Dr. Rachelle Sheely, co-founder of Relationship Development Intervention, talks about what current autism research is telling us. She explores this in-depth topic by explaining what happens in typical infant development vs. development of a child that goes on to have autism and when the first signs of divergence appear.
What we know about autism is that, (in terms of the recent research) is that it’s very difficult – and some people say that it’s not there, to distinguish what happens with a child who later develops autism.
So, in the beginning the kids look pretty much alike. I have had many parents say to me, “I knew from day one there was something different,” but I always had a lot more parents say, “You know, he really wasn’t any different from my other children in the beginning.” And what we see – and what the research is showing, is that in the beginning the children tend to look alike and at about six months, sometimes a little bit later, but about 6 months, somewhere between 6 months and 18 months, they go into a different trajectory. So, you’ll see that the typically developing children go into a growth-seeking mode. And what this does, it activates, for parents, their intuitive sense. The “Ah, this is how I interact with my child!” you know, and so they become growth promoters because their children are growth seeking.
With autism, whatever happens with autism, the children become stability-maintaining and so the stance of typical development gets thrown off and you’ll see that the children are trying to maintain what they already know and the parents intuitive sense of how to parent gets thrown off.
So, what we do is we show the parents how to get their children to be better apprentices to them. The kind of apprentices that typically developing children are to their parents.