Watching Lisa with my son for the first time was like watching someone do yoga. She seemed to effortlessly be able to engage him, without any need for an obnoxious song and dance, without the need to control him in some way and without the need for a treat to motivate him. She was just so clearly at ease and respectful of my beautiful little man. She had a deep knowing of how to adjust herself to help him feel at ease, to allow him to feel the joy of connecting and interacting which ultimately led to an explosion of learning in all facets of life. The best part is, she assured me that I could learn how to do her kind of yoga with my son too – and she was right.
I’m so grateful to her for giving us this life!
Four years ago, at the beginning of our travels in the world of Autism, we would never have predicted the possibilities for our son Jack. While diagnosed as “high functioning” he was a little boy whose Autism was a still a very big part of every moment of our family life. Jack was controlling, inflexible, easily roused to tantrums and always, always very anxious around dynamic situations. Small parties would result in withdrawal to a quiet corner at best or a complete breakdown at worst.
From a therapeutic standpoint we were very fortunate to find RDI and our consultant Lisa Palasti very early on. We dove head into the RDI lifestyle when Jack was 3 ½ and we haven’t looked back. From the outset, changes appeared: improved eye contact, greater flexibility and most importantly the development of a true connection with our child. Today, Jack is our flexible child, easy going with peers and loves dynamic situations of all kind including team sports and large parties.
RDI continues to shape our interactions with both of our children and the way we parent every day. We truly feel that under the guidance of our consultant, Lisa Palasti, we have created for Jack and our family a true quality of life.
Update: Jack is doing very well! It’s amazing to see how able he is to self-regulate in comparison to where he was when we started RDI. He is thriving at his school, playing AA hockey and has several very good friends and one very close/best friend, Noah.
I can’t think how we would have got to this point without RDI in our life. We use it to this day, especially with Ella who has diagnosed mild anxiety disorder. She has turned out to be much more controlling than Jack…..or maybe I forget how controlling he was! He is now my “easy” child. Perhaps that is because of the early RDI work. He is so relaxed about collaboration, suggestions, feedback and strategizing. So interesting what life brings us. But RDI still provides an amazing lifestyle and tool kit to utilize in our day to day parenting, even though we have officially “graduated” from your program. We greatly appreciate being able to contact you for a quick phone call whenever any concerns have arisen. You have provided us with great insight and we are so thankful for you and RDI!
– Andrea and Marc, Toronto
As I look back, it seemed that we looked at each other, looked at our son Liam, looked at how our lives felt so much more back on track and realized we didn’t need to continue on with any more formal “therapy” for Liam anymore. Probably more accurately, after doing RDI for a few years, we felt we seemed to just “get it”, more importantly “get” Liam and incorporate all that we learned just naturally into our everyday lives. I suppose that’s the beauty of RDI.
Liam is doing AMAZING! Truly Lisa, Barry and I look at each other in awe almost daily at the things Liam has accomplished, at how far he has come, how the things that seemed like such impossible feats for him at one time are ‘no biggie’ anymore. He’s in Grade 3 and doing quite well in school. He doesn’t require any EA support but has a tutor who helps him with his reading comprehension which seems to be his only struggle academically. More importantly, he loves school, enjoys a large group of buddies and thrives in the before-school and recess activities in the school yard with his friends. He loves going to his friend’s birthday parties, walks right in without looking back and enjoys all of the silliness and antics that Grade 3 boys seem to love so much. He always asks to have friends over and just the other day said “Mom, maybe it’s time for me to have Dylan over. I haven’t invited him lately and I don’t want him to feel left out”. So sweet. Not long ago, I came across one of my ‘mission statements’ that saw Liam seeing his friend who was sad and running over to him to see if he needed help. I remember at the time how out-of-reach these goals seemed, so it’s amazing to see Liam doing this and so much more.
Outside of school, hockey has become his true love. He plays in net and made the “Select” team this year. It means some ‘away’ tournaments and just yesterday we got back from a 2 day tournament outside of T.O. The hockey went well, he has very strong skills and there’s something nice about sitting in the stands and overhearing the other teams parent’s saying “their goalie is awesome!” I look at him and listen to all of the noise in the arena, the music, the bright lights, the horns, and the cheers (which I at time feel is overwhelming) and think “Is that my son out there?” Not only can he regulate himself in this environment and at the same time maintain such great focus on the puck, but he LOVES it! But more importantly, he has not just made some great new friends, he loves the time spent together not just on the ice but off the ice too. The comradely in the locker room, the team spirit, cheering each other on and weathering through the losses like troopers. In between games, all of the families go back to the hotel and Liam (and Jake of course) are the first to run to the pool to be with their friends, play tag in the hallways and whine when we tell them it’s time to turn in.
