RDI® for Adults and Teens
Adults & Autism
If you are an adult that was recently diagnosed or a young adult or teen that has “aged out’ of typical autism interventions such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), you may be looking for help. Unfortunately, the conversation around autism, especially in regards to therapies and interventions, seems to stop when a child reaches a certain age, leaving many people on the spectrum without resources to navigate their life in and entering adulthood.
You may feel like you are trying to get around in the world with ‘holes’ in your developmental plan. You don’t know why you are having so much trouble in life but you know something is not quite right.
What type of struggles adults on the spectrum may face?
- Inability to hold a job
- Non-flexible thinking
- Breakdown of relationship
- Extreme black and white thinking patterns
- Extreme stress brought on by the inability to manage their experiences
- Addiction and Substance Abuse
Helping learn how to cope and manage these struggles is not an indication that you are a person unworthy or in need of being ‘changed’, all people can benefit from therapy and a greater understanding of themselves to help them navigate life.
How does RDI help Adults and Teens?
Dynamic intelligence is central to independence and quality of life, and RDI® builds on this perspective. Look at the complex world that you live in, there is much to cope with! Challenges and change are constant in life, but the development of dynamic intelligence gives you the ability to think flexibly and understand different perspectives in life. This can help you cope with change, and to integrate information from multiple sources.
Here are the six areas of dynamic intelligence universal to every person on the autism spectrum. Each help to usher in quality of life and make independence possible:
- Emotional Referencing – The ability to ‘read’ and learn from the emotional experiences of others.
- Social Coordination – The ability to observe others and self-regulate behavior in order to participate in social relationships.
- Declarative Language – The ability to use language and non-verbal language for expression, interaction, and to share feelings and ideas with others.
- Flexible Thinking – The ability to adapt when life’s circumstances change.
- Relational Information Processing – The ability to think situations through, to obtain solutions, when there are no “right or wrong” answers.
- Foresight and Hindsight – The ability to reflect on past experiences and use them as a tool to anticipate potential future scenarios.
More than Skills
There is substantial reason to believe that cognitively higher functioning teens and adults can learn a wide range of sophisticated skills. However, significant obstacles are found when the individual tries to apply these learned skills in real-world, complex, dynamic settings, or when skills must be modified or adapted “on-the- fly” to meet circumstances that were not covered in the training curriculum.
The problem, then, is not learning specific skills per se, but their application in a more dynamic manner, to progressively more complex, “messy”, unpredictable real-world problems and settings. This real life application is incorporated into the Relationship Development Intervention Program’s Dynamic Intelligence curriculum.
Basically, if you understand Dynamic Intelligence and are able to take on your learning, you will be able to become more flexible. This can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that often comes when an individual on the spectrum navigates the neurotypical world.
How to Get Started with RDI®?
We would love to help you when you are ready to start your RDI® program! The best way to get started is by looking for a consultant in your area, or one that offers online services that you can utilize. If you would like to be connected with a consultant that could best help you, you can sign up for a free consultation by clicking here.
Resources for Adults & Teens
We’re taught from a young age that high self-esteem is something to be desired and attained, but self-esteem isn’t all we need. Although it’s not talked about nearly as much, self-acceptance is much more important when it comes to good mental health and overall happiness.
Dr. Sarah Wayland talks about autism and masking, specifically for teens or young adults in this episode of the RDIconnect® podcast, Autism: A new Perspective.
Many of us enjoy the benefits of being online. We connect with people from all over the world, we pursue our interests, we are entertained, and we can learn about any topic that we are interested in. Our autistic children and teens benefit as we do from the online world; however, our youngsters can be more vulnerable to cyber threats such as predators, pornography, and bullying if they do not understand the dangers, and if they do not establish and use internet safety skills.
In this episode of “Autism: A New Perspective,” Kat is joined by Betty Adkins, M.S., an RDI® Certified Consultant, RDI® parent, and developer of the RDI® Teacher Institute, to talk about RDI® and high school.
Puberty can be daunting for any young person. Puberty wafts into a teen’s or pre-teen’s life with physical changes, as well as changes that are unseen, such as increased cortisol levels that often lead to shifts in emotions and struggles with behavior regulation. An adolescent can switch from having a happy and low-stress day to crying within minutes. These changes can be even more difficult for autistic young people who typically deal with sensory challenges.
Providing support for our autistic teen or adult is a necessary part of being a parent, and this is often one of our top concerns. But as we do so, we can unknowingly fall into a default mechanism that infantilizes the individual and treats them as if they are not capable of being their own person. We typically do this with the underlying belief that we are giving the best support, and that we have our teen or adult’s best interests in mind, however, infantilizing them is unnecessary, and innately dangerous.
How can RDI® provide real-world support for your child, teen, or young adult to prepare them for higher education, or a real-world job? In Dr. Steven Gutstein’s words, “Dynamic Intelligence is the mental ability that enables humans to successfully navigate the world and our relationships….and we have developed many resources to meet the mental challenges encountered in dynamic environments.”
Even though this can look different for every autistic person, autistic individuals – especially children, commonly struggle with executive functioning. Individuals with executive dysfunction can lack acquired motivation to achieve goals and prepare for normal events in day-to-day life (i.e., money management), and they often experience difficulties picking up on skills such as organization, planning, and reasoning without guided learning experiences. Despite these challenges, autistic individuals can learn to manage money.
When an individual ages out of traditional therapy for autism it can present daunting challenges for a young adult or teen, as well as their parents. Where do I go from here as I transition to adulthood? What resources are available for housing, employment, mental health counseling, and other supports long-term?
Millions of people in our population are diagnosed with depression every year. Most individuals are diagnosed based on common ‘by the book’ symptoms, but this can leave an entire segment of our population out. Depression often presents itself differently in neurodiverse individuals, which makes it much more difficult to pinpoint as an autistic, and to diagnose as a clinician.