Relationship Development Intervention
What It Is
Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) is a program developed by psychologist Steven Gutstein which he calls "a parent-based intervention program where parents are provided the tools to effectively teach dynamic intelligence skills and motivation to their child." The program puts parents at the center of the team who teach their children on the autism spectrum new skills.
How It Works
Parents receive training so they can teach their children step-by-step objectives as part of their everyday life, without the use of outside therapists. The idea is to set the goals for achieving skills that are realistic, based on a child's current developmental level and functioning. The program's literature emphasizes that this goal-setting makes parents and children successful and happy, rather than frustrated.Elements of the program emphasize experience-sharing and non-verbal communication, both areas in which autistic children are characteristically weak. "Once they have mastered the first few stages of the program, children begin to take on more responsibility for monitoring and regulating their actions in various settings," according to the program's developers at the Connections Center in Houston.
Important to Know
RDI is gaining in popularity among some parents of kids with autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that "some reviewers have praised the face validity of this model which targets the core impairment in social reciprocity," that is the ability of children with autism to share social exchanges and experiences.
But like a number of newer approaches to helping children with autism, the evidence of RDI being a worthwhile approach is anecdotal, not based on published empirical scientific research so far. A paper published in 2007 by Gutstein notes the successes of the children in his own study are based on many factors that make it a selective (not random) sample of kids with autism.
- The Connections Center in Houston, the home of the RDI program developed by psychologist Steven Gutstein