Liam has a “maturity” about him that leaves me in awe sometimes when I see him. He is a leader to his brother, constantly teaching him “right and wrong” behaviour, calmly shakes his head when he sees his brother “acting up” and walks over to me with a suggestion like “mom, maybe Jake needs a time out”. or “mom, I think Jake might be tired, maybe he needs a nap”. He also has 2 new toddler cousins who he dotes over, talks to in a cute little baby voice and has more patience for than most kids twice his age.
We are all doing well, trying to keep our work schedules in check and carving out family time whenever we can. Our latest venture is skiing/snowboarding and we’re planning a getaway in the New Year and try out our new skills.
There are still “hiccups” of course. We travelled to Spain over the summer and Liam had a little difficulty “adjusting”. Only in the way of the little, “no big deal” things bothering him more than they should (ie. forgetting his beach toys at the hotel and no pasta at the restaurant became a big deal). We remembered your story about your son spilling milk on his shirt in the car on the way to school and you reminded him that driving through the garage door would be a “10/10” but spilled milk is more a “2/10”. So this became our motto for the trip. Standing in line for the train “2/10”, falling out of the train “10/10”. It was even to the point where if Jake was upset about something, Liam would provide him with a little reminder “Jake don’t make this a 10/10”. Beautiful!
Thank-you Lisa for all that you have done for Liam and our family. You are truly changing lives in all that you do with RDI. With much gratitude,
– F.I. and B.R., Elora
I just had to email you and share …this morning my jaw dropped and my heart flipped when saying goodbye to my daughter, she stopped eating her breakfast, looked up at me – I mean truly looked at me – and said “I love you too!” This was a first and I attributed it all to the communication changes and recommendations you have given us. Thank you Lisa!
Just wanted to send you a quick update on how Emma is doing! Emma is now 7 years old and has been going to the Waldorf School since September. She is doing very well at school, has a couple of good friends and gets along very well in the class. Her teacher’s biggest complaints are that Emma is very dreamy and is a bit too chatty and social at times! Her teacher has no real complaints though, and Emma is managing the classroom environment just fine with no extra support. We chose not to disclose her full history, and let her abilities now speak for themselves. I think that was a good choice, as her teacher is supporting her development and not focusing on who she used to be! Emma LOVES school and can’t wait to tell us all about it when she gets home.
Emma is a wonderful daughter and sister, and is such a joy to have around. We couldn’t be prouder of how far she has come. Thinking back to our dreams for her when we started RDI… she has already met and exceeded them. We are thrilled to have the child we dreamed we would (and feared we wouldn’t) when we got our diagnosis of severe autism. She is funny, loving, friendly, well-liked, she has a high self-esteem, she makes friends wherever we go, and she is just the right amount of quirky and weird
We have no doubts that she will continue to develop “normally” as she gets older, and will live a normal, happy life. Her current dreams are to become an artist and a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher. She would be excellent at both.
I was speaking to a friend who told her friend about Emma and RDI, and that friend has now started RDI with her son (perhaps with you!). She said that for the first time she has hope that he will have a good life, that something is finally working. That is how I feel about RDI. Suddenly the cause of Emma’s problems was clear, and when I understood the cause I understood how to help her overcome her deficits. And it’s still working.
We continue to practice our GPR, dynamic thinking skills and really just talking to Emma about the world and what she needs to learn. What a gift to give to a person with ASD – Emma knows her strengths and weaknesses and now choses to work to make life easier for herself.
Thanks for all you have done for our family! We are very grateful to have chosen RDI and to have worked with you. Hope that you and your family are well and we wish you a very happy 2014!
-Jane M., Guelph
Felix was 6 years old when we started working with Lisa, and we had never had a conversation with him. We told him what to do (or not to do), asked him questions and prompted his answers. We would try and try to have conversations, but he didn’t seem interested. We were amazed at how quickly and how well he began to talk and connect to us once we had begun to receive Lisa’s coaching. Now he’s 13 and we’re happily watching him blossom and grow into an independent person and an independent thinker who is adept at forming and expressing his own opinions.
Felix has gone from dreading social visits to truly enjoying spending time with friends and family. He takes an active part in dinner table conversations, sharing thoughts and stories. The more he practices the more fluent and natural he becomes. He’s become capable of expressing his feelings clearly and is emotionally confident. He is also sensitive to the feelings of others and is a kind and caring friend and brother.
Lisa was also tremendously helpful in helping us teach Felix’s teachers not only how to help him but how to enjoy having him in their class. And even though we don’t regularly work with her anymore, we feel equipped to handle most anything arises these days; it feels pretty much like natural parenting. On rare occasion, we are comforted knowing that Lisa’s door is always open and she is available anytime we have a question or concern. We also were quite successful in working for years with Lisa long distance.
Felix says: I like Lisa, she’s cool. She helped me become more social. She had fun playing games with me and I had fun too.