The Who, What When and WHy of parent based autism intervention

  • Why am I hearing more about “parent-based” interventions?

  • RDI Can Help MY Child? Really??

  • ABA versus RDI?

  • Who is RDI best suited for?

1. What is a “parent-based” intervention?

Quickly gaining recognition by experts for numerous reasons, a parent-based intervention implies that you learn to work with your child, rather than ferrying your child to a “therapist.” The benefits are tremendous. Anyone with a child on the spectrum has experienced agonizing feelings of frustration and incompetence. RDI enables parents to “take back the reigns” and learn to feel competent. Your role doesn’t need to be limited to driving your child from therapy to therapy! You can be guided to both improve your child’s quality of life – and your own as well!

The end result?

A happier, healthier home life, and a child that is more resilient, content, and better able to relate to others and the world around him! Even better – it can be customized to work within your lifestyle!

2. Can a parent based intervention help? REALLY?

I recently saw RDI mentioned in the Toronto Star’s “Autism Project” Feature, as an intervention that impacts a child’s ability to socialize and relate to others. I can’t imagine my child being able to participate in any activities with me; every time I try to do something with my child I either give in to his controlling behaviours or it turns into a huge power struggle. How can this possibly work for my family?

Related: Tips to Building a Connection with Your ASD Child

It was satisfying to see The Star cover so many aspects of what is affecting so many families, and great to see RDI mentioned as a means to build a child’s social abilities. If your child has been labelled “behavioural,” or is challenging to parent, you may be left feeling that there’s no possibility your child could ever be suitable for this type of approach. Not true! The first few months of an RDI Program are dedicated to calming the waters at home; slowing the pace of life; helping parents let go of crisis, and learning to set effective limits. Once this has been accomplished, you AND your child will be much happier, and believe it or not – your child will be a more willing “apprentice.” You’ll be relieved to hear that most RDI families feel like they’re “in crisis” at the start. This is perfectly normal.

3. I thought ABA is the only therapy that works?

How is RDI different than Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which is considered the “Gold Standard” and is also “evidence-based?”

I’ll try to answer this briefly, as it’s a very “big” question! In a (non-funded) ABA program, parents pay a therapist hourly to work with their child to build discrete “skills.” An ABA program can cost families tens of thousands of dollars per year. While there is a place for every therapy, RDI is a very different approach with much loftier goals, and a moderate cost.

Let me explain. ASD is a neuro-developmental disorder. Relationship Development Intervention is a newer, yet “evidence-based” approach. Based on developmental psychology and neurodevelopment, it assumes that with the right type of experiential stimulation, a child’s neural wiring can change (neuroplasticity). So rather than learn “skills,” your child’s cognitive and social development are positively impacted, enabling your child to learn to problem solve and think in a “dynamic” manner! Parents are trained to interact with their child in a way that meets their child “where he or she is developmentally.” In other words, their program is customized based on their child’s age and abilities, and is brought into their lifestyle in a manner that is manageable.

4. Who is best suited for an RDI Program?

An RDI Program is best suited for parents that want to be part of their child’s intervention, and that are determined to feel competent as a guide to their child. Regardless of your child’s age or abilities, you can be guided to improve life for your entire family! Starting an RDI Program is a new beginning; it’s the first step toward giving your child the quality of life that he or she was meant to have! Take the leap; your family is worth it.

 

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