challenges that promote dynamic learning, breakdowns that require supplementation, and strong skills to encourage and celebrate.
Tutoring at Dynamic Connections focuses attention on foundation skills that have yet to be mastered, while building the confidence needed to solve problems and enjoy learning. Our education map begins with Reading Mastery and Math-U-See curriculums, then branches out as new skills present themselves. It is overseen by a licensed Special Ed teacher with 1 staff for 1-2 students. This program prioritizes academic skills while incorporating effective regulation tools and highlighting supplemental RDI® milestones.