MY BACKGROUND AS AN AUTISM CONSULTANT
I’m a mum and a Relationship Development Intervention® (RDI) consultant, with a passion for helping families and professionals to better understand autism. I love helping families to be the best they can be, supporting parents in helping their children with the challenges they face and with making developmental progress.
As an autism consultant and trainer, Elisa Ferriggi is dedicated to empowering parents and professionals to feel competent in guiding children with autism to improve quality of life. By addressing the core features of autism and unlocking potential, children are able to develop milestones required to connect with others and establish true relationships.
My degree was a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and I’ve always been interested in child development and autism. While I was still a student, a therapist offered me the opportunity to do some observations of some of her sessions, working with autistic children. I went along and I knew straightaway that was the area I wanted to work in.
Back then, the common approach to autism was one of behaviour modification (the field of autism has moved on massively since then). Children were making fast progress in some areas, but the effects were short term, as children relied on prompts and were less independent.
I realised that the children learnt fast and would build a large vocabulary, but they were unable to express themselves socially or emotionally and unable to connect with others, only able, at times, to communicate their needs or wants, nothing more. Many were able to reach academic goals, but struggled to build relationships. I noticed also that the parent - child relationship was strained and difficult due to the therapist culture making the parent feel less valued and powerless. In some cases parents became 'therapists' rather than parents. I felt that there must be another way.
RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT INTERVENTION® (RDI)
Things fell into place when I discovered RDI. It's emphasis was on empowering parents in how to support their children to be independent thinkers, to build relationships and to use social communication effectively. I went to Houston, Texas, USA where Dr Gutstein and Dr Sheely, the founders of RDI, delivered my training at what was then called the Connections Centre (now RDIConnect). My initial intention was to combine a behaviour modification approach with RDI, but in many ways the two conflicted – RDI seemed the most natural choice, with the best outcome and long term benefit all round.
I’ve been using RDI since 2005 and it underpins my programmes and workshops. It’s a natural and nurturing approach that helps to change the neural pathways so that children can perceive and process information differently.
So many of the parents that I work with have felt like they’ve been constantly 'putting out fires' and dealing with immediate challenges, unable to focus on the long-term or to address developmental needs. It’s demoralising and knocks their confidence. Often, it will prompt them to hand over responsibility to a therapist. They then feel even less confident in themselves. RDI is about empowering parents to be the best parents they can be to their child. I love helping to restore their confidence with guiding tools and knowledge and seeing their children develop as a result. RDI works on the social, emotional and cognitive aspects of development, it encourages independent thinking and problem solving and helps children to develop true friendships as it fills in the gaps of missing developmental milestones.
I understand the complex demands made on parents in helping their children and the emotional journey that many are going through. I also admire their persistence in helping their children to face challenges.
QUALIFICATIONS AND TRAINING AS AN AUTISM CONSULTANT
I’ve been involved in the autism field since 2003 and I’ve completed the following qualifications/training
BSC (Hons) Psychology
Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Holistic Approach to Neuro-developmental Learning Efficiency (HANDLE) screener
The Listening Program (TLP) Certified Provider
Sleep Scotland Practitioner
Education and Training Level 3 Award
Working with Parents Level 4 award