LISA O’DONNELL

RDI® Consultant in Training
Speech and Language Pathologist

I am a parent of a child with Autism and a Speech-Language Pathologist who has experience working with children from 0-18 years of age with a range of disabilities.

I embarked on my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist prior to becoming a parent so when my youngest son was diagnosed with Autism I felt that my professional experience and knowledge would be all that my family needed to support his development and provide him with a great life despite the challenges that he was faced with. It wasn’t long into this journey that I realised that living with a child with Autism is entirely different than working with a child with Autism. I had used all of the compensation and workarounds that I knew, we had made “progress” but in hindsight we hadn’t made progress we were changing the world around him so that he could fit in, with as little disruption as possible. We had begun to isolate ourselves as a family, because we couldn’t control everything when were out so going out became too hard. I believed that when he could talk that things would get better, “He was frustrated”. But this wasn’t the case he did develop language but he didn’t use it the way that I craved him to. I use language to share my experiences with someone and to hear about their experiences, my son wasn’t interested in my experiences and didn’t want to share his. I missed being his mother I felt that I was his therapist but I craved the parenting role that had been stolen from me because of the existence of Autism. I had looked into all types of intervention programs and wasn’t able to find anything to fill the void that was missing. That was until I spoke to a colleague at a professional development conference she talked to me about an Autism Remediation Program from America. Her words resonated with me, “If I had a child with Autism I wouldn’t do anything else”. I had never had another professional put themselves in my shoes before so this evoked enough interest for me. I discovered Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) and this program has changed our family life dramatically I am no longer walking around with the families burdens on my shoulders only, my husband and I are equals in the RDI world because it is simply about re-creating the Guided Participation Relationship (parent-child dynamic). This program has taught us the difference between compensations (workarounds) and development of dynamic thinking to cope in an ever changing world where the rules never stay the same. Since beginning the RDI program I have been amazed at the changes in not only my son but in all of our lives, we all went to the Exhibition! We would never have dreamed of doing that prior to RDI, in fact a few years before I stayed at home with my son while my husband took our other child to the Exhibition so that he didn’t miss out. RDI has had such a grand impact on me that I have stopped treating children with Autism using traditional Speech Pathology methods because I felt that it was unethical to do this when there were treatments that could actually impact a child’s thinking and not just their behaviour. I attended the RDI beginning and intermediate training courses in Houston in November 2010 and am currently completing my RDI Training under the supervision of Dr Rachelle Sheely one of the co-founders of RDI program.   I am attending the advanced training seminar in November 2011 and envisage being fully certified by the beginning of 2012. It is my utmost desire to help families remain together and thrive under the harsh conditions that Autism imposes on them. I believe that RDI is the key to this success and the success for individuals living with Autism at having a chance for a better Quality of Life which is my ultimate goal for my own child.
+61 414 445 510 | lisaodonnell@email.com