Think Autism ~ start small...

When Nick was a little boy, he was highly anxious and very insistent on extremely rigid routines. As mentioned in previous blog posts, he could only cope with going to school, staying at home..... and at a pinch, going to one local coffee shop.  

The following information shared by Elisa from Think Autism spotlights the start of our journey.  By starting small and implementing little variations, we began to help Nick become increasingly flexible with change. 

Nick is now extremely happy to go out into the community, take plane trips and visit new places!


As you may be aware all learning occurs best through experiences and so we need to provide opportunities where we can guide children to develop positive memories of being able to cope with dynamic situations. We need to start small in order to establish competence with this each child will vary in where they are at with this and how they can cope.

4 steps to gradually incorporate more complexity and a slow introduction to dynamic systems:

1 - Start small; within your existing activities even if they are very static add in very very slight differences, only just noticeable.

Working example - back and forth ball play. Say something different each time you pass the ball, make a different sound, a different response, a facial expression or gesture.

2 - Add variations to an activity
Working example - back and forth ball play. Pass the ball differently, roll it, throw it, kick it, underarm, overarm, or throw and clap.

3 - Try the same thing but differently
Working example - back and forth ball play. Add in more complexity like another person playing the same game. Do it in a different room, or outside.

4 - Do something different but in the same way
Working example - back and forth ball play. Apply everything you have done in a ball game but to something else such as pouring a substance (e.g. water, sand, lentils, marbles etc) back and forth into each others cups. Essentially the pattern remains the same so there is some familiarity but its transferred to a new or different activity.

Developing dynamic intelligence and flexibility may not be an easy nor a quick thing to do BUT it is possible and it is easy enough to add in variations to contribute towards learning experiences that impact dynamic intelligence and flexibility.

Elisa Ferriggi is dedicated to empowering parents to feel competent in raising their child with autism to improve quality of life. By addressing the core deficits of autism and unlocking potential children are able to develop milestones required to connect with others and establish true relationships. Elisa Ferriggi has been involved in the autism field since 2003 and is trained in the following approaches Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Holistic Approach to Neuro-Developmental Learning Efficiency (HANDLE) Screener, The Listening Program (TLP) Certified Provider. You can learn more at


  1. It's good to be reminded that baby steps are the way forward (for all of us!) but especially when dealing with anxious kids. Nice tips XXX

  2. Elisa does give great tips and I also appreciate being reminded of how I can help guide Nick. Have a lovely weekend. xx

  3. Really good tips, easy to remember and follow, and still needed here! xx

    1. They are very easy... quite logical really, although sometimes hard to put into practice. xx

  4. Great info. Thank so much. Does Nick's school also follow RDI strategies? Is it an ABA school? I ask because the ABA field is so uneducated in joint attention, theory of mind and RDI type strategies and it is so difficult to get them to add (and implement) some of these objectives to the IEP. Very frustrating for us parents in the U.S. since this is one of the core deficits in autism!

    1. Nick's school is not ABA or RDI, although saying that, they are very mindful of RDI principles, style of language etc. It's a great little school and Nick is so happy there.


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