One of the most difficult situations for parents is feeling as if they’ve lost a “connection” with their child. Or feeling as though they’ve never had one to begin with. RDI® – Relationship Development Intervention – is a program designed to help parents reestablish that connection.

As a support tool in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental concerns, RDI is a professionally guided, parent-driven program that allows parents to become agents of change in the course of their child’s development.

From the moment of birth, a child looks to his/her parents for cues about how to process and interact with the world. In turn, parents rely on cues from their child about how to parent that child individually. This continuous feedback loop of actions, reactions and non-verbal communication has as much to do with how our children develop as the things we say to them. In fact, experts estimate a full 70% of our communication does not take place through words, and someone with ASD misses most of that.

If the communication process has gone awry, it can have long-term consequences. Not only do day-to-day interactions become more difficult, but each time we unwittingly repeat our ineffective response patterns, we are actually fortifying neuroconnections in the brain that strengthen the unproductive behaviors.

RDI was developed to remediate this very process. Parents are coached and mentored in a back-to-basics strategy where real-life, everyday interactions are used as teaching tools to help them reestablish their role in their child’s life as an effective guide. In other words, the parents are once again able to help their child make sense of the world, rather than simply keeping them safe within it.

RDI is specifically designed to address the core deficits in autism that impact:

  • Relationship Development
  • Social Communications
  • Motivation
  • Abstract Language Comprehension
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Executive Functioning

This approach focuses on developing “dynamic intelligence,” which includes the ability to make decisions, solve problems, think flexibly and adapt to change. These are some of the activities that might be included in your work with an RDI consultant:

  • Developing a set of clear objectives and individualized instruction
  • Learning how to modify communications and discover how to use daily routines to reestablish connections
  • Learning how to observe and analyze obstacles in the communication process
  • Breaking down large or complex “abilities” into manageable units
  • Receiving systematic assignments upon which to build learning

This is a step-by-step program, where parents are taught – through training, feedback and practice – to construct a productive, guiding relationship with their child. Parents are trained to find the opportunities in their day-to-day lives where they can teach their child life and relationship skills. Over time, parents themselves can have an impact on their child’s ability to form reciprocal friendships, collaborate with others, and engage in the kind of adaptive thought and problem-solving abilities they will need as they grow toward adulthood. At its most effective, this training results in a paradigm shift for parents, literally changing the parenting process, so they can provide their child with the skills that will help them truly improve their quality of life.

For More Information
RDI was developed in the 1990s by Dr. Steven Gutstein and Dr. Rachelle Sheely and is based on the belief that individuals with ASD can use existing relationships as a “classroom” to develop the cognitive, emotional, communicative and social tools they need for a better life. For more information on RDI, click HERE.