Changing Destinies: The Re-Start Infant Family Programme for Early Autistic Behaviours

Author(s) : Stella Acquarone, Author(s) : Isabel Jimenez Acquarone

Part of The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy series - more in this series

Changing Destinies: The Re-Start Infant Family Programme for Early Autistic Behaviours

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The term ‘pre-autism’ is becoming more widespread as a result of growing awareness of the importance of a child’s first three years of life in diagnosing behaviours which, if untreated, can develop into autism. In this book we are shown the problems parents can experience when their young child does not respond to them in a ‘typical’ way, how they often voice concerns that something is ‘not quite right’ with their child, and how it is important to address these concerns, which may be signs of pre-autism.

This book is about a new approach called 'Re:Start', developed by Stella Acquarone, to diagnose and treat early autism. In the Re:Start infant/family programme, a multidisciplinary team works with the parents and through the family relationships to reconfigure dysfunctional dynamics with the aim to “change destinies”.

In the first section of the book we learn about the up-to-date research in psychoanalysis, neurobiology, and paediatrics which underpin the Re:Start intensive programme. In the second section, the programme itself is described in three parts: assessment, therapy, and follow-on care continuing the progress made during treatment in the child’s home environment. With this three-pronged approach a child’s early behaviours can be monitored and changed, giving a baby the best chance to develop into a healthy child, and even enter mainstream education. A sample timetable of the three-week intensive intervention is included as well as the scales and graphs used to assess the relationship and monitor progress in four areas: interpersonal, sensorial, motor and affect.In the third section we are presented with the testimonies of parents who have taken part in the programme.

This book is equally important both as a documentation of a successful treatment model for researchers and clinicians, and as an aid for concerned parents to understanding pre-autistic behaviours and taking the necessary steps to help themselves and their children.

Reviews and Endorsements

'After decades developing an innovative parent-infant psychotherapy, Dr Acquarone responds brilliantly to up-to-date evidence from clinical work, developmental psychology, neuroscience and genetics, as well as parents’ intuitions, to reveal how autism disturbs brain development before birth, affecting the baby’s motives, awareness, and feelings in ways that distress the family and handicap development. With case studies of intensive and extended family therapy with infants she illustrates how mothers, fathers and siblings may be guided by a team of different professions to transform the affected child’s openness to life. She calls this Re:Start, freeing the natural creative powers of growth in loving relationships.'
- Colwyn Trevarthen, Professor Emeritus of Child Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Edinburgh

'Professionals from many disciplines increasingly agree that early intervention is crucial for children at risk of autism, and Stella Acquarone has long been at the forefront of this work. Her clinical illustrations demonstrate what can be achieved through a psychoanalytically informed intensive intervention that addresses the needs of all family members, and how parents can be supported in establishing a relationship with a child who is unresponsive for whatever reason. This book will speak to professionals working with children on the autistic spectrum, and also, most importantly, to parents, who are often the first to realise that their child needs help.'
- Maria Rhode, Professor Emeritus of Child Psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic/University of East London, and Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society

About the Author(s)

Stella Acquarone, PhD, is the Director of the Parent-Infant Clinic of the School of Infant Mental Health in London and its branch in the USA. She is a practising adult and child psychotherapist and has worked in the NHS for thirty-one years. She is a member of the British Psychological Society, the Association of Child Psychotherapists, and the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has pioneered studies in early infant clinical research and development, and lectures internationally on all aspects of infant-parent development and psychotherapy. She has written extensively in professional papers, journals and chapters in books, and has taught infant observational studies and new clinical strategies in working with disturbed children.

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