• Kristine Mastronardi


Halloween in our suburban town is so fun. I have wonderful memories of mild Fall Halloween nights trick or treating with our family. Unfortunately, not every Halloween was full of good vibes. When Jake got to the age where kids went out with their friends alone, Halloween began to take on a sadness for me. Jake didn’t have “real” friends.

“Who would he go with?” “Should I still take him?”

Of course, I did, and honestly, he didn’t even realize. But I felt bad. I felt bad for him that he didn’t have friends to run around the neighborhood with.

Luckily, we found RDI when Jake was nine and we began to learn how to guide Jake and how to develop foundations for REAL friendships. Not only did he develop the ability to socially reference, share experiences, have a back and forth interaction, whether verbal or non-verbal, but more importantly he developed the motivation for friendships.

He learned through engagements with us and his siblings that being in a relationship is safe, being in a relationship is fun, being in a relationship has ups and downs but he could manage those ups and downs and moments of uncertainty and it was all WORTH IT! We all crave human connection. I would want no less for my autistic son.

Today Jake has a ton of friends. His social life is active and fulfilling. And I LOVE to see it! Building relationships is the key. Jake has an understanding of what a true friend is. RDI helped teach us, as parents, how to provide that for Jake. It is possible! Reach out to me to learn more. Happy Halloween!!

Jake and his friends enjoying a night out at Cinnaholic, Downtown Westfield, NJ

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