What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
According to the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), Autism Spectrum Disorder is diagnosed based on the following two criteria - (1) deficits in social communication and social interaction, and (2) restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities.
However, in RDI’s point of view, instead of focusing on FIXING the deficits and negative traits of ASD, we want to focus on the importance of guiding ASD children to DEVELOP these Five core GROWTHS that will promote long term social communication and quality of life.
the ability to share one’s experience and opinions with another person
Flexible & Creative Thinking
To be able to embrace changes and adopt flexibility during problem-solving. Promote creative thinking to come out with the best solutions.
Promote awareness of self and their surroundings. To promote the awareness and consideration of another person’s emotions and thinking
To be able to use past memories and present experiences to promote problem-solving skills and social engagement with others.
Promote dynamic analysis of a certain event or situation, to troubleshoot problems based on the information present
Often times, clinicians and parents are so fixated on trying to CORRECT and CHANGE their ASD children's negative behaviours (tantrums, flapping, stimming) by using behavioural strategies, positive reinforcements and a reward chart, hoping it will help children to appear less autistic. But, not only will it make them more stress and anxious, it'll make ASD children appear more static and robotic.
Hence, the FIVE core growths above are essential for children with ASD. We want to guide them by promoting natural brain growth, not behaviour change. Let me explain further through the scenario below.
One day, I drove to the food market with my friend, Mia. On our way there, we started talking about the ice cream we bought a week ago, how it was such a bargain and how good the taste was (Episodic Memory and Experience Sharing). We then continued to discuss and exchange opinions on what we should get at the market later (self-awareness). Suddenly the sky started getting cloudy, and I thought to myself, "I should probably park my car somewhere near the entrance so we won't get drenched if it rains." (Dynamic analysis) Unfortunately, the entrance parking was full and I decided to take a few rounds before finally getting a spot for my car (Flexible or creative thinking). As we were walking into the market, we remembered there was a pancake place next to the ice cream shop we bought from last week. So we decided to give the pancake a try this time (episodic memory).
Imagine how the scenario above would have unfolded if the 5 core growths were missing in a person. Therefore, in RDI, our main focus is to guide parents and children with ASD to develop dynamic brain growth naturally. So if the above scenario arises, your ASD children will learn how to adapt and not be having meltdowns.