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Episodic Memory and Autism (part3)

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Click to view part one and part two
Research informs us that in typical development the foundations for episodic memory are formed in infancy through everyday parent-child interactions that take place naturally within their relationship.  Similarly, research indicates that the parent-child relationship, when the child is on the autistic continuum, is disrupted.  Within RDI this relationship is referred to as the ‘Guided Participation Relationship’.  The founders of RDI Dr Gutstein and Dr Sheely, label this disruption as a ‘Lack of Growth Seeking’ which prevents the child from being motivated to learn that ‘you and me = us’, through:
seeking and sharing experiences with their parentlooking to their parent when they are unsure of how to do something, or just need some encouragement to continuenaturally observing what their parent is doing within their environment to enhance their own learningexploring and experimenting with objects with their parentsynchron…

The Impact of Autism (ASD) on Episodic Memory

IF you haven't read part one, click here

The main body of research on episodic memory within ASD has been carried out by Lind.Lind(2010) states that the interpersonal social communication difficulties, experienced by individuals with ASD, inhibits their ability to form episodic memories through parent-child engagements within shared moments, events or episodes.

·As individuals with autism have difficulty sensing the emotions that they are experiencing in the moment this will impede any emotional episodic memory encoding and will therefore impact emotion related recall.

oResearch by Lind (2010), cites a case study in which a 21-year-old high functioning individual with autism was able to recall that one of his unique personality traits was that he was friendly.When asked to recall specific detail on when he was friendly to another, or an event where he showed friendly behaviour, he was unable to do so.He had an inability to tie his self-belief to an actual experience of his own feelin…

The Parent Child Relationship in Autism

Welcome to our series on The power of Episodic Memory in Autism.  The Main text will be Part 1 and Part 2.  Along with these two foundational blog posts will be posts going into additional detail with examples and applications.  We welcome your questions and comments as you read through and think about your own family,  which will help inspire future blog posts.
Thank you to Sharon for starting this series with the backbone centered around episodic memory.  Sharon's contact info can be found at the end of this article. 

Our self-identity is formed through personal memories created in specific moments in everyday life that connect emotions, experience and events as lived in episodes, exclusive to us as individuals (Tulving, 2002). 



In a nutshell, we could both be in the same place at the same time, we may or may not be there together and yet the emotional experience that we come away with could be very different.  For instance, we could be watching a comedy film at the cinema, you co…

Relationship Skills over Social Skills

Relationships teach us about multiple perspectives and provide the experience to show us that there is more than one right way of thinking, feeling, solving a problem and behaving. Through relationship encounters, we see the world through another’s eyes and notice it is not identical to our own. Relationships teach us to think about the world in a relative and not absolute manner. In a relationship our actions cannot be interpreted as right or wrong. Rather, they are meaningful or not depending on how they impact the individuals involved in the relationship. Rather than pushing a button or following a script, relationships require us to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the state of our connection to one another and make ongoing adjustments. The essential skills of relationship differ from the typical social skills taught in classes or social skills groups. We are accustomed to thinking of social skills as teaching behaviors such as making eye contact, waiting your turn, smiling, a…

The Sense of Self

When working with a family,  its not uncommon that parents will ask me, "how do I "get" my child to do this, or that.  The entire relationship between the parents and child becomes focused on skill acquision.  While this may help check the boxes off in skills,  what it neglects is helping a child to see the world through relationships...through first their parents eyes.  This sense of self is the foundation for those thinking skills that are intuitive.  When a child can reflect on past experiences in their own mind rather than an adult prompt, this memory encodes for future decisions and experiences. Its the  collaborative moments that give our kids competence, which is WHY RDI focuses on the experience of the interaction and not the task of completion.  This competence comes from developing a sense of self...  being able to pull from your past an experience that is simular to a current situation, and being able to navigate through because of this reflection.  At the ve…

What do you see for your child?

I receive emails regularly from parents who just received a diagnoses for their son or daughter and they are heartbroken.  I make sure to tell them that they are what their child needs!!  Not only do I work with amazing families who knew their child was capable of so much more and knew what they wanted for their family when other professionals gave a poor prognosis,  I have also heard the words, he will never talk, he will never have a friend, he will never "go with the flow" he will never  blah blah blah...  I didnt listen!


This testimony is from an amazing family that I work with.  I wanted to post it  because I want you, the reader to know,  if you are reading this and your child was just diagnosed or even if you just feel stuck with his current program,  There is so much hope and empowerment in restoring your childs development and dynamic thinking.  Dont let anyone tell you what your child will never do!  This family is just one example of how they went with their gut...…