Think Autism offers individual and tailored programs for families who are dealing with autism every day and parent workshops on various autism-related topics to provide parents with further understanding of their child and practical ideas to implement. Think Autism also offers professional training for schools, residential homes, and other front line staff interacting with those with autism to help them feel competent as a guide and importantly to focus on approaches that really make a difference to the child’s quality of life.
Elisa Ferriggi, consultant and director of Think Autism began in the field of autism in June 2003 where she worked intensively with children on the autism spectrum and then went on to train in a naturally nurturing developmental approach that she continues to offer today.
“I started my journey with RDI® (Relationship Development Intervention) in 2005 and quickly discovered that RDI® made sense and was a wonderful way to help not only the individual (child or adult) with autism but also help the parents feel competent and encourage full healthy family inclusion. I have seen some amazing progress in children, and families are just delighted with the results that they once couldn’t even dream of!”
RDI® is a family centered parent approach and the goal is to improve quality of life for the individual with autism and the whole family. This is a big goal and through RDI®, very achievable, I see it every day. As a consultant it is my role to guide parents and family members in a variety of approaches that will be suitable for their child and their family circumstances in order to address the core features of autism that their child has, creating the foundations of a typical guided participation relationship. I teach, through demonstration, guidance, feedback and participation, how to create successful circumstances to enhance and use opportunities for quality interaction.
In autism, for a variety and combination of reasons, sometimes unknown, this guided participation relationship breaks down. Through RDI® the Guided Participation Relationship is gradually restored helping the individual return to a typical pathway of development. How and why is this possible? Because the brain is an EXPERIENCE –DEPENDANT organ, it changes and creates new neural pathways from the learning experiences it participates in.
As many people know, every individual is very unique and has different strengths and weakness. In autism, however, there are some universal features that people have to some extent that affect how they interact, communicate and their quality of life. By addressing each of these core features we are giving children a good opportunity to live in an ever-changing world without being fearful of change, be better connected with other people, build lasting true friendships and relationships as well as become mindful individuals.
Core feature 1: Lack of emotional connection
Emotional connection is the ability to connect with others, to share experiences and to enjoy just being in each other’s company without the need to ‘get’ something or a specific response. It is about bridging minds and sharing thoughts, plans, ideas, feelings and emotions with other people.
Core feature 2: Difficulty creating meaningful personal memories
Creating personal memories is important in helping to build resilience and learn from mistakes, find self-meaning, discover events that were meaningful to us and recall these with others.
Core feature 3: Lack of self and emotional regulation
Having a good awareness of your own likes and dislikes, preferences, what you are afraid of, what you enjoy, who you are, where your body starts and finishes and being able to control yourself in social situations, understand what is acceptable, observing your own behaviours and monitoring your own thoughts and belief patterns. Thinking for yourself and being mindful of others.
Core feature 4: Struggles with flexibility
When you need a plan B, when you need to take a different route to school, when something isn’t available and you have to take the next best thing, is it good enough, improvising. This is crucial to living in the world today because not everything can be exactly as you want it to be, even if you try so hard to achieve it, so children need to become familiar with flexibility to help them enjoy the world more.
Core feature 5: Challenges with processing and coping in dynamic situations
People with autism tend to have very good static abilities but they find unpredictability, uncertainty and dynamic situations that are ever changing and evolving very challenging in everyday life. Most activities, interactions and situations in the world are dynamic. There is a need for some static learning but the real learning needs to take place in dynamic intelligence because that is the weakness in autism, and we need to strengthen the weaknesses rather than the strengths to help the child live a better quality of life.
Elisa Ferriggi from Think Autism
You can check the Think Autism website events page for free Information Sessions that will be running throughout the year. Organisations are welcome to arrange a free Think Autism Information Session for a group of parents to learn and understand more.