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Autism Reflection and Prospection

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Thinking About the Past, Moving Forward to the Future

Now that Christmas is over, hopefully you will all experience some much anticipated rest.  During this down time, it is a good time to reflect on the prior year and take time to consider the future.  What are your hopes and dreams for yourself? What are your hopes and dreams for your child’s future? Since 2020 is right around the corner, I wanted to send you all some light and positivity to help restore hope.   First of all, here is a webinar that I did a few years back called “What Really Matters – Learn how to develop a long-term perspective and set priorities for your child.” My goal with this webinar is to share my journey about how I came to understand how to focus proactively on my child’s future.

Secondly, below is a former client reflection called “The Gift of RDI”.  Enjoy her story about how RDI changed her relationship with her nephew and improved his quality of life dramatically.

The Gift of RDI
By guest author Sara Winter

I am in a unique position in that I have been my nephew’s aide every day at home and at school for many years. In the beginning, we did mostly ABA and other instrumental therapies and so my relationship with my nephew was very much teacher/student. A lot of important skills were learned here, but a lot of rote responses too. He and I were stuck; I had become a crutch instead of a conduit, and I was overcompensating like crazy to “set him up for success” which was actually sabotaging his road to independence. 

The best way I can describe my experience with RDI is this: If ABA focuses on the response, I would say that RDI focuses on the process; the connection between parent and child (or in my case aunt and child) on the way to making sense of the world. It is based on the stages of neurotypical development, and like any good therapy requires a really good consultant.  We were blessed to work with our RDI Consultant, Lisa Palasti.  And we were also thankful for the founders who built an online platform that parents and consultants use to track data and share therapy techniques. It keeps track of the child’s progress and gives the users global connectivity to share videos and ideas, keeping the basis for their work consistent and current.

RDI is a huge commitment at first, because it isn’t a compartmentalized therapy for the affected child and a therapist, but rather a lifestyle that affects the entire family. It’s based on slowing down daily life and making mindful, deliberate steps in your relationships. Every objective builds on another to reach specific milestones and every daily activity (from unloading the dishwasher to getting dressed) is an opportunity to co-experience, co-regulate, and give the child an opportunity to think for themselves. 

A few years ago, I could see that my nephew needed some autonomy from me at school. It just wasn’t cool to have his auntie hovering over him all the time. Our RDI consultant, Lisa Palasti, worked with me to begin to fade back and give him an opportunity to make some mistakes on his own. We started with the tiniest of baby steps; a glance here, a body position there.  If I had to leave the room so I wouldn’t sabotage his independence, I did.  All the while, spending my time and energy covertly scaffolding behind the scenes.  Eventually, I was able to transfer responsibility to his classmates, his teachers, and most importantly, to him.

The growth we’ve seen in him in the last two years has been astounding. I never would have thought that a child so affected by autism would be as confident and joyful as he is now. He cooks family meals and leads our Passover Seders every year. He plays basketball, has a penchant for performing arts and just recently, can enjoy a sleepover with his friends.  I have never known a more authentic person, a gentler soul or a purer heart.
He is the strongest person I know, and thanks to RDI, I get to be his auntie.

I hope this time of year you can all take time to think about the gifts that have been granted to you this past year as well as consideration for what you would like to experience in the coming year.  

Happy New Year!  

Lisa Palasti

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