Advocacy and RDI: Scaffolding Towards Independence

We want to be advocates for our children. It’s natural. 

Many of us find ourselves in need of an advocate, such as an attorney or other specialist to help us sort out the myriad complexities of our daily lives such as when we buy a house, write a will, or butt heads with an agency that denies our child services.

Advocacy is important, particularly when it comes to marginalized groups.

So, while advocating for our children with autism is important, it can get to a point where we’re actually hindering our children, instead of helping them. 

Early in the process of developing RDI®, we crossed paths with many autism advocates who tackled the acquisition of services as a need-all, get-all proposition—mostly this stemmed from a common list of suggested supports a person with autism might need. 

This unfortunate approach lacked the specificity necessary to carefully scaffold for independence. Of course, some of this was useful, but too much advocacy can create dependence, rather than independence.

We don’t want to throw our children out into the world, with no support whatsoever, but we must help them make their way to independence – gradually, and when they’re ready. Each step must be taken when the child is developmentally and emotionally ready for the next step.

This is what we call scaffolding toward independence.

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