I like to say that simply put, dynamic intelligence is the “street smarts” that helps us humans to effectively manage our ever changing, cognitively complex, and emotionally charged world of today – NOW more than ever!
Understanding dynamic intelligence is important to appreciate from other forms of intelligence such as content acquisition or rote learning. More importantly, it brings to light the implications of NOT affording Autistic individuals the opportunities to develop dynamic intelligence. Most standard therapy models for Autistic individuals invest many hours and multiple trials in teaching rote information that often does not generalize to “real world” functioning. In fact, there is NOT ONE SINGLE outcome study demonstrating that traditional popular “evidence based” models provide or contribute to long term quality of life and well being for Autistic individuals. I ask, shouldn’t long term quality of life and mental well being be the “gold standard” for Autism support, not collecting data on teaching rote information that will not equate to well being? Limiting Autistics potential to rote learning through external reinforcement is old school and in my opinion, inhumane.
One critical hallmark of dynamic intelligence is mental flexibility. In a volatile environment or a decision-making position, people with high dynamic intelligence can function efficiently with little to no warning of change. People with low dynamic intelligence will struggle in those positions, and have difficulty adapting to change especially if it’s without warningand if they lack personal experiences they can draw from to help them prepare and process efficiently. Limiting teaching to primarily static information (non-changing information such as letters, numbers, colours, scripts, content acquisition, etc.) for Autistics is like sending them out to battle a war with only knowing the kinds of weaponry used and without the protective strategies and practical experience to battle, stay safe and survive.
People with Autism may have low dynamic intelligence, as their brains are wired differently. A cascade affect is created when well intended parents and professionals, following an ASD diagnosis, engage the student in hours and hours of rote and static learning which further impacts the limited development of the brain. Autistics are often starved of the day to day opportunities to safely and successfully engage in meaningful moments to develop the foundations for dynamic intelligence.
This might sound familiar to you if your kiddos struggle with a last minute change to routine or an unexpected obstacle when completing a familiar task. RDI seeks to help develop dynamic intelligence, so children with Autism can go on to live bountiful lives. I urge you, as professionals and parents, to consider if the goals you are teaching your kiddos today will provide them with the attributes they need to live productively in our complex ever changing world tomorrow.