• Kristine Mastronardi


As long as I can remember people have been telling me what Jake can and can not do. Their justification for this was that I was in denial. For some reason people had low expectations of what an outcome for autism could be. I remember asking his teacher in kindergarten if Jake would ever be able to attend school in our home district, he was in an out of district placement at the time.

“Sure”, she replied with a smile, “in a self-contained classroom.” That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

I wanted Jake to be mainstreamed with his peers and I didn’t want him to be mainstreamed because I was in denial, that’s what they didn’t understand. I wanted Jake to be mainstreamed because the research for kids with autism clearly stated that kids with autism have better outcomes when they are integrated into a regular education classroom.

Was that such a crazy goal? I didn’t think so. I knew Jake was smart. Yes, he was behind and he did have missing foundations but I knew he could learn. I didn’t believe that the only way he could learn was by rote discrete trial drills. I didn’t believe that he would be compliant, partly because I felt like he didn’t understand why he would have to sit and answer questions repetitively and his noncompliance would led to his behaviors escalating. Therefore, I knew that that was not for him.

I followed my instincts and Jake rose to the occasion. Yes, he needed supports. Yes, the process was gradual. But he did do it. I’ve seen many parents do the same.

That’s what I love about RDI, we believe our kids can regain the crucial parent guiding relationship. We believe our kids can meet their missing developmental foundations. We believe we can ignite internal growth seeking motivation. We believe our kids can gain a sense of competence, and resiliency to want to engage with us and their world. We believe our kids can learn like any other person, through experience based engagements at their level of ability with just enough mental challenge to help their brain develop and grow. We believe our kids CAN!

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