1. What is RDI?
Relationship development intervention (RDI) is an intervention therapy that addresses the core deficits of autism - dynamic thinking and social communication. It is developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein, who has been working with individuals with autisum for more than 30 years.
According to Dr. Gutstein most individuals with autism are not able to form long lasting friendships and mature emotional relationships. They lead a life wanting for social and intimate relationships due to their inability to develop the skills required to engage in flexible adaptive thinking which is necessary to deal with the variations in daily life. Even for high functioning ASD adults - adults with normal IQ and language, and lesser degree of sensory issues - the prognosis is not very different.
Dr. Gustein set out to discover how these abilities are developed in neuro-typical individuals. He learned that the brain connections that provide the early foundation for dynamic thinking and social development are formed in infants by age 2. The connections are built through their daily interactions with the parents. These interactions take a form that is equivalent to that of a mentor-apprentice relationship. The parent acts as a guide to the infant's apprentice helping him discover the basic nuances of communication and relationship. This happens naturally and the appropriate connections are formed in the infant's brain. In ASD kids these foundational brain connections are not formed thus creating a barrier in development of adaptive flexible thinking. Dr. Gutstein believes that brain is a pliable organ and parents can - through a systematic and methodical way - form a Guided Participation Relationship (GPR) with their child which will lead to the formation of the brain connections necessary for the development of dynamic thinking and social communication.
The RDI therapy provides the tools and training for parents to be able to form a GPR relationship with their child.
2. How is the RDI program implemented?
The RDI program is a parent-led therapy program. Parents implement the RDI program with the help of RDI consultants. There are 2 phases:
a) Parent objectives
In this phase parents are trained by the RDI consultants to become a guide/mentor to their child. Typical parent objectives are:
b) Child objectives
Once parents have become a proficient guide the RDI consultant will assess the child and create appropriate child objectives. Typical child objectives are:
3. Does it replace other therapies such as ABA?
No. RDI does not replace other therapies rather it is one more tool - the missing one - to remedy autism. ABA and other behavior modification therapies are required to develop static skills. RDI fills the gap of developing the dynamic thinking skills.