Eggshells aren't people

About four or five months after the unofficial diagnosis, I had read enough about what ASD was. Now I was ready to find out what I could do about it.

In an image that stuck in my brain, the unhelpful psychologist we went to see likened people to eggs. Neurotypical people were eggs - shells nicely filled with yolk and white. Everything working properly inside. But autistic people were like empty shells. On the outside they looked normal -ish, but inside there wasn't a lot that was normal.

His idea of autism treatment was to teach the empty little shells skills so that they would appear to be real eggs, even though they weren't.

A lot of the treatments that I read about propounded the same sorts of ideas, although not with such culinary imagery. It seemed the accepted way to help autistic children was to teach them 'skills' or 'rules' they could remember and then apply to every day situations.

To me, it seemed like a sorta-kinda-paste-on solution. And it wasn't a solution I was prepared to accept for my son.

RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) was not the first program I looked at, but once I read about it, I heaved an enormous sigh of relief.

Here, finally, was a doctor who understood autism at its core and who wasn't happy with the 'teach skills' solutions. He taught autistic children for years using the accepted methods but was not convinced that the outcomes were all they could be. He wanted to go deeper and find a solution that would have a 'normal life' as an outcome.

If it worked, this was the sort of program I wanted Bright Eyes to be part of. And if it didn't work, surely it couldn't be any worse than the therapies that wanted to treat him like an empty eggshell.