This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Kamini Lakhani an RDI Consultant and mother of an adult on the spectrum.
Hi Kamini, can you tell us a little about your background?
Well, first of all I’m a mom to an adult on the spectrum. Mohit is now 25!
I was living in South Korea when Mohit was diagnosed. There were few facilities in terms of English speaking special educators and therapists. So every year, I would travel to the US to get trained and help my own son. I got trained at the Lovaas Clinic in California. We also, tried everything else that looked promising- Sensory Integration at Ayres Clinic, AIT, Biomedical treatments, Cranio Sacral Therapy, even swimming with Dolphins. We moved to Dubai for about 4 years and then moved back to India. I got certified as a BCaBA, started a center in Mumbai in 2004 called SAI (Support for Autistic Individuals) which provided ABA/VB services. In around 2006- I heard about RDI and then my RDI journey began.
Why did you become interested in RDI?
A friend told me about RDI. I was skeptical at first. Also, at that time – I had reached a kind of plateau with my son and he appeared to be distressed and I was kind of seeing a shut down. I remember attending my first RDI workshop in Malaysia- this was presented by Maisie. I wanted to learn more- so my husband and I flew to Houston to attend the 4 day parent training. Shortly after that we started to work with Joyce Albu- who was our first RDI Consultant. Things started to move along nicely and I saw good changes with Mohit. He looked so much more aware and connected. He seemed to understand his environment so much better. That was it- I became hooked to RDI and then decided to become certified. It changed my life and I have absolutely no reason to regret my decision.
Can you tell us a little bit about your center? What do you do there?
Our center is known as SAI Connections. It is an extension of the family consultation program. All our teachers are trained in RDI. The parents work with the objectives at home and teachers work on the objectives in the school setting. Just like parents, they also submit weekly videos of their work with students. Everybody works together as a team. I supervise the work of the family and the staff at SAI Connections.
I must add that I get invaluable advice from Dr Gutstein (for implementing the Dynamic Intelligence Program for students who are on the program) and Dr Sheely (for staff training for the Family Consultation Program).
Can you remember a moment that really stands out in your work with RDI?
We started working with our son using RDI – when he was 17. On the first day when we started with a ball activity- he looked up straight. I remember thinking- Wow! I had forgotten what beautiful eyes and what long eye lashes Mohit has! This memory will remain etched in my mind forever.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about empowering families. When a parent experiences success with their child, when we see a breakthrough- really, there is no greater joy than that! When a mother tells me that she took her child out to the mall after 2 years and managed her child beautifully- that gives me a high! When I see a young adult being able to enjoy a family gathering – which would have ended up in a meltdown a year ago- I feel ecstatic!
I’m also passionate about training professionals. As a RDI Consultant, I can perhaps reach out to 20-25 families. But there are thousands of families that need personalized support. This can happen if we have more RDI Consultants. My aim is that every state in India should have at least one RDI Consultant.
I love to read and travel to see different parts of the world!
Why do you think RDI works?
No other program provides the kind of personalization and customization that RDI provides. Every family is different and every child/adult that is affected- is unique. We cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ kind of approach.
Plus RDI addresses the core issues of autism. The parent training component is the biggest plus point. Through my career I have trained teachers and parents- but the empowerment that I see parents achieving through RDI is phenomenal.
Kamini Lakhani has been working with students on the autism spectrum for the past 20 years and is the founder and director of SAI School in India. She has a background in ABA and is a BcaBA. She became an RDI consultant in 2009.
She is the Director of the RDI Professional Training Center in India and the Middle East. She is also the parent of an adult on the spectrum-Mohit who is now 25
She is passionate about empowering families that are affected as well as training professionals to become RDI consultants.