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  • Kristine Mastronardi

Redefining #Autism




I love the new post about redefining autism from RDIConnect and Dr. Gutstein, founder of RDI, Relationship Development Intervention.

Dr. Gutstein wisely advises us to rethink autism, instead of viewing autism as a long list of what our kids can’t do, we need to take the focus off of impairments and look at autism for what it is: missed developmental opportunities.


Dr. Gutstein warns, “An impairment implies that a person is incapable of doing something.”

I don’t know about you but I know from my experience our kids are very capable if we engage them in a developmentally appropriate one step ahead fashion.


Dr Gutstein states, “The common feature of autism is the host of missed developmental opportunities due to the inability to form a guiding, and then later, a mind guiding relationship and then being able to take that and start to internalize and become self guiding.”


I can proudly say that Jake is well on his way to being self guiding, if not there already.

I’ve been noticing it much more lately. Jake takes our new rescue dog to work three days a week. This morning I saw Jake literally pick Honey up out of bed so she would get up. Honey was so groggy she could barely stand, I, of course, put my two cents in and told Jake he shouldn’t do that, blah, blah, blah, as it was an hour before they had to actually leave.


Jake took Honey out for her walk and then explained to me when he came back that he had to get her up so she would have time to eat and not be rushed because when she was rushed she threw up at his job. He didn’t want her to throw up, of course, and he also said it was embarrassing. If he didn’t get her up, she wouldn’t be able to go and she loved going with Jake and playing with the other dogs.


Well, that made perfect sense and I was wrong and Jake was right. But being an autism Mom, the real big Wow moment was realizing what Jake had done.

He didn’t immediately think he was stupid and I was right and he was wrong.He didn’t get mad at me or upset because I questioned what he was doing, implying that he was wrong. Most importantly, he explained to me his “thinking.”

The third one is particularly exciting because this is something new Jake has been doing that I have been noticing.


I was thinking about it after Jake left and I decided to spotlight this for Jake and I texted him.

Our text exchange is below.










The final really cool thing Jake did was say he should do that with his Boss when they have a misunderstanding.


In terms of using his Dynamic Intelligence, Jake was able to use his current experience, learn from it, reflect on his past experience with his boss and then look to a possible future event that might happen that would be similar, not exact, but similar enough where he could use this strategy of sharing his thinking with his boss to avoid misunderstandings.


Something so seemingly simple would have been so hard for Jake in the past but now he can do it. And being able to do this has a profound effect on his sense of self, his self esteem and the quality of our relationship and his relationship with others including his work relationships.


Jake has learned how to capture his experiences, learn from his experience, use self talk to validate his own thinking and not assume he is wrong and subsequently “stupid”, form experience products that he can access of how he is smart and capable. He can think for himself and make his own decisions. He can see my perspective and share his perspective and thinking.


And then I get to learn from him!

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